True Life: I’m Just Here for the Food

Superbowl Sunday- the only Sunday on my calendar where dinner is a bigger deal than brunch. With the big event being 2 days and some change away, I’m sure everyone is finalizing their menus and, while I hate being the one who points out all of those fun facts that everyone detests hearing, I think you’d rather have the Giants win than be a giant yourself… bad joke? Listen, I’m not going to even pretend like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to football- that’s what the Chris Collinsworths, Jim Nantzs, and Shannon Sharpes of the world are for (impressed yet?), but in the end it comes down to the numbers… and I’m not just talking about the scoreboard.

True Life: I’m Just Here for the Food

Superbowl XLVI may be the second time the Patriots meet the Giants where they will pour blood, sweat and tears into becoming the reigning football champions of the 2011 NFL season, but its also the second largest food consumption day in the US, waddling just behind Thanksgiving.

The National Chicken Council (NCC, yes it really exists) is predicting that 1.25 billion wing portions will be consumed on Sunday alone, that translates to 100 million pounds of wings, or 500 million individual wings or 250 million chickens. That bodes in comparison to the 1.4 million individuals who have considered calling in sick monday… what? are you planning on getting a doctors note with an official medical diagnosis of wingoverdositis?

Add to that the 80 million pounds of avocado, 15,000 tons of chips, over 4,000 tons of popcorn and estimated 50 million cases of beer that are poised to be consumed on the holiest of American holiday’s and I think we’re getting close to the 300 million dollars  in revenue that NBC is predicted to make on this day from commercials alone.

No wonder there’s a 20 percent jump in antacid sales this weekend…

So, will you be one of the 171 million viewers, 40 percent of which aren’t actually football fans, who will consume, on average, over 1200 calories just in snacks? Or are you one of the lucky individuals who spend an average of $3,982.00 on one ticket, therefore becoming broke and unable to afford food?

Let’s get real- there’s nothing Patriotic about the Giant amount of food eaten in a 4 hour time frame… that’s something only a Titan can be proud of!

Check out these Crispy Baked Chicken Wings from Bon Appetit!

Posted in Appetizer, Just For Fun!, Meat, News, Poultry, Seasons, Winter | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Meatless Mondays: Sweet Roasted Carrots with Savory Chickpeas

Chickpeas aren’t knew to this blog– in fact you can find them here, here and here; actually their frequency on my plate may be the reason why I haven’t been in the mood for them. But then things happen as they do and chickpeas re-entered my life in the most unexpected of ways…

It was your average Monday afternoon- the stair master was beating me in our usual uphill battle when the trainer of the woman on the stair master to my left, inquired about her diet and exercise regime over the past few days. Mind you, I’m probably red as a tomato, sweating (and not in the “glistening” kind of way), hunched over and breathing as quietly as a saint bernard when I decide that the only way I’m getting through this workout is if I use this conversation as a distraction. As I’m panting up the revolving stairs that lead no where, I begin to eavesdrop in the most unsubtly of ways and I learn a few things about this woman that are completely irrelevant to this post. But then she mentions last nights dinner: “a salad, some steamed vegetables, chickpeas and rice.”  The trainer lady responds with something similar to this: “Just chickpeas? Don’t you think you need more lean protein if we’re working out this hard? Like let’s try adding almonds next time.”

I nearly tripped over my own feet when I heard this. 1. Chickpeas are lean protein trainer lady! Just because its not animal protein doesn’t mean it’s inferior! 2. Almonds? As a protein source? You have got to be kidding me. Almonds are a great source of healthy fat but by no means should she swap almonds for chickpeas. I think the trainer lady caught on to me because a few shocked giggles emitted from my mouth and my facial expression read like an open book of disbelief. Angered as they walked away before I could say much more, I channeled my anger into the workout- I guess the eavesdropping did a better job than expected. Once I was done I circled the gym 3 times before giving up hope on finding the lady to tell her it’s really ok to eat chickpeas but she must have left before me. Since then, I’ve been craving chickpeas. So in honor of the lady on the stair-master on my left, I make these roasted chickpeas and carrots… and as expected- they were filling, healthy, and a great source of protein and fiber!

