Breakfasts, Musing, Snacks

Breakfast [or Anytime You Damn Well Please] Muffins

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I was asked a few weeks ago at an interview. I knew I wouldn’t find the answer scribbled in my notes, between ideas for recipe development and the blurb about what makes my voice ~unique~. I’ve never been asked something like this by a potential employer, and it was a decently pleasant surprise. And I bet its answer gives a little more insight into a person than asking whether they’re a strategic or tactical thinker, or where they see themself in five years.

When I was very small, I wanted to be an actress. I was that obnoxious eight year old who sang all the time: at family gatherings, in the grocery store, in the bathrooms at school for optimal echoes. I wanted to be on stage so badly. Itching to play Cosette or Belle or Maureen, I memorized the words to every soundtrack I got my hands on. I sang along with the familiar lyrics every week as I spooned out cookie dough onto baking sheets after school.

Then came the crippling stage fright. The heart-pounding, voice-shaking panic overtook me all at once—while I was onstage, no less. I was thirteen, auditioning for the middle school musical. Fourteen seconds into singing, I couldn’t hear the music over the pounding in my chest. I don’t remember if I even made it to the chorus. We heard Becca was a really good singer. I overheard one of the girls in the audience say. I wonder what happened? 

My greatest dream a crumbled mess of embarrassment, I moved backstage. With the faintest taste of bitter on my tongue, I sewed the hems and smeared foundation and lipstick on the kids who weren’t rendered mute under the spotlight. But I liked being close to the stage, and costuming was fun. I sliced through my best trays of thick fudgy brownies, brought the dark squares to tech week and thought, this is something I could do with myself.

While I applied to college with “journalism” and “studio art” selected on the Common App’s Major intention section, I rolled up to day one at Smith planning to declare theatre design the bulk of my coursework. Which shoes would a Chekhovian woman woman wear to walk around the orchard? How do six identical suits convey the hierarchy of office politics? Who would paint their nails red; why wouldn’t he wear this hat, but that one? I thought about color and exposed skin.

Cutting patterns didn’t give me the same feeling of purpose as it seemed to give my peers and professors. I was good at it, and felt proud seeing the finished productions, but I didn’t enjoy it. I took a job in the art museum over the costume shop. I stopped sketching for fun. I grew to dread those orange walls. The building smelled like stress.

I graduated with a specific degree in this field I’d entered into by default. I wouldn’t be applying to theatres or MFA programs, but I left the Pioneer Valley knowing what I wanted to do.

Food is what drives me, and writing is the way I package ingredients into substance. This past weekend was the fourth anniversary of writing this blog, and this is my 200th official post. I’ve been out of school for a long year. A year of cover letters and internships and almosts.

I snapped to attention to give an answer at the interview. I pretty good one, I think.


I’ve taken to making these muffins every two weeks or so, for easily transportable snacking. There are a million ingredients, yes, but I think they’re worth it.

Breakfast Muffins (GF, makes 12-15)

1 cup oats
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (cornstarch gets the job done too)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
½ black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 dried prunes
1 large carrot
1/2 green apple
2 very ripe bananas
2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup olive or melted coconut oil
3 eggs

coconut sugar (though any sugar will do)
sunflower seeds or pepitas

Preheat the oven to 400º F and grease a muffin tin. Place the oats in a food processor and grind into a course flour. In a large bowl, whisk the oat flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place the prunes in a bowl of very hot water and set aside. Grate the carrot and apple and set aside.

In a bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in buttermilk or yogurt, orange zest and oil. Blend the prunes into a paste in the food processor, then blend into the banana mixture. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients, then fold in the carrot and apple. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat for about a minute, then fold into the batter.

Scoop into the prepped muffin tin, then top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar and sunflower seeds. Bake 18-20 minutes.

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

Olive Oil Tortas


Summer is coming.

I can tell from this new light streaming through the window in the back room where I’m currently typing, blinding me in a way that is mostly uncomfortable, but also encouraging of the changing seasons.

Everyone around me can feel it too: The streets around the farmer’s market yesterday were more crowded, the lines outside the brunch spots longer. The cat does nothing but stare out the plate glass front door. It makes me feel like I should start eating every meal outside, even if it is still possibly a little to chilly for that.

As someone who marks time by thinking of past years, I can’t help but think back to the last time I saw this kind of weather. Back at school, in such a different state of mind and daily routine. I was so much better at exercising, at eating vegetables. Really good at drinking at least one beer a day, too. There was no daily commute, unless you count the seven minute walk to the theatre building. My world is so much bigger now, even though it feels matchbox-tiny.

