balancing indulgence with where your food comes from

homemade applesauce

As the temperatures get cooler (isn’t today gorgeous?), apples are becoming more prolific at the farmer’s market which means that applesauce, apple pie, apple cake and baked apples are tossing to and fro in my head.

The first has been a staple in my family for a few years now when we found a recipe so easy, you had no excuse not to do it. Now some of my friends might be rolling their eyes right now because I tell them that a lot is easy and they don’t agree, but peeling the apples is the hardest part of the whole recipe. With only apples, apple cider, citrus zest and spices, this is a great snack, addition to breakfast, topping to pancakes, you name it!

This is my “hello” to fall and when I got 5# of apples and 3# of crabapples in my CSA box last week, I knew exactly what I was making.

Applesauce (makes 2 quarts)

3# of apples, assorted varieties of sweet and tart (about 15 medium or 10 medium and 10 crabapples)

1 cup apple cider

zest of one lemon and 1 orange

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. Peel, core and cut the apples into fourths. I promise this is the hardest step.

3. Put the apples, cider, zest and spices into a large dutch oven and toss everything together.

4. Put the dutch oven into the oven for 60 minutes. When you take the sauce out, let cool for 5 minutes before you mash it with a potato masher or whisk. My mom has a masher, but I don’t so I just take a whisk and use circular motions to break up the apples. They’re soft enough to do so and I like a chunkier consistency. If you like it smoother, use a food mill.

(sorry it’s not very photogenic!)

Serve as is or cool it completely before any application you wish. I had never had applesauce warm until I made this and while different, delicious and unique. Try it!

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remember

“life is right now”

…said by my dad the other night when I was getting nervous about the future.

Then I look at a view like that and I remember why I’m here, why I love NYC and that for now, I just need to soak in everything I can while I’m here.

It’ll all work out. It’ll all be ok.

tradition

Every time my family drives up to Cape Cod, we stop at Friendly’s in Mystic, CT. Right off 95, it’s a time to stretch our legs during the 8-hour ride and it’s our marker saying, “you only have 2 more hours.

But there’s a sweeter reason why my mom and I love this stop so. Black raspberry ice cream with hot fudge sauce!

One of my all time favorite flavors and one of my many favorite things about Cape Cod since there’s only one company where I can get pints regularly here in NYC (Adirondack Creamery) and at home, you can’t get it at all!

I know, I know, New Englanders don’t realize what they have.

So come Connecticut, I have it every chance I can while I’m up there savoring each and every bite.

 

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you have any food traditions while on vacation?

what happened to your blog?

You know when people ask you that, you’ve been away for a while. Actually it’s been exactly 23 days. Three weeks, 2 days.

While many start by saying they’re sorry, or more recently telling you that they’re not sorry, I’m just going to tell you that between being sick and riding the momentum I’ve had with job prospects and projects, I’ve been going with the flow and grateful that everything I’ve been hoping for for the last year is finally happening.

Food + Me = Bad news

When I first stopped blogging, I was sick. Not like a cold sick, but a “stomach bug- feeling bloated after eating anything- nothing staying down or sounding appealing” kind of sick. I didn’t want to look or even think of food, which obviously wasn’t helping this forum. Luckily, my favorite juice store helped me start to feel better with their amazing juices and smoothies, giving my digestive system a break, but also getting the nutrients I needed. Thank you Juice Press!

10th anniversary of September 11th

This was an emotional time for not only New Yorkers, but the whole country. We were all affected that day from losing someone you loved to feeling the terror of not being safe in your home country.

I live very close to the site so I pay tributes regularly to what happened. Even after 10 years and living here for 1, I still get chills when I walk by, especially at night. Because this is a normal occurrence, when my dad asked me if I wanted to go to Cape Cod to get out of the city for a long weekend, I immediately said yes.

Cape Cod is my favorite place as I grew up spending my whole summers there at my grandparents house. It’s safe, it’s familiar, it’s comforting so to be there on such an emotional weekend was a relief. It also made me reflect on this past year (I moved up on September 11, 2010) and create goals for the next year.

Back to school

That’s right, I started school again part-time. I literally came home from Cape Cod, unpacked, went to an interview, went to orientation, repacked and left for my parent’s house for the weekend. While I wanted to just drive all the way home with them, I started at the Natural Gourmet Institute that night.