And a happy happy birthday to my chopping lovin’ cousin Nelly, whom has brought veggie tales into my life forever, this recipe goes out to you!

Sweet Roasted Carrots with Savory Chickpeas [click for pdf]

Serves 6

Ingredients:

- 2 15-oz cans low sodium chickpeas

- 4 large carrots

- 1 tablespoon Canola Oil, divided

- ½ cup warmed vegetable stock [low sodium]

- Salt

- Pepper

- ½ medium onion, diced

- 2 teaspoons turmeric

- large pinch of saffron

- pinch of cayenne

- 2 teaspoons ground cumin

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

- 2 tablespoons tomato paste

- 1-2 teaspoons dark brown [depending on desired sweetness]

 

What you’ll need…

- Oven-proof medium skillet


Recipe Instructions:

- Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

- Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly and drain. Set aside so they can continue to drain and dry.

- Peel the carrots, slice in half length wise and then cut on the diagonal to make 2 inch long pieces.

- Heat the skillet over medium-high heat with 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Add carrots and sauté for about 2 minutes. Then add the stock, a pinch of salt and pepper; reduce the heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.

- Uncover the skillet, raise the heat back to medium-high and allow the stock to evaporate. Once the stock has evaporated, add the rest of the canola oil and allow to warm.

- Sauté the onions until translucent [5 min].

- Add the drained chickpeas, turmeric, saffron, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and tomato paste. Mix to coat evenly.

- Sauté for about 3-5 minutes until the chickpeas begin to sizzle.

- Transfer oven proof skillet directly to the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Mix in 1-2 teaspoons of dark brown sugar and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

- Remove carefully [handle will be extremely hot!] and serve warm!

Nutrition Info: Each serving is 230 calories, 5 g of fat, 12 g of protein, 17 g of carbohydrates and 9 g of fiber.

Posted in Beans, Dairy-Free, Meatless mondays, Seasons, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Winter | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Love at first Bite

French fries… it’s never a debate whether you love them or not, but rather which “fry persona” you particularly relate to the most. Are you a chill waffle fry lover? Perhaps a curly fry freak? Do you like them extra crispy giving you that added crunch or do you long for the comfort of a soft and potato-y fry? Have you explored the indulgent wonders of the truffle fries at Prime One Twelve, partied all the way to CA just for animal style fries at In-n-Out, or are you a plain jane kinda fry kid? Regardless of how delicious any fry variety may be, the name in itself gives way to its true colors… fried. Even if you’re at the most organic, healthful restaurant on the block you can bet those organic yucca fries on the menu are deep fried in some seriously organic oil.

Fries are the kind of food where it’s love at first bite; no matter how young or old you are, after you have your first french fry- whether it be at my arc-ed nemesis McDonalds, a friends birthday party, defrosted in your oven or made from scratch- you’re a goner. We all know that they’re unhealthy, but as of late I cannot stop ordering them wherever I go. Since I wouldn’t dare make them myself I had to come up with something because my fry fondness was starting to get out of hand.

So I made these roasted rosemary root fries; they are a combination of 3 delicious root vegetables- celeriac (celery root), parsley root, and parsnips. Since it’s winter, root vegetables are overflowing in the grocery stores, making this a widely available option. These root vegetables are particularly high in vitamins A, E, C, calcium, iron, potassium and fiber; they have also been used to ease digestion and detoxify your body. Parsley root (which looks similar to parsnips) actually has an essential oil, apiole, which may be associated with uterine contractions so if you are pregnant it is best to stick to other root vegetables. Another note about parsley root, which is easily the rarest of the bunch to come across, while it may have the most potato-like taste, it does have the highest water content so it wont get extra crispy in the oven. (For all of those lucky ones who have gardens over flowing with parsley, this is the perfect recipe for you because you don’t have to toss the roots, just dig them up and start peeling!)