I’m going to run now, even though I’m rusty. Old-spending-every-winter-weekend-couch-lounging habits die hard, I guess?

In the meantime, you can pour yourself a cup of coffee and head over to Tasting Table and read this thing I wrote. And to Food52 to read this thing, too. You’ll also find a pretty rad recipe for Olive Oil Tortas!

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Breakfasts

Challah French Toast

I’m not into New Year’s resolutions. Flashy, sweeping declarations of plans to make “better” choices: to work harder, to eat smarter, to exercise longer. From my own experience, such plans usually involve deprivation –which as a concept is inherently flawed– and are always abandoned not by accident, but by reaching a breaking point mid-February, if not earlier. The cold weather mixes with the lack of whatever I’ve decided to omit (breakfast pastries, bread, refined sugar) and I find myself binging on chocolate chips to the point of sickness. I’ll sit on the couch and think about the resolution I’ve effectively “ruined” and begin to loathe myself.

And it is because of this that I resolve that resolutions are not just overrated, but incredibly problematic. I will not make them anymore.

I didn’t make a resolution to start running last year, I just did it, because I was upset with so many things I couldn’t fix and ACTUALLY running away didn’t seem a real option. I haven’t gone running much these past few (er– five) months because I’ve been busier and much, much happier. I haven’t had that urge to run away from the gnawing pangs of failure, hunger, and general gloominess in my stomach. I’m less motivated to go on night runs after work because there are actual fun things to do in the evening now, not just post-class homework and bed. I should motivate myself though, because there is a certain inexplicable pleasure I get from running around. And the horrible darkness that seems to start at 4pm is actually slowly happening later, even if just minute by minute, so maybe that’ll help.

I will try to be nicer in the coming year– to be less judgmental, or nit-picky, or whatever one would care to call it. I will save more money, because I’ll never actually be able to move out if I keep buying pretty dresses and $8 yogurt on a regular basis. And I really want to move out. I should probably drink less coffee, but I don’t want to do that, so I very well may not. I will try to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’ll eat more bread and less dessert, because I prefer baguettes to cake and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll wear more glittery eyeshadow too, because I really like glitter.

And I’ll try to make French Toast more often, because wow, is it delicious.

Challah French Toast (serves a 4-6)

1 loaf Challah
4 eggs
a few good glugs of milk
dash or two of cinnamon and cloves
maple syrup

Make the Challah and let cool completely. Slice into fat slices. Heat a large pan on medium. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and spices in a bowl large enough to fit the bread. Two slices at a time, soak the bread in the egg mixture until fully saturated. Fry the bread until golden brown, then flip, cooking the other side until the bread is heated all the way through. Continue with the rest of the loaf of bread. Serve by the pile-ful with lots of butter and maple syrup.

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Breakfasts, Snacks

Crumbly Ginger Date Breakfast Cookies

The existence of ‘self’ is what keeps everybody from confronting their fears about the ground they happen to be standing on.
—Robert Smithson

I’ve never been a part of any organized worship, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. About one thing having enough power for someone to actually single it out as an exalted entity. My parents came from Conservative Jewish and Sunday Protestant families respectively, so my sister and I weren’t raised “religious” in the truest sense of the word. We know why there’s a three-day gap between Good Friday and Easter (it’s actually not this) and we can recite the Hanukkah blessings in Hebrew (which probably has more to do with liking to sing and less to do with studying religious text), but that’s pretty much the extent of it. When I was younger I sometimes felt like I missed out, as never got to complain about Sunday School nor did I have a Bat Mitzvah. Looking back, I understand I was—albeit unconsciously—given a fairly unique opportunity to explore my own relationship with worship. And while I’m attracted to certain aspects of religion, particularly to the sense of community involved in belonging to a house of worship, and to theological storytelling, I didn’t, and still don’t really, have a yearning to practice. Religion aside, I’ve never felt as though I regard anything with enough devotion to throw around the term “worship”. At least, not for something that doesn’t seem cliche or obvious. It means too much.

I prefer when people are honest. I like when it’s cloudy outside. I enjoy 85% dark chocolate. But I don’t worship “Truth” or “Nature” or “Theobroma cacao”. Someone asked me last year if I worshiped anything, likely as a test, because this person already had their semi-pseduo-intellectual answer ready to go. I vaguely recall saying something pretentious, like “food and the actions that come with it”, but that was a cop out. I have yet to find something so powerful that I feel the need to proclaim its control over how live my life, because honestly, that feels like it can get tricky. Am I doing things because I like them, or because I made the sweeping declaration to hold myself to a certain set of standards? Maybe it’s good to have dogma, but only if one can admit it may not stay the same forever. This has less to do with religion and more to do with worship in the ritualistic sense.

