balancing indulgence with where your food comes from

the best part of waking up…

…is breakfast!

I’m a morning person. No matter if my alarm is set or not, I’m up around 8:30 am. Any later and I’m sick or not feeling well.

However because of this, I’m also a person who loves morning workouts. Tuesdays at 8:30 am is my earliest class, but since most of the people (who are now my friends) at the studio know I’m a baker, I thought I’d serve them breakfast yesterday too.

Please say hello to individually-packed pear crumble coffee cake. It’s slightly sweet, nutty, chewy and soft. With no refined sugar, full of whole grain fiber and healthy fats, it was a perfect post-workout snack for all of us!

Or if you’re like me, you eat it before. Thus the empty container.

Delicious!

sparkle

When there’s a decision that’s hard to make…

When you feel stuck in your current place in life…

When you keep fighting everyday for something you believe in…

When you still miss one you lost…

or when frankly, you write a blog that 80% food related and your stomach doesn’t like that at the moment…

…some everyday sparkle never hurt anyone!

What’s the sparkle in your life today?

crispy, creamy potato fennel bake

I saw this recipe on Food52 last week and while it looked wonderful, the weather decided to be beautiful and in the 80′s last weekend. Not exactly the weather that screams, make a hot potato dish!

However, the past fewdays have been cloudy, a little rainy and cooler. I love summer, but I love fall more. The in-between with vegetables (think gorgeous tomatoes and the last lettuces with the start of winter squashes) and the cooler weather that makes days comfortable and evenings cozy.

I have class every Wednesday evening from 6-10 pm and for a few more weeks, I have to pick up my CSA box right before so there’s no time to make or eat dinner. To remedy this, I’ve been having breakfast, 2 lunches (one around noon and one around 4) and 2 snacks (one at 7 or 8ish when we get a break and one after I get out) to keep me powered through. This was my 4 pm lunch and boy did it cover me in a warm blanket and give me the energy to cook for the next 4 hours.

Crispy from broiling, creamy from the milk, salty from the olives. It’s perfect.

And if you’re not eating two lunches or two dinners in one day, it’d would be lovely with a side green salad or sauteed greens like broccoli rabe or kale to make a rounded meal. Also, feel free to switch out or add some other root vegetables to the creamy mixture like beets or carrots.

Potato Fennel Bake (serves 2)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1-2 potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks, or 20 fingerlings, cut in half

1 bulb of fennel sliced

2-3 cups of milk (I used homemade cashew milk because that’s what I had, but whole milk or any other nut milk would work too)

2 small leeks, sliced into rounds

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

zest of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

6 olives

Directions

1. Grease 2 small (6 oz) oven safe dishes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil each.

2. Put the potato chunks, fennel and leeks into a medium pot. Cover with milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15- 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

3. With a slotted spoon, take the potato fennel mixture out of the pot and split between the two dishes.

4. Preheat the broiler.

5. Chop the rosemary and thyme together. Add the salt and pepper and sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables. Drizzle the dishes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

6. Place the dishes under the broiler just until the potatoes and top get crispy and browned.

7. While that’s broiling chop your olives and add the zest to it. Top each dish with half of the olive mixture and serve warm.

I broiled some cherry tomatoes while the dishes were in the oven and put those on top.

Just for you to know, it was a good idea.

lucky

Sometimes when you just take a crack at it…

…you get lucky.

how to: roast garlic

Roasted garlic is something that while very easy to make, makes the whole house (or tiny NYC apartment) smell amazing and adds a restaurant-like quality to dishes. Put it in you favorite tomato sauce, mix it with butter and slather on bread for homemade garlic toast, add it to eggs, put it under the skin of a chicken before roasting… whatever you can do with garlic in a recipe, this will give you the same flavor with a little added sweetness?

Why? Because when you’re roasting it, the sugars from the garlic caramelize creating that darker color and a sweeter flavor. Yum!

Ever since Megan moved to my hometown, we’ve become fast friends and I see her every time I’m back. The last time I was home we wanted to get together one night for dinner and to hang out, but the temperature had dropped, it was rainy outside… see where this is going?

We didn’t want to go out.

I was just craving vegetables of some sort and so was she so it ended up being a movie night (we watched Something Borrowed for the first time. Cute but very predictable and a very superficial take on the book) with mixed vegetable bowls. I roasted butternut squash for the first time this season. I roasted beets since Megan had never had them before along with their tops lightly sauteed. I made a raw corn salad with herbs. There was green salad, tomatoes and roasted garlic. The garlic didn’t really have a purpose per se but smashed up in some dressing on top of  everything else was comfort.

After dinner, Megan asked if I’d write about it because she’d never done it before so this “how to” is for you my dear!

How to: Roast Garlic

1-3 bulbs of garlic (I usually do more than one at a time because it does last in the refrigerator)

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Cut the bulbs in half width-wise so you’re cutting the cloves in half.

3. On a piece of aluminum foil, place the halved bulbs and drizzle them with a little olive oil on the cut side and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place the halves together a little bit before closing the aliunium foil like a package. I just take up all the ends and smooxh them together on top.