I’m sure you’re thinking, but do they really taste like fries? The findings of a somewhat-blind unintentional experiment indicates yes! I made these yesterday afternoon and later that night while we were finishing up dinner,  I began telling Rach about the root fries and how I really do think they taste like french fried potatoes. All the while, Sarah had been in her room getting ready for dinner. She comes out, and immediately starts in on the fries. “Amy, why did you make french fries? We are trying to be healthy!!”  Scientific proof, right?  
Roasted Rosemary Root “Fries”

Serves 4

Ingredients:

5 large roots (about 2.5 lbs total)—I used celery root (celeriac), parsnips and parsley root

1-1 ½ tablespoons canola oil

Coarse Sea Salt (fleur de sel)

Freshly ground pepper

Scant 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Celery or Truffle Salt (optional)

What you’ll need… a peeler, a large bowl and 2 baking sheet

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

Peel roots and cut them into French-fry sized sticks (note* the thinner you make them the crispier they will be). Place them in a bowl and toss with canola oil.

Lay them out evenly on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet (use two if need be so you don’t over crowd), and sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary.

Roast for 20 minutes, toss and place back in the oven for 10 minutes until golden on the edges and crispy on the ends! Sprinkle with a little celery salt or truffle salt at the end to really put it over the edge.

Serve immediately with this Rustic Homemade Tomato Ketchup.

Nutrition info: Each serving of the fries will vary depending on the roots you used. On average, a serving should be about 75 calories, 14 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of protein, and 2 g of fat.

Posted in Good Eats, How To, Just For Fun!, Meatless mondays, Nutrients, Seasons, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What Chef’s Feed Their Kids

Thanks to my Aunt K, this past November I was wandering around what seemed like a big kids food version of the all-stars science fair, more commonly known as the NYTimes: Taste of T event. My primary goal was to get in contact with these prominent chefs for my latest entrepreneurial endeavor, I’m In The Kitchen[dot]com (coming soon!), but mainly found myself gorging on the creative tasters of said culinary geniuses. The event happened to take place in the beautiful Architects & Designers building and as you “sampled haute cuisine” you were “invited to explore the ultra-luxe showrooms boasting innovative product and design ideas in kitchen, bath, appliances and home furnishings” (their words, not mine). My mind began to wander, as it tends to do, and I began thinking about the ridiculously awesome kitchen I would one day design for my very own home when I was forced out of my day dream because I had actually bumped into Fanae Aaron’s booth. My embarrassed grin was met by her welcoming smile and my eyes quickly diverted to her intriguing cookbook title propped up on the table and the nutrition side of my brain took over and I thought, wait, what DO chefs feed their kids?. As I bit into my second of the much welcomed healthy lite bites of her red bean and walnut spread atop a crostini, we had already covered my background as well as her own and swapped information. A few email exchanges later, we had set up a time for us to have a more formal conversation about her book, her love of food and her son, and what brought her to this point in her life. The conversation continues here.

Fanae Aaron, author of What Chef’s Feed Their Kids, was never a picky eater as a child or a culinary school graduate, but as a lifelong food enthusiast when it came time to feeding her son Cody, she saw things a little differently. After popping open her first jar of baby food, she took a quick taste and simply tossed it; it just didn’t feel right nourishing her growing son with something so unappetizing. So she went straight for the pros and asked some of the best chefs in America what they feed their little ones.

In today’s world, healthy eating is unfortunately associated with restrictions but for children they want to eat what the other kids are eating too. How do you address that with your son and do you ever let him indulge, especially when it comes to birthdays and special occasions?

We eat healthy all the time and restricting some foods is inevitable, we really restrict sugar. When we are out and about and his friends are eating lollipop after sweet thing after sweet thing I turn to him and say “you know we dont eat that stuff [because] it’s going to make you sick.” I try not to be un-fun about it but since we’re restricted in that front we are so broad on other fronts. He loves tacos so we make breakfast tacos all the time. Actually, for infants sugar is an analgesic but when does that end? If we teach our children to be soothed with sugar, when they are 25 years old they will still reach for that slice of blueberry pie or pint of ice cream when they are feeling down, and that turns into a downward spiral. But you can’t say no all the time, you have to be on the same food team so just find what works best for you.