I can say with certainty that food is a powerful element of my life. I use it to ensure that I feel good. I try not to let it become something that controls every choice I make, but I can often fall into that pattern. I’d like to involve food in my future career, difficult as that may be. It’s personal and important, but it is not Everything (with a capital E). My favorite part about having to feed myself at school last year was that when I went grocery shopping, I controlled every element of my purchases. If I wanted to buy 25 cans of coconut milk I could. If I wanted to eat stir fry (or kale salad or Cocoa Puffs) for dinner five nights in a row, I could. There was no one telling me they’re bored of that meal, or they don’t like this particular vegetable, etc. It’s all extremely selfish, but sometimes it’s good to think about yourself.

Since I moved back home, breakfast seems to be the one meal where I can consistently eat whatever I want. I miss being able to make simply what pleases me, and I know I’ll have that again someday. But that day is not today. So in the meantime I will break up a ginger date breakfast cookie over yogurt and be okay with it.

****

Speaking of worship, horrific events like those that occurred at the University of Missouri on Wednesday, and in Paris (and Beirut and in Baghdad) on Friday only cause me –and many others, I imagine– to question further whether there is any sort of higher power controlling this world. Hundreds of people lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands lost their sense of security this week. No one can give a reason why, except for the chillingly open-ended term that seems to encapsulate so many recent acts of violence. If, like me, you’re another person in the States feeling helpless, it looks like the very least we can do is stay aware, alert, and supportive. I’m trying to read as much as I can about the events, I hope if you can spare the time you do the same.

****

Crumbly Ginger Date Breakfast Cookies (very loosely adapted from The Vibrant Table)

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
2 large pieces crystalized ginger
4 pitted deglet noor dates

1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Combine the flours, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the almond milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and fold together.

Finely chop the ginger and dates, and add to the batter along with the cocoa nibs. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop cookies onto the prepared tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are golden brown. In the meantime, combine the extra coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take the cookies out of the oven and while they’re warm place the sugar mixture in a fine mesh sieve and dust over the tops of the cookies.

 

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Breakfasts, Food Party, Main Dishes, Sides

Assorted Recipes from a Brinner Party

When it was still a billion degrees out, my friends joined together to eat a lot of food. Brinner food, to be specific. It was the third food party we had this summer, and they just kept getting better. So many of my favorite people were in one backyard and it honestly was hard to keep up. One of my favorite ladies from Smith just moved to Brooklyn, and she actually got on the train and trekked out to Jersey (you rock, Kelsey!) AND another of my best girls from high school was randomly visiting home from D.C., where she’s been living as a real person with a job and apartment and such. Not to mention a whole host of others from Montclair who were back in town for the summer/indefinitely (like yours truly~~) It actually made me waaaay too happy to see so many rad people in one space! As you’ll be able to tell, I was being the paparazzi and taking all these pictures (thanks for not slugging me while I photographed you eating, friends!)

I think my favorite part about being a “grownup” (planning to use the air-quotes until I no longer have to text my parents with questions when filling out a tax form. Not that that happened at work this week or anything. ANYWAY) is the fact that a group of us can get together on a Monday night and drink a lot of beer without a care. No more sneaking sips of tequila/cheap wine out of plastic cups in between slices of pizza in the basement! We now drink cherry-flavored malt beverages out of the bottle in BROAD daylight (hi Eve) and it is pretty darn wonderful. Read on for the inside scoop of the recipes behind the brinner, made by my lovely friends Emily, Rebecca, Eve– and me!

Vegan Zucchini Bread (adapted ever so slightly from About.com)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cups melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scraped vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons extract)
3 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease four mini-loaf pans with vegan butter  or oil. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, oil, vegan milk, and vanilla for a minute or two or until the mixture comes together (any oil separation is fine!) Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with half the grated zucchini. Mix until combined, then fold in remaining zucchini. Divide batter among prepared loaf pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, testing with toothpick after 40. You can also bake 2 9-inch loaves at 325 degrees F for 70-80 minutes.  Allow loaves to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before removing from the pans. The original recipe also includes an optional crumble topping, but I found the bread sweet enough on its own! Plus, I tend to slather loaf breads in jam, so the less sweet the better.