Yes, I’ve been to culinary school before and while I can’t believe I’m back, I’m so excited for this program and what I’m going to learn. I’ll always be a dessert-focused girl. It’s just me. Starting to bake a honey date cake at 9 last night just because I wanted to experiment is a prime example. However, this program will round out my education while giving me that health aspect I’ve wanted to pursue after my independent study. I had looked at Public Health graduate programs, but I didn’t want to approach people from a textbook perspective, but a food perspective- something they can grasp, hold and learn. The goal is to teach and private chef in the future so as long as I remember the goal, bring on all the knife cuts!

Dessert table 

So not even 24 hours after I came back from the Cape, I was on a train back home for a friend’s wedding. One of my dear friend’s from the CIA was getting married close to my hometown so not only was I able to stay and see my parents and friends, but it made creating this table easier.

That’s my first formal dessert table. Unfortunately, the picture isn’t the best since I forgot my camera (dope!), but made friends with the photographer who will give me the beautiful pictures he took of it which I will share. Because of my pastry and event planning experience, I’ve always looked up to Amy Atlas, who is the queen of dessert tables, and was excited to do this for Mariely and Tim’s special day.

Thankfully it was a hit… whew!

Chix 6

Lastly, but certainly not the least, I’ve been involved with a musical that will hit Broadway next season and couldn’t be more excited and proud of the work we’re doing. I’m going to write a post specifically for this, but just for more information, you can look here for what it’s all about. I’m not singing (thankfully) or dancing, but as I’ll highlight later, I’m working to create the Lightning Girl Fun-dation, a foundation and program the show is starting to empower kids through the arts. Chix6 is all about women’s empowerment, not letting a guy take any dream away and staying true to yourself. Many of us have had issues with body image and self confidence in the past and this show is trying to change how we talk about it and talk to ourselves.

Truly powerful and something I’m so proud of.

Are you still reading? If you are, I’m impressed and I promise I’ll repay you with a honey cake recipe tomorrow.

I’m sorry it was so long, but that’s the momentum I was talking about. This year has been full of ups and downs for me. Sometimes I’m on cloud 9 and the next, I hate this city down to my core. It’s NYC. It’s not easy. But it’s also a place where if you stick it out, your dreams can truly come alive because this place creates opportunities and situations you’d never find anywhere else.

xo.

no-bake nutty chocolate crispy bars

As much as I love to bake, I’ve been more classically trained. Using butter, granulated sugar and eggs are not uncommon and while they’re not the most nutritious ingredients, I love them.

However, there’s a baker that I admire and always taunts me with delicious treats, Angela. The difference is that all of her deliciousness is vegan as she switched into the lifestyle within the last few years.

After being introduced to some vegan and even raw desserts, I wanted to learn how to start making them myself. I’m taking baby steps and that first baby step were her No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispies with PB “Fudge.” For anyone who love this combination of flavors, vegan or not, you need to make these now. They were so good and added another recipe into my memory.

When I shared them with some friends, they loved them too; but many said that they would have like more of the nut flavor to come out rather than the chocolate.

Ok, ok I know they’re crazy, but for my next attempt, I played around to see if I could deliver. Now, I’m actually more partial to these as you can also have fun with want nuts you want to showcase or have available. I’ve used peanut butter. I’ve used almond butter. Buy it, make your own… or for some more flair, make these with Ashley’s cake batter cashew butter

Then send them to me, please and thank you.

For a rainy day like today or a picnic in the colored leaves soon, these are the perfect treat to alway have on hand. Thank you Angela for starting me on my path to play around with vegan desserts!

Nutty Chocolate Crispy Bars (makes 16-20 squares or more depending on how you cut them)

inspired by Angela’s No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispies  with PB “Fudge”

for the base

1/2 cup nut butter

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1/4 cup nut milk or coconut milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups brown rice crispy cereal

1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

for the chocolate glaze

1/4 cup cocoa/cacao/carob powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 oz chocolate, chopped

1. Using parchment paper, line an 8×8 square pan from both sides with extra hanging over the edge. This will make cutting the bars easy in the end.

2. In a medium sauce pan, combine all the ingredients for the base except the brown rice cereal. Stir until everything is melted and mixed together completely.

3. Turn off the heat and add the cereal and nuts if using, mixing until it’s all coasted with the sticky mixture.

4. Pour into your prepared pan and put in the freezer while you make the topping.

5. In a small sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients for the glaze and stir until the chocolate is fully melted. It won’t take long so it’s best to just keep stirring so the chocolate doesn’t burn.