In society it’s customary to eat something sweet for birthdays and special occasions and we are lucky enough to live in California where there are some restaurants that make healthy versions of his favorite sweets. We love Cafe Gratitude because they make a healthier milkshake that has a low glycemic index, uses agave instead of sugar and has no dairy in it. I admit I give him cookies but I just try to make more wholesome versions of them. I make him feel “food special” and he knows that I’m working hard cooking for him. I think that’s the most important thing to do with your child- sharing the cooking and shopping experience. For dessert I’ll bring the mango to the table and cut it in front of him. Food creates relationships and harbors rituals, we go to the farmers markets and speciality food shops together that way we are spending quality time together and sharing something that is just ours.

You mentioned involving your children in the cooking and shopping process, have your culinary skills rubbed off on Cody? And I know growing up my mother would always ask us what we wanted for dinner and we would always say “whatever’s fine”, and now that aggravates me to no degree when I cook for my family and friends. Is Cody articulate about what he wants to eat that night?

He loves hanging out with me in the kitchen, he especially loves to help when we make pumpkin and zucchini bread– cracking the eggs, pouring the flour and using the hand held mixer. But between those things there are a million steps I need to do that he either doesn’t want to do or is too young to do so I always have a side project for him- the salad spinner or playing with a bowl of flour. He can go back to being involved when he wants and jumps in and out in accordance with his attention span.

Cody is an extremely articulate 5 year old, but at that age they are so in the present and do not carry a catalogue of they they want so it’s important to give them a list of things and then he tells me which one he likes. I’m trying to build a culinary vocabulary with him so when I first put something down in front of him I ask him “is it lemon-y enough? or is it cheesy enough?” Every child needs that transition and it’s a way for him to taste it and give me feedback on what he likes.

What seemed to be the biggest hurdle when you were writing this book and was there any hesitation with your son trying all of these different foods? I can’t imagine a kid asking for such healthy options like steamed black cod opposed to chicken fingers! What are your secrets!

I only have rudimentary cooking skills and I was really learning the foundations of cooking while I was teaching him to eat. As his eating skills progressed, my cooking skills did too. I made sure to reach out to different kinds of chefs with a range of cuisines and talents; chefs recipes aren’t something an average cook can understand so I did a lot of research and a lot of trials. It stretched my cooking skills and I really had to be able to trust the recipes as everyone who follows a recipe in What Chefs Feed Their Kids should feel comfortable with doing as well.

It’s hard to get your child to eat healthy and crave healthy options, that’s the entire drive behind this book. It’s about how we can educate kids and eventually enable them, when they are old enough, to make better choices for nourishing themselves. But it isn’t a secret that it’s difficult. I always used superhero’s as an example, they create a positive food association with healthful foods like spinach and it tended to go over a lot better. Creating confident, happy and healthy relationship with food is my goal and once you do that it’s contagious. You build pride in your kid.

So, what’s for dinner tonight?

I really love the shaking beef recipe, it’s delicious and fast! If I know that I’m not going to have a lot of time at the end of the day, I marinate it in the morning and stir fry it when I get home!

The recipes in here are so delicious that they aren’t just for kids- I love the chickpea panisse! Check out her site and blog, and buy the book here!!

Posted in Just For Fun!, News, NYTimes, Tips | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Age of Aquarius

Twenty Twelve will undoubtably be chatty- between the election, the summer olympics in london, the mayan predicted apocalypse, and, of course, lady gaga’s never-before-so-flawlessly executed fashion choices, if you ever find yourself at a loss for words, hear crickets or in an awkward silence, one simple question can turn  even the quietest person into a chatty cathy…. “man, doesn’t Jennifer Hudson look amazing?” In a country where an opinion is as common as a Chanel 2.55 bag on the Upper East Side, there will always be someone who will have something to say and every once in a while, you may actually want to actually listen. Take this photograph for example, it’s nothing short of inspirational and even on the most motivated of days it adds more purpose to your life.