Charred Carrots w/ Lemon Mint Butter (recipe by Rebecca Klein)

3 pounds large carrots cut on the bias
1/2 cup butter
1/2 fresh mint
2 lemons
salt to taste
vegetable/canola oil for cooking
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Chop mint, reserving one tablespoon and set aside. Zest and juice the lemons, separating the zest from the juice. Melt the butter in saucepan over low heat, making sure it doesn’t bubble. Once the butter is very hot, and zest and majority of the mint. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl large enough to fit all the carrots

In the largest skillet you have (preferably a cast iron,) add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on high until it just begins to ripple or smoke. Add in a single layer of cut carrots. Sprinkle with salt on the top side. Allow the carrots to cook until parts become black and charred, but not so long that the whole side is burnt. Once the first side is slightly charred, flip carrots and repeat the same process on the other side (omitting the salt.) Once they have cooked on both sides, transfer to the large bowl along with the mint-lemon-butter mixture. This way, the carrots acquire a nice charred flavor without becoming too soft, so keep your heat up high, as once you remove them from the heat they will continue to cook. Repeat with remaining carrots. Once all carrots are cooked, add the lemon juice and the honey if using to the mixture, along with the reserved mint, and toss it all together.  Allow to sit at room temperature for twenty to thirty minutes, so. This can be served hot, but I prefer it at room temperature, so you can let it sit until fully cooled.

Frittata

2 white onions
1 bunch chard
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
a solid amount of feta cheese (we recommend buying a block and crumbling it yourself, there’s better flavor there)
1/2 cup dairy (2% or whole milk, sour cream, crème fraîche, etc.)
12 eggs

Caramelize the onions in a pan with a few glugs of olive oil. When the onions are done, transfer them to a bowl. Mince the garlic and dice the bell pepper. Wash, chop, and sautée the chard in the caramelized onion pan with the minced garlic and more oil as needed. Add chard to the onion bowl, then sautée the peppers in the same pan, adding more oil as needed along the way. Add to the onion/chard bowl. Crumble the feta. Follow these instructions using the aforementioned add-ins. We used a cast iron skillet because they are perfect.

Vegan Onion and Tofu Quiche (from Another Dinner is Possible; measurements converted from grams, so they are subject to change/standard deviation)

8-inch Crust (aka “flan case”)
±2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, optional
±1/2 cup margarine or 1/3+2 tbsp vegetable shortening, or other solid vegan butter substitute
ice water

Filling
8-10 onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
sprig of fresh thyme
17 ounces extra firm tofu
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons miso
±3/4 cup vegan milk
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
yeast flakes (optional)
salt and pepper

Make the crust: Sift flour, salt, and herbs if using in a large bowl. Cut the butter substitute into chunks and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture makes coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of water and blend, then add more water by the spoonful until the dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead it to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours)

After crust has chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pie or tart pan with vegan butter or oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to form a ~10″ circle. Carefully roll the dough onto your rolling pin to transfer onto greased baking pan, fluting the edges if you so desire. Prick all over crust with a fork to let steam out. Cover the crust in foil and fill cavity with pie wights or dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, removing the foil for the last five to let the crust let a little brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Assemble the quiche: Thinly slice onions and caramelize in a pan with the vegan butter and oil over low heat for 20-30 minutes, adding thyme halfway through. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Blend the remaining ingredients together in a food processor or blender, tasting along the way for seasoning. Spread onions onto pre-baked crust and pour tofu mixture over. Bake for about 20 minutes, until filling seems mostly set and golden brown. Set aside to set up further for another 15  minutes or so.

Also on the menu
Bon Appétit’s Plum and Fennel Salad
Jessie Snyder’s Berry Scones
Roasted Potatoes (like these)
Toaster waffles (thanks Sam!!)
Beer
Ice Cream from Emily’s freezer, consumed straight from the container after a few too many of the aforementioned beers

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Book Review, Breakfasts

182

Written by Carla Bartolucci in an effort to create a solid collection of recipes for her daughter, who is sensitive to gluten, Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat is a refreshing alternative to fully phasing out wheat for health reasons. Einkorn acts similarly to regular wheat in recipes, but has been proven not to bother the digestive systems of those who are sensitive. Since it is not 100% gluten free, this is not a book for those living with celiac. While all wheat is a descendant of wild einkorn, the einkorn available to consumers today is the same that was available hundreds of years ago, as it’s the only wheat that hasn’t been hybridized. Essentially, hybridization is the crossing of two different species of wheat form a new variety. These new hybridized strains of gluten can be rougher on the stomach, while others do offer comfort to those with gluten aversions. We’ve all heard of spelt at least in passing, right? It’s one of those “miracle” grains for those with gluten sensitivity. Well, spelt emerged as a result of the hybridization of emmer and wild goat grass. Since emmer was already a hybridized wheat, spelt contains six sets of chromosomes. Since einkorn only has two, it’s often been ignored by farmers in favor of higher-yielding varieties. Science aside, einkorn is also a great new ingredient for cooks who are simply interested in making foods using alternative grains (hi.)