5. Roast in the oven on the middle or top rack for about an hour. It will smell amazing and when you open the foil, you’ll see the soft cloves in their darker color.

6. Let cool before squeezing out the cloves and using it in whatever dish you’d like.

always look forward. never look down.

corny inspiration

cornbread with Andrew’s Local Honey and fresh corn from the Dressing Room in Westport, CT

This cornboread was by far the best I’ve ever had. See that cut down the middle? That was so I didn’t eat it all. Leftover cornbread with nut butter and fruit the next morning will be worth not finishing it.

Subtly sweet, incredibly moist with a present corn flavor… now if only I could get the recipe.

What’s one recipe you want to make or recreate this weekend?

now if only I could get the recipe.

warming butternut squash carrot soup

While I knew we’d be able to taste and try things at culinary school, I never imagined I’d have leftovers. Primarily in the formed of cut organic vegetables, but when knife skills are on the agenda and after the exercise everyone has a pile of vegetables, we get to bag them! Yay! Pre-cut, free (if you don’t think about the tuition paid) vegetables.

Since my two tablemates weren’t going home right away last Saturday, I got theirs too so I had 1.5 butternut squashes cubed, 3 peppers diced, 4 carrots diced and a bunch of collard greens both diced and chiffonaded. I would have had an onion diced as well, but brilliant one over here cut herself while dicing and school rules say that after a cut the surface must be sanitized and the food must be thrown out. I knew there was a reason I was in the pastry program years ago. I hate knife skills.

Moving on…

With all of those vegetables, the first thing that make to mind was soup. A butternut squash soup with carrots, red pepper and onion as it’s base started to simmer away and within an hour, I had a soup that was sending summer away and bringing in fall. The peppers and smoked paprika give it a little heat without being spicy and complements the sweet root vegetables.

Bye bye Indian summer!

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

1 onion, diced

1 pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 quart low sodium vegetable stock

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes or until they’re soften and the onions get translucent.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.

3. Lower to a simmer and cook until the squash and carrots are softened, or when easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before transferring the mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth. Likewise, use an immersion blender to blend the mixture in the pot.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Serve either warm or cold, garnishing with extra cooked onion, pepper or carrot.

honey date cake

Although I’m not Jewish, last Wednesday night, I wanted something a little sweet, cakey yet hearty. I know it’s a weird combination of desires, but after finding this recipe for a rustic French honey cake, I changed it based on what I had on hand for a nutritious evening snack, which ended up vegan too.

It’s a cake that gives, but is still soft. It’s sweet from the honey, but barely so this would be a lovely batter to make as muffins with some melted butter or coconut oil for breakfast… now there’s an idea! The dates kind of melt like little pillows of surprise creaminess that make this cake addicting. A little extra drizzle of honey or maple syrup isn’t too bad either.

I cut it into 16 squares so it’d be a great 2-bite snack.

That is until you eat 3 squares at a time.

I told you it was addicting. Whoops.

Honey Date Cake (makes 9-16 squares)

dry ingredients

2 cups spelt flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon all spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

9 dates, pitted and chopped

wet ingredients

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (mixed with 6 tablespoons of water)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment and set aside.

2. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps and evenly distribute the spices.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to combine.

4. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for about 25 minutes. A knife should come out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.

5. Cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

Chix6

Have you ever had a significant other/family member/friend make you feel like you’re competing for their time? Have they made you feel like you need to lose weight/gain weight/ look different? Have you felt not good enough? Have you given up your dreams for someone else’s?

Unfortunately, the reality is many of us have felt those feelings. Katie is also feeling these emotions from her rockstar boyfriend.  For every emotion, she draws a superhero for part of her comic strip who would ultimately win the situation she’s facing. But when after a break-up and a reconcilation, Katie stops drawing to focus on her boyfriend. The “chix” she’s drawn don’t want to disappear so they team together to not only get Katie to keep their comic strip, but to find a piece of each of them in her to shine.

The show is uplifting, fun and leaves the audience singing along with the songs with a big smile on their face. While it sounds cliche, being a part of this musical, this story, this movement has changed my life in a very short time. I’m beyond excited to be a part of such a wonderful thing that will hopefully be making it’s successful Broadway debut next season. Through some serendipitous events, connecting with people and the right timing, I’ve been able to use my background in body image and love for children to fundraise for a great cause.

But now you may be asking why I’m fundraising for a musical? Because the show’s message is to empower Katie (and the audience) to live her best life and not give up on her dreams, not everyone has that support or a way to express themselves so we’re creating The Lightning Girl Fun-dation. Through this program, we will go into local schools with a variety of arts classes from dancing, drawing, singing and writing to their creativity and love themselves in the process.

While Chix6 is in it’s developmental run at The Queen’s Theatre this month, we are teaming up with ASTEP as our fiscal sponsor to help us set up the program before getting our non-profit status, but still need outside support. If you love the arts, children or just want to help empower the younger generation, please check out our First Giving page made by yours truly. It will explain the program in more detail and if you feel like donating, great and if you don’t, fine, but please spread the message and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about it.

If you’re in the NYC area, tickets can be found here if you’d like to see it’s developmental run. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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