This year breeds unparalleled personal and professional excitement, and of course, lots and lots of cooking, which made the anticipation of 2012 almost unbearable. But, I did manage to find one thing in 2011 that calmed my nerves…  fried chocolate pumpkin pie. Thankfully, the year is finally here.  

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A Winter Salad

The temperature is dropping and slowly we see the sleeping-bag jackets come out of the woodworks and grace the streets of New York City. This is the time of year when we gradually begin to swap the starter salads for the starter soup not only for its delicious flavors but also for the warmth that travels through your body when your hands cup the heated bowl, relaxing your shoulders and emitting a sigh of relief from your mouth.

However, the winter harvest season breeds such beautiful and nutritious fruits and vegetables that marry so beautifully that a salad is the best way to showcase their flavors and colors. The foundation of this salad was influenced by Sarah Britton of My New Roots blog. The dark contrast of the poppy seeds against the gleaming orange of the butternut squash almost makes you not want to eat the salad, but then you pop one poppy seed-crusted roasted butternut squash in your mouth, warm out of the oven and it’s game.over.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s hard not to find nutritional aspects of this salad. (1) The beta-carotene in butternut squash, a powerful antioxidant that is converted into Vitamin A in your body to promote healthy eyesight (2) the amount of carotenoids found in kale (it has the richest source of all leafy-green vegetables) acts as a cancer fighter, helps regulate estrogen, protects against heart disease and may help regulate blood pressure, not to mention the ridiculous amounts of calcium in this dark leafy green, which fights against osteoporosis and (3) if riches were determined by antioxidant content instead of money, pomegranates would the billionaires of the world and not to mention, their iron, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium and fiber content is astounding.

This dish really combines fall and winter power-players in the nutrition field, and are excellent for preparing the body heading into what will hopefully be a mild winter. Yet another good reason to eat seasonally.

Poppy seed-crusted Butternut Squash Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash      4 cloves of garlic, minced       1 tablespoon canola oil                3 tabelspoons poppy seeds      a few sprinkles of sea salt

3 cups packed shredded/roughly chopped dinosaur kale        Juice of ½ lemon    pinch of sea salt          ½ pear, cored, halved and thinly sliced        1 pomegranate, de-seeded

[sweet white wine vinaigrette]            1 teaspoon white wine vinegar          ½ teaspoon agave            1 teaspoon Dijon mustard                sea salt pepper            1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

What you’ll need… baking sheet, a wooden spoon and a bowl of water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

Peel squash and cut in half (lengthwise), scoop out the seeds and cut into cubes. Toss with oil, minced garlic, poppy seeds and sea salt until evenly coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until fork tender (but not mushy), about 35 minutes (30-40 minutes).

While the squash is roasting, shred the kale by slicing it into very thin strips (you can also use the regular curly kale instead of dino kale), add the juice half of lemon and some salt and massage into the kale allowing it to wilt. Set aside while you make the dressing.

[sweet white wine vinaigrette]: mix all ingredients together except the olive oil. Then while whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle the olive oil in to emulsify. Pour over wilted kale and toss to coat.

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate by first quartering it and then hitting the skin with the back of a wooden spoon over a bowl of water, allowing the seeds to drop into the water. You will notice that the white pith will float to the top and the good seeds will sink to the bottom. Pick out all of the white pith before draining and drying the pomegranate seeds.

Once the butternut squash is finished, cool for 5-10 minutes before adding it to the kale. Toss with the pear and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with lemon zest if desired. Feast!

Nutrition Information: Each serving is 175 calories, 8 g of fat, 4 g of protein, 28 g of carbohydrates and 7 g of fiber. 