The book opens with a comprehensive history of grain (did you think I just knew stuff about wheat hybridization?) There’s a charting of the levels of protein the grain contains as opposed to its contemporaries, like quinoa, oats, spelt, and so on. An extremely intriguing passage was the discussion of why einkorn’s gluten is different. The grain is not lower in gluten; in fact it has comparable or even higher levels than modern wheat. However, einkorn’s gluten is lacking in the –to use Carla’s excellent phrase– “extreme stickiness” of normal wheats used in baking, particularly of bread. Basically, the gluten-forming proteins in einkorn don’t act in the same manner as they do in standard wheat, and as a result, those with gluten sensitivity can often handle the levels of gluten in einkorn. There are other sections that explain the basics of bread-baking, the correct way to begin sourdough starter, and how to properly sprout and flake wheat berries.

The recipe chapters of Carla’s book are full of a great variety of sweet and savory recipes that essentially swap standard wheat for einkorn. But this is not a book of simply altered standards. The recipes are original and innovative (olive oil & wine cookies, spiced wheat berry custard tart, tomato rosemary focaccia) with a few classics thrown in for good measure (sticky buns, pizza.) I’m particularly fond of the “Street Food” sections, which boasts wheat berry arancini, Korean dumplings, and crêpes. A few of the recipes involve sprouting/soaking einkorn wheat berries for several hours, so make sure you read the recipe closely (basically, don’t be me and get extremely pumped for einkorn veggie burgers TODAY and then realize the recipe takes well over 24 hours to come to life. Sadness. I am v impatient sometimes.)

Even though there is a shop section of Carla’s website where one can purchase einkorn products, I will say that the book could have benefitted from a sourcing section. I couldn’t find einkorn products at my local Whole Foods, A&P, or Kings. I didn’t try Shop Rite, Trader Joes, or the larger Whole Foods in a neighboring town (but I bet the latter would have it,) so I ended up purchasing the wheat berries on Amazon. It didn’t really change my life, other than the fact that I had to wait for the two-day shipping.

For the first recipe I made from Carla’s book, I went for a basic breakfast porridge, because I love bowl food and I love breakfast. The porridge is very mild, a cross between cream of wheat and very soft oatmeal. While I realize the rest of the world doesn’t care for baby food-textured things as much as I do, I really think the rest of the world ought to reconsider. Ease into the mushy food. Don’t think too hard about it. Focus on the flavor. Maybe add some toasted almonds and maple syrup. I think you’ll change your mind.

Einkorn Porridge (from Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat; serves many by the bowlful)

1 1/2 cups einkorn wheat berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
desired fixins: milk, syrup, jam. nutella, honey, shredded coconut, chia seeds, toasted nuts, dried fruit, sliced avocado + olive oil (sounds weird, but was definitely my favorite)

Soak the wheat berries in 3 cups water overnight. In the morning, drain the wheat berries in a fine mesh seive and rinse thoroughly under cold water for 5 minutes. Place the rinsed berries in a food processor. Pulse until the wheat has cracked (resembling steel cut oats) and then add 1 cup water. Process until the mixture is coarse and creamy, about 30 seconds.

In a medium-large saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and ground wheat berries/ return to a boil, stirring constantly, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm with desired fixins. This recipe makes a lot, so luckily it keeps in the fridge for up to three days and is easily reheated with a bit of water or milk. If you’re planning on being the only one eating this, I’d recommend halving the recipe. If you’re feeding a group of 3+ you’ll be good to go.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Breakfasts, Snacks

173

Zucchini Carrot Muffins (GF)

In the past few days, I’ve realized it’s completely possible to lose hours upon hours in the food internet world. I’m home alone for the most part now, which was an extreme rarity at school. Someone was always around to break up my excessive perusal of food blogs and goodfoodjobs.com and Grub Street and Eater and Munchies and– I think I should stop there. The moment of realization came the other day when I sat down at my computer with a giant mug of coffee at 9 in the morning and was in a media haze until my phone rang well past noon. Not the best. And while baking can break up the day to an extent, even that can get a little cumbersome. There are only so many cookies I can bake before I need to either get a bigger freezer or more friends to help me eat everything (speaking of which, if anyone is hungry and in Montclair, there are at least three brownies or compost cookies with your name on them. I’ve gotten rave reviews by the smart folks who’ve taken me up on this so far, just saying.)