6. Take the base out of the freezer and pour the glaze right over the top, getting it to one smooth layer.

7. Put back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, but closer to an hour.

8. To cut, gently lift the overlaying paper and take the piece out of the pan. Using a knife that’s been warmed by hot water (yet dried with a towel before cutting), cut into desired square size.

9. Store cut squares in the freezer or refrigerator, so you always have a snack on hand 🙂

happy labor day!

Ok, so maybe I do make pies on occasion 😉

no bake blueberry pie with an almond crust

I hope you have a relaxing day with the ones you love… add a little extra sweetness too. It never hurts!

pie corps

Since Irene closed the market last week, Labor Day closed the market this week and I might miss the market the next two weekends because of travel, I’m having New Amsterdam Market withdrawals! Because this weekend is centered around saying “goodbye” to summer with barbecues and picnics, I thought I’d talk about a vendor from the market who makes my favorite dessert for this time of year.

Pie!

I’ve played around with crust recipes and fillings, but to be honest, I’m someone who likes to bake smaller, less intricate things like cookies or brownies. I’ve started to change my tune a little since I love cake and pie as well, but for the times where I want a really good pie, and not make it myself, there’s no one better to go to than Felipa Lopez and Cheryl Perry from Pie Corps.

Using seasonal ingredients for not only the filling, but locally sourced flour, butter and lard for their crusts, these two tease with flavors such as Fried Chicken Pie (crispy fried chicken thigh meat in a pot pie like gravy) and Garlic Greens and Feta Pie to Chess Pie (a buttermilk custard), Chocolate Pudding Pie with Rosemary Caramel (my personal favorite) or a perfect Cherry Pie.

Not only do the flavors shine, but sizes vary too. There are handpies and galettes perfect for lunch or dinner with a side salad, mason jar pies that are a great traveling snack for 1, or large pies to share with friends. If you need something sweet just for while you’re in the market, they’re pie pops are adorable, don’t you think?

They’re at the New Amsterdam Market every Sunday at the South Street Seaport from 11- 4 pm or at the Callicoon Farmer’s Market in Sullivan County most Sundays from 11- 2 pm.

taza chocolate covered hazelnuts

Any vices I have, usually are in the form of food.

Ok, maybe that’s not true, but what is true is that these little nuts are definitely a downfall.

A crunchy, more nutritious and whole food version of Nutella, this can has 8 servings in it. I never get more than 3 though…

…whoops!

If you want to join me in this bliss, visit Taza Chocolate to get more information on their stone-ground practices and how you can take a tour of their facility if you live or are visiting Somerville, MA, which I still need to do myself. You can also order online!

If you live in NYC, you can purchase their chocolate and nuts at Steve’s Ice Cream store, Bklyn Larder, the New Amsterdam Market every Sunday at South Street Seaport from 11-4 pm among other locations found here.

how to: make an easy meal + garden green rice

Sometimes the easiest dishes are the ones that bring us the most comfort and flavor. If you’ve been following my tweets lately, you’ve seen that I haven’t been feeling too well due to a stomach bug and allergies. Topped with a lot of life changes going on right now, my appetite has been everywhere and there have literally been days where I’ve stared into the refrigerator and nothing has sounded appealing. Food not being exciting to me… well it’s just plain odd, let me tell you.

Along with cooking up a bunch of vegetables in preparation for the next week on Wednesday after getting my CSA box, I like to cook up at least one bulk grain and protein source (usually in the form of a bean). This prep work makes healthy meals easy to make up not only for busy days, but for days when cooking just isn’t a priority. Unfortunately, the latter has been true lately and because of weekend preparation, this gem came to be.

A diced zucchini, a big handful of corn, and half of a roasted pepper, chopped, mixed wonderfully with the seasoned, nutty brown rice. Add some more vegetable stock and you can make it more like soup. Add some beans or shredded chicken to increase the protein. Add creamy goat cheese or nutritional yeast for a creamy component. Add some pesto and lemon zest for a herb brightness or tomato sauce for a hearty italian style meal. Add and subtract to your hearts content, but 1 grain, 1 protein and some vegetables, now that’s a meal anyone can make 🙂

comfort

when life feels a little unsteady…

when you don’t know which choice to make…

when you don’t know where the path will lead…

 

…it’s always a comfort to be with good friends around the dinner table, nourishing your body and laughing for your soul.

(the crispy potato gnocchi with green beans from Northern Spy Food Co)