Posted in Appetizer, Dairy-Free, Fall, Gluten Free, Salad, Seasons, Vegetarian, Winter | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Beat the Winter Breakfast Blues

the best things come in threes

The winter breakfast blues have officially set in, the reliable yogurt and fiber one has been temporarily placed on the back-burner and oatmeal, adassi, and eggs have frequented my breakfast plate more often. But who has time to make delicious over-easy eggs every day or sit behind a pot for 45 minutes while steel-cut oatmeal simmers to deliciousness, when the darkened mornings perpetuate at least 3 extra hits to the much beloved snooze button? Especially in the winter, breakfast is absolutely vital. Think of your body as a car (a fancy sports car if you will…), it can’t run without fuel, and you sure aren’t going to put in leaded fuel that will just clog up the engine, would you?  Studies have shown that breakfast is both a physiological and psychological need and kids and adults who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese, concentrate better and out perform those who do not eat breakfast at work/school. So even if you think you can’t stomach food that early in the morning, do it for your body and that extra edge over your peers or coworkers (hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition).

Try some of these quick and healthy, nutrition approved breakfast options when you’re running out the door:

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten Free, Good Eats, How To, Seasons, Winter | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The New New York

A few weeks ago, I came across this sticker aptly placed dead center on a graffiti clad door in the heart of soho; this unassuming tatted-up door undoubtedly acts at the gatekeeper to some brilliant artist or visionary passionately working away in his loft hoping to leave his mark in this world similarly to how this silly sticker stuck with me as I continued my walk to TriBeCa. This mysterious Manhattan man may embody “The Old New York” but as I eat my way through this city the semblance of this phrase seems to have disappeared. Instead of just repaving the roads of New York, the culinary heroes of this city have rebuilt it from the ground up.

Let’s take for example, David “Fire Breather” Chang, the man single handedly responsible for creating a positive association with Korean food. Before Chang brought us the greatness of MomoFuku(Ko, Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Milk Bar), Korea town was a 4 block x 2 avenue area that you only ventured to on your most courageous-est of days. Now, you regularly stop by No. 7 sub for a sandwich, need Chang’s mouth watering crack pie-on-a-stick weekly, dip into Woo Lae Oak’s Korean BBQ for a great meal with a large group, and oddly crave spicy rice cakes- no I’m not talking about the Quaker kind, I’m talking about these delicious guys…

Momofuku Spicy Rice Cakes

So these spicy rice cake cravings starting coming on strong, and a friend’s (who happens to love Asian food) birthday was approaching which gave me the perfect excuse to attempt Chang’s kimchi and mix it up with chewy rice cakes and crispy brussel sprouts. I don’t know if David Chang is secretly the superhero FireBreather who is half dragon half hero but the kimchi came out so spicy that I had to dilute it with other sauces. However, round two (version below) came out just right! I also made my version of Peking duck that takes closer to 2 hours versus 2 days, that recipe will be up shortly. All in all the dinner was still successful and I am thankful to my friends who stomached the spicy kimchi, although their beads of sweat kind of made their “no it’s really good I promise” compliments hard to believe. We make Peking duck sliders topped with some aioli and kimchi, which masked the spiciness of the kimchi.

Chang’s Kimchi- modified for the vegetarian

Makes 1-1 ½ quarts

Ingredients

1 medium head Napa cabbage, discolored or loose outer leaves discarded

2 tablespoons kosher (or coarse sea) salt

1 ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

20 garlic cloves, minced

20 slices peeled fresh ginger, minced

1/3 cup kochukaru (Korean chile powder)*

¼ cup fish sauce

¼ cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)

2 teaspoons jarred salted shrimp (I substituted with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt mixed with lemon juice)

1 ½ cup 1-inch pieces scallions (both greens and whites)

½ cup julienned carrots

What you’ll need… time!!

Preparation

Cut the cabbage lengthwise in half, then cut the halves crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces. Toss the cabbage with the salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator (uncovered).