I want to get into more ambitious kitchen projects now that I’m no longer a full-time student. Recipes than don’t have to come together in less than an hour and then are just dumped in the freezer. That always seemed to be the case this past year as I did my best to keep up the blog and an acceptable GPA and some semblance of a social life. I really want to throw a fancy food party complete with lots of unique kitchen experiments and some sort of festive theme (something like this or this. Or this if I really dreamed big/had more than ten square feet of table space.) But planning a food party takes a lot of time and energy. And cleanup. So the few parties we ended up throwing turned out much more akin to a typical college soiree..the only food that was ever present was Jello shots. And one time someone who worked at a bakery in town showed up with freshly baked bread and cookies. As proud as I am of my Jello shot makin’ skills, I’m just dying to tackle a more intense food party. Hopefully this summer I can make it happen. Not to brag or anything, but I do have a very snazzy fire pit in my backyard soooo.

Some things I plan to make for these food parties that may not actually ever happen:

This Fig And Walnut Bostock. Looks like if french toast and bread pudding got together inside a really trendy cafe.

A fluffy, crunchy (two adjectives you didn’t think go together, I bet) Pavlova with strawberry rhubarb cream and pistachios.

I think I’d forget how on the fence I am about tomatoes while making this heirloom tomato tart..it’s just so pretty.

These savory cheddar waffles are also making me question my tomato ambivalence.

I’m 100% invested in learning how to grill and these jerk chicken kebobs are calling to me. As are these shrimp skewers.

Who isn’t a fan of anything cooked in beer? I want to make these mussels asap. They’re also apparently the best thing to serve at a dinner party anyway so I think I’m on the right track.

And also because I’ve spent so much of this post talking about food parties, I think it’s only fair you all watch a few episodes of this, as that is its title. And it is the weirdest, coolest thing ever.

Until I can gather up some people to actually eat all the things I plan to make for these food parties, I’m sticking with recipes that can be easily frozen and defrosted as family and friends want to indulge. Hence these muffins. Don’t be scared by the veggies in the title, cooked carrots are super sweet and zucchini has essentially no flavor alone, and when baked up with sugar and coconut oil and cinnamon it has no flavor at all! Some baked recipes that involve zucchini instruct one to squeeze all the water out of the veggies before adding them to the batter. Not the case here; the water helps loosen up the very thick batter and ultimately makes a more tender muffin. Also, don’t be afraid of garbanzo bean flour. It may seem weird to use a chickpea-based ingredient in a sweet breakfast item, but it’s really just mild and creamy. And it’s full of protein- in fact, it has the same amount as almond flour, so it’s a really great alternative if you’re looking for an alternative to putting nuts in everything, as I’m currently attempting. I also used coconut sugar, which has the same ratio as regular sugar when swapping, but is infinitely better for the body. I felt like they were sweet enough with 1/4 cup of sugar (mostly because I love slathering jam on muffins, which obviously adds a lot of sweetness,) but you do what makes you happy. I also feel like 1/4 cup of cocoa nibs or chocolate chips would be extremely good thrown in here for good luck. Happy breakfasting!

Muffins (makes 12-15)

1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4- 1/2 cup coconut sugar (depending on how sweet you like muffins)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
1/4 cup raisins or craisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin with solid coconut oil or cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl combine both flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and spices.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the melted coconut oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla; stir to combine. The batter will be thick, resembling cookie dough.

Add the shredded carrots and zucchini (and raisins if using) and combine. F

ill the muffin tins halfway-3/4 of the way full and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden. Devour with butter, honey, jam, date cream, yogurt, or au naturel!

 


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Breakfasts, Desserts

171

No-Bake Seedy Mocha Coconut Slice (V, GF)

First post back in my trusty Jersey kitchen! I’ve missed it so. The weirdly yellow speckled floors. The full-sized food processor. THE DISHWASHER. I can’t even describe how many times in the past few days I’ve started washing things by hand and then remembered I can just toss it in a thing that will clean the dishes for me!! No more waking up to a sink full of things I was too lazy to clean the night before. Truly a miracle.

As much as I love having certain things back, it sure is weird being in a real house again for the long haul. I realize like four times a day l have yet to turn off all my alarms telling me about work shifts at the museum and production meetings at the theatre. I can’t remember where I left my bag or shoes or iPod or sunglasses because I can’t just throw them into the same corner of my apartment every time I come home anymore (my roommates totally loved me, can you tell?) I’m taking a big risk if I leave my computer plugged in unattended because a certain member of the household likes to sharpen his fangs on electrical cords when no one is watching. On the other hand, it’s a dream come true to be able to jump in the car and be five minutes away from Whole Foods. It’s actually going to become a problem soon. I like grocery shopping way too much, don’t judge meeee. I’m also growing quite fond of this whole waking up to a pot of coffee already brewed thing. And having a big tv instead of my tiny laptop to re-watch all of Mad Men explore important documentary films. I’ll start my summer job soon enough, but until then I’ve really been getting into having nothing to do. And I’ll continue being a big fan for maybe another week, then I’ll start to go insane and probably begin crafting again. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s talk about food. Specifically this recipe. It originated from a recipe by my all-time favorite vegan blogger Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes. While rummaging in the fridge for dates, I found a container of prunes. And because I’ve been trying real hard to broaden my food-horizons lately I ate one. I was not a fan. Que sera, sera. However, the texture was very promising, as in it resembled a perfectly moist date. Lo and behold, pruney date crust is slammin’! And while I’m not too fond of them on their own, when blended with super sweet dates and nuts and coffee and chocolate, they add a whole new world of flavor. So don’t knock it til you try it, trust me! The greatest thing about this treat is that it’s totally substantial enough to be breakfast, but decadent enough to have for dessert (with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, duh.) PS- if you have a nut allergy, omit the almonds and almond milk; bump up the oats to 1 1/4 cup, the pepitas to 1/4 cup, and swap the almond milk for the water your dates/prunes have been soaking in! Also thx to Emily for being my hand model extraordinaire~

Slice (adapted from Ashlae Warner, via eHow)

1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons pepitas
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon coffee grounds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
heavy pinch vanilla sea salt (or just normal, I won’t tell)
12 deglet noor dates
3 prunes
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup almond milk (or date water)
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup

shredded coconut, chopped almonds, cocoa nibs, crystalized ginger, dried chopped fruit, etc. (for topping)

Make the crust: Place the dates and prunes in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for at least ten minutes. Drain, reserving the water to replace almond milk in this recipe (or for adding further deliciousness to a smoothie!) Blend the almonds, pepitas, coconut, oats, coffee, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor until it turns into a fairly fine meal. Add the dates, prunes, cocoa nibs, and extract (if using) and blend until combined. Add the almond milk or date water and pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or if you’re me and just moved all your kitchen equipment from one home to another, use whatever you have hanging around that vaguely resembles said tart pan; in this case, a spring form pan. See, they’re not just for cheesecakes!) and put it in the freezer to make it bake.

Make the topping: Whisk together the coconut oil and cocoa powder until smooth, it will resemble melted chocolate. Add the maple syrup and whisk well. (Spoiler alert: this is the BEST and easiest vegan chocolate frosting if you’re ever in a pinch.)

Put it all together: Take the crust out of the freezer. Working quickly, spread the topping over the crust with an offset spatula and sprinkle with additional desired toppings! Good luck getting this to last over two days, but Ashlae assures us it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks!


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Breakfasts, Desserts

170

Basic Chia Pudding (V, GF)


I’ve been training myself recently to like foods I’ve been weirded out by in the past. So far I’ve succeeded with mushrooms, the outside (but not insides) of zucchini and tomatoes. Jello too- though does it count if I only consume it when raspberry flavored and mixed with vodka in shot form? Aheh. It’s all because of the texture. I’m not really about gelatinous things, but I’m working on it. Next on the list: chia seeds. How do you feel about these bad boys? I’m okay with them as egg replacers in vegan baking for sure, and recently have come around to throwing a tablespoon or so in my morning oatmeal and granola bowls, where the food gets eaten before the seeds fully gel. Since it’s a huge thing all over the blogosphere, I figured I kinda had to give chia pudding a try. So I did. And I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I made it unsweetened first, just to experiment. That was pretty bleh by itself, but very good in oatmeal and smoothies. However, when drowned in maple syrup and nuts/seeds I was a big fan, as it was fairly comparable to rice pudding. But really, what isn’t good with syrup? I also discovered that it’s totally a thing to blend it up, which is much more attractive to me (see above re: texture issues.) I think I’ll try that next time, along with the chocolate. I definitely still have some experimenting to do in this category, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out these things:

This is everything.

I had a rice burger the other night from a Korean food truck- literally two sticky rice patties filled with spicy pork, kimchi, and veggies wrapped up tightly in an aluminum foil blanket. It was sweet and spicy with a side of sweet potato chips and oh my goooodness it was slammin. From what I can gather on the internet, it’s called a “bob burger,” (no, not because of the tv show..) as rice is 밥 in Korean and was then Romanized as “bab” or “bob.” Is this correct? Someone inform me! Anyway, I could’ve eaten about twelve of them and will be devoting a great deal of my time to making my own in the future. I’m a big, big fan of burgers one can eat with a fork.

Ikea has PLANS for our future and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I can’t wait to be back home -in 8 days (?!!!??)- purely so I can take full advantage of this quiz all the time.

New Anthony Bourdain cookbook coming soon !!!! sadosidjahuisdoisdpd I’m only a little excited

Wes Anderson designed a cafe, because apparently Milan wasn’t already trendy enough?

PS- Happy Mother’s Day to any Moms reading today!

PPS- I made a Twitter, because one of my post-grad goals is to understand all the social media things. Someone help me learn how to do this!

Chia Pudding (serves 2-4) 

scant 1/3 cup chia seeds
1 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. (optional)

Whisk up all the ingredients and pour into a jar/your desired vessel. Place in the fridge for at least several hours, preferably overnight so the seeds fully gel (I know- ick) and achieves pudding consistency. Top with nuts, dried/fresh fruit, and maybe even some coconut whipped cream!


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Breakfasts

168

Fruit and Grain Breakfast Bowl
(V,GF…but only if you want it to be)

A few mornings ago I woke up and went about my routine as usual. I fumbled around with the coffeemaker, put away some dishes; you know the drill. But the greatest thing happened when I opened the living room door/window: instead of being greeted with the usual chilly 7am wind, there was a -dare I say it- warm spring breeze!! I honesty can’t describe how happy it made me. So, being a weirdo, I dug out my *shorts* from the bottom of my pile of winter leggings and ran around outside for a while with a giant smile on my face (c’mon, let’s be real, running > homework.) And then, to make things even better, when I got to my favorite park, I found that ALL THE SNOW HAD MELTED! Now, I understand that most of the snow has been gone for weeks, I’m not that unobservant. But since I’ve been living in the theatre for the past month, the last time I ran outside was easily back in early March. I couldn’t even see the asphalt path in the park, let alone run on it. So it was a really big moment for me, as you can likely tell. I got back home and realized that I didn’t need a steamy bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I could have something cold and it wouldn’t even matter! So I gathered up my trusty oats and about a million different fixin’s and set out to make a giant bowl of happy spring food. It’s not really cooking, but I thought I’d share the “recipe” with you guys anyway. Make it with all the things I suggest, or don’t; it’s up to you!

Spring just feels right. Don’t get me wrong, summer is where it’s at -I’m a large proponent of Birkenstocks and cutoff shorts and falling asleep in the sand on a beach- but spring has some kind of weird power. I can’t completely place it, but it’s wonderful. I keep saying this over and over because it’s kind of a revelation. But, y’know, one that obviously happens literally every year and is probably not super exciting to others. It is to me, though. In fact, I was talking about this very feeling the other day. Walking along the Northampton bike path, it was windy and the sun was warm on my face and I just kept feeling that I’d been in that exact moment before, but at the same time it was completely new. The resolution for what exactly spring feels like? It’s deja vu mixed with hopeful anticipation, and perhaps a small side of nostalgia. Don’t you agree? Think about it over a bowl of the following recipe while I go drink this cup of coffee in the sun on my patio.

Breakfast Bowl (serves 1)

1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup your favorite cereal (I’ve been very into this and this lately)
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
handful dried cranberries and/or raisins
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
1 large piece crystalized ginger, diced
1 tablespoon roasted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons dried shredded coconut
1/2 large green apple, chopped into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons cooked quinoa
your preferred type of milk or yogurt

things I did not have in my kitchen, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve been grocery shopping, but would be slammin in this: 
banana
grapes
fresh or dried raspberries
strawberries
dried apricots
toasted pepitas
other nuts, raw or toasted

I like to build this bowl starting with dry ingredients and ending with the wet/damp, but you should do whatever your heart desires. Top with milk or yogurt and enjoy, preferably outside!


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