The next morning, combine the garlic, ginger, kochukaru, fish sauce, usukuchi, shrimp (or salted lemon juice), and remaining ½ cup sugar in a large bowl. If it is very thick, add water 1/3 cup at a time until the brine is just thicker than a creamy salad dressing but no longer a sludge. Stir in the scallions and carrots.

Drain the cabbage and add it to the brine. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.

Note: Kimchi is at its best when the fermentation process occurs naturally allow the flavors to homogenize. So, while it may be good after 24 hours, it’s actually in its prime in 2 weeks. After that you have another week or two that it’ll still be edible but eventually it will be funky tasting.

*So the original recipe calls for ½ cup of kochukaru- I did this and can tell you the kimchi was almost inedible it was SO SPICY! So unless you want to cry or sweat all throughout dinner or breath fire for 2 days after, I highly recommend bringing it down to 1/3 cup. Korean Chile Powder is way spicier than your supermarkets chile powder, so keep that in mind- regardless I would bring it down to 1/3 cup.

Posted in Dairy-Free, How To, Just For Fun!, Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Same Same… but Different

Where to begin? I guess the best place to start is at the beginning. Thanksgiving week (yes, week) hit an all-time high this year. While we held true to our southern roots and traditions- deep fried turkey, cooked salami, candied yams with toasted marshmallows, too good too be true stuffing, brussle sprouts and more dessert options than guests (ok, that’s definitely an exaggeration since there were 60 people at thanksgiving this year… but we had at least 10 different desserts)- we also welcomed a few new traditions that, now, I cannot imagine thanksgiving without. You know, same same… but different.

baked brie

ringo!

After our usual thanksgiving morning 5-mile charity run, The Boulevard Bolt (yes my dad ran it in 40 minutes!!), a newcomer to the infamous brunch buffet was delicious organic, homemade salmon jerky, flown in all the way from Seattle, Washington. The usual insanity followed with deep-frying the turkeys in hilarious turkey hats, the ceremonious carving of said turkeys, toasting of the marshmallows and hovering around the cooked salami. And just when we were about to dig into the main fare, believe it or not, we actually did something patriotic. We sang, not on tune or in the correct pitch, America The Beautiful. Now, I’d like all of you to take a second and picture what it would sound like for 60 tone-deaf individuals, some Persian, some southern, trying to sing on key for a good 2 minutes. (ah!) Let’s just say that video will never be released. Then, after working up an appetite, we ate. Then ate some more. Then went in for dessert. Among the pumpkin and pecan pies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and banana pudding with flambéed meringue, sat the all-star dessert of the weekend… Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cake. Now, I cannot take credit for this mouth-watering dessert, it comes from a great friend’s family recipe, the original version I would not dare divulge. But in the spirit of giving and thanking, it was thanksgiving after all, I would first like to personally thank Yael for handing over the original version, and I would like to give my “healthified” version to all of y’all (it’s below). There is really, honestly and truly, nothing better than this cake. (Funnily enough, it’s the only dessert I don’t have a picture of… most likely due to the fact that it was eaten in .10 seconds)

only half of the food

But moving on… the rest of the weekend was spent eating one too many grilled cheeses at The Grilled Cheeserie truck, playing football in gorgeous 70 degree weather (ok ok ok, I didn’t actually play but I watched), filming a school project for my cousin (shout out to recyclin’ Ronnie!), watching the Titans beat the Buccaneers, Ringo showing off his tricks, and doing a lot of nothing with the people I am thankful to have in my life.

us playing football- we look a little scattered

professionals playing football... a little less scattered

So, this is when you decide to run out and buy everything you don’t have on the ingredient list and make this cake. Then you can thank me after, or even better, send me a piece in the mail! Definitely going to make oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chunk cookies next. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!! (Also, didn’t have room for a good camera in my bag this year so the trusty iPhone camera had to make due… sorry for the blurry pics!)

Yael’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake Reconstructed

Makes 1 large bundt cake or 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup margarine or canola oil

1 cup unsweetened agave

¾ cup sugar (or stevia)

4 eggs

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 cups pumpkin (One can of Libby’s organic 15 oz)

1 cup chocolate chunks (not to be mistaken for chips)

What you’ll need.. two mixing bowls, hand held electric mixer and either a bundt pan or cupcake pan.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Start by creaming margarine, agave and sugar together on medium power with a hand held mixer in a large bowl. Then beat in eggs one at a time.

In a second bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt).

Slowly add dry into wet, and alternate dry ingredients and pumpkin into the wet ingredients.

Lastly, fold in the chunks.

Spray pan or cupcake holders with pam/olive oil or other nonstick spray. If baking in bundt pan, make for 55 minutes – 1 hour. If baking cupcakes, check after 15-20 minutes (generally takes 25 minutes).

I usually add a little pumpkin pie spice to parve vanilla icing and frost the cupcakes with a pumpkin spiced frosting!

happy birthday!!

how cute were we? the biggest bows possible, check!

Posted in Dairy-Free, Desserts, Fall, Just For Fun!, Seasons, Whole Wheat | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

And the winner is…

Before I announce the winners, I want to thank everyone who entered into the Blissful Bites: Cookbook Giveaway! It was exciting and surprisingly thrilling receiving so many vegetarian and vegan recipe entries every morning. The best part was being introduced to some delicious new recipes that have now infiltrated my meals. Also, quick shout-out to all of my taste-testers (you know who you are) for providing an unbiased opinion and who helped me consume all of these delicious meals in such a short period of time.

But enough about that… it’s time to announce the winners. While it was more difficult than you can imagine distinguishing first and second place, I actually had even more trouble narrowing it down to just two winners. I found that there were 3 recipes that really stood out. So without further ado, tied for second place are Toby Meyer with her delicious Curried Tofu Scramble and Jennifer Goldstein with her flavorful Roasted Kabocha Squash and Kale. And for the first place winner, who will receive not only a cookbook but also a pantry makeover and her recipe featured on The Crunchy Carrot (drum roll please…) Lauren Moskovitz’s Polenta Pizza with Spinach!

What really propelled this recipe to first place was it’s creativity, adaptability and healthy twist on a classic. I have always loved polenta, a less carby, sugary, fatty, and more fiberous carbohydrate has become the perfect substitute to all white-flour pizza. Guess what- it’s gluten free too! And it is quicker and easier to make than homemade pizza dough. If you are really in a bind for time, you can use quick cooking polenta or premade polenta in place of the cornmeal. Congratulations Lauren!

Polenta Pizza with Sauted Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

Scant ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup skim milk (or soy/almond/hemp or even just water if you are vegan)

2 ½ cups water

Salt

1 cup coarse cornmeal

Freshly ground pepper

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried

½ cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or any vegan cheese)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 450 F degrees; brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk (or water) with water and a large pinch of salt. Bring just about to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisky all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisky frequently, until thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want the consistency of thick oatmeal.

Stir in a tablespoon of oil into the cooked cornmeal (now polenta). Spoon it onto a parchment lined pan, working quickly so polenta does not stiffen; spread it evenly to a thickness of about ½ inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, an hour or more (overnight is fine too).

Put the cooled polenta in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp up on the edges. Meanwhile, put a tablespoon or two into a large skillet over medium head. Add onion, stirring occasionally until it is almost translucent and then add the garlic until both are soft, a total of 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to take onion and garlic out of the pan; set aside.

Add spinach to the skillet and sauté until it releases its water and the pan becomes dry. Sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Drain the spinach with paper towels.

Take polenta out of the oven and spinkle with gorgonzola, onion-garlic mixture and then spinach. Add more gorgonzola on top and drizzle a little olive oil. Put the pizza back in the oven for two minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and the veggies are warmed through. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.

Variations are endless!

Posted in Appetizer, Dairy, Dairy-Free, Fall, Gluten Free, Good Eats, Seasons, Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment