Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone

StuffedApricots-2 copyDaniel and I are home from Spain! We really didn’t want to leave though.There is nothing quite like family bonding time over great tapas and beer. Daniel has promised to write a few posts about our trip (including restaurant recommendations!), so you can expect that shortly. Until then, you can snack on these stuffed apricots with me and dream about the Mediterranean. Happy weekend!StuffedApricots-1

Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone

Ingredients:

3 apricots

2 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese

6 raspberries

6 mint leaves

2 Tbsp. chopped macadamia nuts

2 tsp honey

3 apricots

Directions:
1. Wash apricots. Slice in half and take out pit. Place on a plate.
2. Stuff the center of each apricot with 1 tsp of mascarpone.
3. Wash and dry raspberries. Put on top of apricots.
4. Wash and dry mint leaves. Put on top of apricots.
5. Sprinkle apricots with macadamia nuts and drizzle with honey.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine

ShreddedKaleSalad-1Blog - 358A co-worker saw me eating kale the other day and thought he would tell me a funny story about a client and kale. He said this client ordered a kale salad for lunch one day. This client took one bite of their salad, put the fork down disappointed and exclaimed rather frustratingly that their kale was not massaged. My co-worker started laughing hysterically once he finished the story and I…. well I was thinking, damn I really hate when my kale isn’t massaged too. Blog - 359I mean, come on. It’s not like I would send my kale salad back to the kitchen. But my general frustration with restaurants is not doing vegetables well and this falls under the umbrella of having so much potential and falling short. Personally, I enjoy kale so much more when it is massaged. Yes, it sounds hilarious, but it is so much less bitter. Hence, a massaged kale salad for you today.ShreddedKaleSalad-2Laugh at me all you want until you massage your kale and realize you will be THAT person at a restaurant asking if the kale salad is massaged because you’re hooked.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine: serves 2

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 oz tempeh
1 bunch lacinato kale
2 green onions
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups spinach
1 nectarine
1/3 cup shaved manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. toasted slivered almonds

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds.
2. Crumble tempeh into skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Wash kale and remove stems. Stack kale and cut into thin strips.
4. Wash green onions and thinly slice.
5. In a small bowl mix apple cider vinegar, honey and salt and pepper.
6. Slowly whisk in 3 Tbsp. olive oil into the vinegar until well combined.
7. In a large bowl mix kale, green onions and half of dressing. Massage kale with hands for 1 minute.
8. Add spinach to kale and toss.
9. Wash nectarine and slice. Add nectarine, tempeh, manchego, almonds and remaining dressing to the salad and mix well.
10. Salt and pepper to taste.


Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing

 

endive 1Two weeks ago I flew home to celebrate one of my best friend’s upcoming wedding. Getting ready for the bridal shower and thinking about all the bridesmaids made me realize that we have all known each other since kindergarten. Which is pretty impressive given the time, distance and challenges we have all faced since then. If you ask my friend, the bride, she would lovingly tell you a tale about my kindergarten “bully” self who apparently made her cry and then one day I was nice to her and she got so excited. We have been friends ever since.

endive 2We have served at several community service events together, traveled to Japan together freshman year in high school (bonded over missing our mothers), had a crush on the same boy (yikes!), went to countless dances together, “stalked” other boys by walking by their house just hoping that they would come outside (the things we do when we have crushes..), laughed, cried, shared, inspired, motivated, complained, supported each other through college and now we are here. At another momentous life event. I can’t wait to celebrate, laugh and cry with you. You are beautiful inside and out. YOU deserve a lifetime of happiness. I truly meant what I said at your bridal shower, hold each other accountable to your dreams and never stop adding to your LOVE STORY.

XOXO… two weeks and counting!

endive3 copy

Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing

Ingredients:

2 heads of endive, washed and dried (roughly 10 usable leaf per head, so 20 total)

5-6 oz of goat cheese

10 strawberries, washed and thinly sliced vertically (remove stem)

5 kumquats, washed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped pecans, raw, toasted or candied all work well

fresh thyme or other herb of your choice to garnish

Dressing:

2 tsp champagne vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tbs sugar

Directions:

1. Mix champagne vinegar, orange juice and sugar in a medium bowl. Soak the strawberry and kumquat slices in the dressing for about 10 minutes.

2. Cut each endive leaf from the head without breaking in the middle. Make a clean cut near the base of the head. Make sure all leaves are thoroughly dried.

3. Assemble leaves on a large plate. Crumble and distribute goat cheese evenly by placing the goat cheese in the bottom 2/3 of the leaf.

4. Mix the fruit in the dressing and then spoon the strawberries on top of the goat cheese. Next add 1-2 slices of kumquat. Spoon extra dressing over the leaves and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

5. Garnish with a small piece of thyme or other fresh herb of your choice.


Quick Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrot Blog 1It was a bright and chilly morning when I woke up in Rome. I was sharing a room and an apartment with 11 other girls. I was taking risks (hello shaving the side of my head spontaneously), I was learning, I was growing, I was becoming even more of an adult. And my adult self felt inclined to get out of bed, go to the train station, look up inexpensive tickets, buy a ticket and explore somewhere new on my own. This was by far one of my favorite days I spent abroad. While the train was gliding through the countryside, I sat patiently waiting and reading. This has stayed with me for years and I often return to this passage.

“For the first time in my life i saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth-that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impact: the salvation of man is through love and in love”

– Viktor E. Frankl

Roasted Carrot Blog

Quick Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

6 large carrots, washed, both ends trimmed

1 1/2 Tbs olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of paprika

Pinch of cumin

1/4 cup of hummus to garnish (optional)

Roasted almonds to garnish (optional)

Fresh herbs to garnish (optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut carrots into chunk of about 2-3″. Cut the thicker end pieces into half lengthwise.

3. In a medium bowl, toss carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin, making sure all carrots are coated well.

4. Place carrots cut side down on parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes or until they are tender and caramelized.

5. Let cool for 10 minutes and plate with hummus, almonds and fresh herbs if you desire.


Rosemary Focaccia

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetRemember when I told you about my hesitation to attempt yeast breads? Well, focaccia helped me get over my fears of making bread. I have made this recipe several times now and I use different toppings while keeping the same base recipe of this wonderful Rosemary Focaccia from The Kitchn. They clearly outline the steps and make you feel more at ease. I love using The Kitchn as a resource for recipes, inspiration, tips and tricks.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOnce I have made a nice batch of focaccia, I use it to make our snack plates and cheese plates at the office. The one below has roasted artichoke, wine soaked cheese, truffle cheese, rosemary raisin crackers, asian pear, green apple and crumbled blue cheese. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Rosemary Focaccia from The Kitchn

Makes one large focaccia or two 9″ x 13″ small focaccia breads

What You Need

Ingredients
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 tablespoons (approximately) good extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Several pinches of Maldon salt (or other flakey sea salt)

* My notes: I like to add small fresh mozzarella balls or cherry tomatoes on top. If you using mozzarella, squeeze out some of the liquid so it is not soggy and bake until golden brown.

Equipment
11-cup (or larger) food processor (See Recipe Notes for other mixing options)
Measuring cups and spoons
Medium sized bowl
Large sized bowl
1 baking sheet (16″x12″ or similar size)
Wire cooling rack

Instructions

1. Dissolve and proof the yeast. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl. Wait a few minutes for the mixture to start to foam up. This isproofing the yeast. (You can skip this step if you are confident that your yeast is good and strong.)

2. Make the dough. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flours and salt to combine. Add the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pulse until a rough ball of dough forms, about 1 minute. Remove from the dough from food processor. It should be moist but not too sticky. Form it into a ball. (See Recipe Notes, below, for instructions on making dough without a food processor.)

3. Leave it to rise. Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a large bowl. Put in the ball of dough and turn it so it is coated on all sides. Cover with a tea towel and place it in a warm place to double in bulk, about 2 hours.

4. Put the dough into the pan. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil onto the baking sheet and rub it over the bottom and sides. Punch down the dough and place the dough on the baking sheet. Using your fingertips, coax and stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pan; it may not reach all the way to the edges. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rest, about 30-40 minutes.

→ You can also divide the dough in half with a sharp knife to make one smaller loaf for smaller gatherings, and freeze the other half of dough for later. Smaller focaccia breads can be baked on a quarter-sized baking sheet (9-1/2″ x 13″) or in the center of a regular baking sheet. To freeze the second half, place the dough in a freezer bag, squeeze out the excess air, seal, label, and freeze.

5. Preheat the oven and prep the rosemary. While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Strip the rosemary leaves from the stems. If the rosemary leaves are large, chop them with a knife. You can leave a few of the smaller, softer leaves whole. You should have about 2 scant tablespoons.

6. Prep the focaccia for baking. When the focaccias have puffed up in the pan a little, sprinkle the rosemary evenly over the surface. Using your fingertips, dimple (make shallow indentations) the surface of the focaccia all over. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the loaf, so the oil pools in the indentations here and there. Use a little more if needed. Sprinkle the loaf with 2 or 3 pinches of the flaky salt.

7. Place in the oven and bake. Place in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 375F. Bake about 20 – 25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes. The focaccia is ready when it’s golden-brown.

8. Remove from oven and cool. Remove bread from oven. Using a hot pad or spatula, remove the bread from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Focaccia is best eaten when warm, but perfectly fine at room temperature. If the crust gets too soft, try popping it back in a 350°F oven for a few minutes to crisp it up.

Recipe Notes:

Make Focaccia in a Mixer: Knead the dough in a standing mixer fit with a hook attachment for 5-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Make Focaccia by Hand: Mix the dough in the bowl with a sturdy spoon until it is as smooth as possible. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Make Focaccia Rounds: To make 4-8″ round focaccia, just divide the dough in half and bake in two 8″ cake pans.

Additional Toppings: Add any of these toppings before baking — very thinly sliced lemons, olives (whole or sliced in half), thick slices of fresh garlic or shallots, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, a few chopped sundried tomatoes, cubed pancetta. Instead of rosemary, try using fresh thyme, chives, or oregano. If you want to use fresh basil, sprinkle it on after baking.

Working with Refrigerated Dough: The dough can also be held overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator, which will retard the yeast and result in a slow rise and extra flavor. Pick up the instructions with step 4 above. No need to warm the dough before using, but allow extra time for it to rise before baking.

Working with Frozen Dough: If you are using frozen dough, let it defrost in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. When you are ready to bake, take it out of the refrigerator and stretch it in the pan, as directed in step 4 above. Continue to follow instructions from there.


Cherry Almond Gluten Free Cookies

GF cookie 6January is a HARD month for me and I think for many people. The holiday cheer is gone. The guilt about holiday weight gain sets in. The weather leaves a little something to be desired. You DON’T want to leave bed and go to work, because bed is sooooooo nice and cozy and inviting. These are my thoughts. I want it to be February already.GFCookies2This is what happens when I walk into the kitchen to experiment. Feel free to sub the dried fruit or mixture of nuts to your liking, but I would stick with the measurements I have used. These are pretty healthy, chewy and surprised me when they came out of the oven. The first time I actually left them raw and they definitely work as a raw bar, BUT when  you bake them and they come out of the oven warm, they feel so much more indulgent and satisfying, trust me.GFCookies5Hope everyone has a good weekend. I plan to have a restorative weekend filled with lots of relaxation, yoga, cooking and reading. Happy Friday!GFCookies

Cherry Almond Gluten Free Cookies: makes 18 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw almonds

½ cup raw cashews

½ cup raw or toasted macadamia nuts

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

3 tbs coconut oil, divided

1/4 cup golden raisins, divided

½ cup dried cherries, soaked in warm water for 2 minutes, patted dry and divided

¼ cup cacao nibs

1/3 cup shredded coconut

3 tbs honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Process almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, cinnamon, ginger, 2 tbs of the coconut oil, ¼ cup of the cherries (patted dry), 2 tbs of the golden raisins in a food processor for about 1 minute. You want the nuts and the overall mixture to remain a little chunky, so I leave my food processor in the middle of the thin to thick scale. If you don’t have that on yours, stop every 20 seconds to see what the texture looks like. It should break down nicely, but should not be smooth. Scrape down the sides and process for another 30 seconds.

3. Add the last tablespoon of coconut oil, the other ¼ cup of cherries, ¼ cup of cacao nibs, the shredded coconut, 2 tbs of golden raisins and honey. Process until the mixture begins to clump together. It is done when you can press the mixture firmly and it sticks together.

4. I used an ice cream scooper (3/4oz) to scoop out these cookies. Fill the scoop and press down firmly. Gently release the mixture onto the parchment paper. I prefer not to press them firmly because I like the way they look when they aren’t perfect. I put 9 cookies per baking sheet.

5. Bake for 10 minutes. Let them cool down slightly and then enjoy!


Easy Chocolate Peppermint & Marshmallow Bark

peppermintbark6It’s that time of year, so I’m just rolling with it. Yes, I’m still eating my fruits and vegetables, but in the dessert department, I have kind of thrown caution to the wind. Because I don’t feel like depriving myself during this fun, jolly time of year. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, so my peppermint bark is just solid chocolate. There are only 3 ingredients and it comes together in no time. I highly recommend it for a holiday party or just to nibble at home in your pajamas. peppermintbark1peppermintbark2peppermintbark3There is something so satisfying about melting chocolate and swirling it around. And the peppermint candies and marshmallows make it feel so festive! peppermintbark4peppermintbark5You can box this up all pretty, put some ribbon on it, maybe a bow, and call it a day. Boom. Hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Chocolate Peppermint & Marshmallow Bark

Ingredients:

12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

20 round peppermint candies

1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Crush the peppermint candies any way you would like. I chopped mine with a sharp knife. Set aside.

3. Put chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds at a time and stir in between. I did 3 rounds of 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and then smooth out onto the parchment paper in a thin layer.

4. Sprinkle marshmallows and crushed peppermint candy on top of melted chocolate. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, break apart by hand and enjoy!

 


Roasted Garlic Dressing + Lentil Salad

garlic dressingJust to prove that I actually do eat salads at work in between the buttery scones and chocolate….

Most of the time I just put olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salads and call it a day. But I also see the benefit in making different salad dressings and not getting bored. This week I had a lot of leftover garlic, so I wanted to use it up before it went bad. I was also craving a healthy, crunchy and filling salad that day. garlic dressing2

Roasted Garlic Dressing + Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

2 whole heads of garlic, tops cut off to expose each clove

1/2 cup + a few teaspoons of olive oil, separated

salt & pepper

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup water

2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar

For the salad:

2 cups cooked lentils (I like to cheat and buy cooked lentils at Trader Joe’s)

1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets, chopped

1 cup raw shredded carrots

1/3 cup roasted garlic dressing + more depending on how heavily dressed you like it

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the cut tops of the garlic and rub it into each clove, keeping the whole head intact. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top and wrap each head in a piece of tinfoil, completely covering it. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool and pull out each clove with a fork or knife and set aside. Discard all the garlic skins.

2. In a blender put the water, 1/2 cup of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, pinch of salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar and all of the garlic cloves. Blend until creamy. About 30 seconds- 1 minute. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

3. If you want to make the salad, toss the lentils, broccoli and carrots in a large bowl with the dressing. I like to eat this salad as is or over a bed of mixed greens with a side of grilled bread :).


Hazelnut Fig & Chocolate Energy Balls

energy balls1Last week was crazy and fun. I took over the Popover Instagram for a few days and documented the process of getting ready to cater a screening party at work. My days were very demanding. I was on my feet most of the day, running to the grocery store multiple times a day and trying to calm myself down. I was nervous about how many people were supposed to show up for this party and scared it wouldn’t all come together. energy balls 2I find it extra difficult to eat healthy during these types of stressful situations and I reached for whatever was convenient and fast. Reflecting on last week, I wish I had a snack that was both filling and healthy and didn’t make me feel bad about eating it. So it might be a little late now, but I am so glad I have this recipe in my back pocket for the next catering week! energy balls3Thanks to all of my amazing co-workers, we were able to set everything up before people arrived and it looked beautiful (see below)! I feel so relieved to have this experience under my belt and so ready for more! energy balls 4

energy balls 5These energy balls are the perfect snack to have on hand and grab for a quick bite or on your way out the door. I hope these help you stay satisfied and on track with your health goals! Here is a picture from the catering event!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Hazelnut Fig & Chocolate Energy Balls

Makes 14-18 balls

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw hazelnuts

16 dried mission figs, stems removed and chopped (If they are really dry, soak them in hot water for a few minutes, drain and continue)

1 tbs + 1 tsp coconut oil

1 pinch sea salt

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbs honey

½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped.
  2. Add the figs, coconut oil, sea salt, shredded coconut, cocoa powder and honey. Process until the figs are broken down and the mixture begins to clump together. If you are using chocolate chips, add them now and pulse a few times to distribute.
  3. Take a small amount of the mixture and press between your fingers. If the mixture stays together, it is ready. If not, add a little bit more honey and mix. This is a crumbly mixture. Take a big spoonful and press firmly between your fingers and palm 4-5 times. Gently press it into the shape of a ball. DO NOT try to roll the mixture into the shape of a ball, it will fall apart. Continue this process until you use all of the mixture.
  4. Place the balls on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or put in freezer for 15 minutes if you’re too anxious to eat them like I was!

Work Lunches + Salad Inspiration

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWork has been hectic lately. I am lucky if I get to sit down by 2:30 p.m. and enjoy my food while sitting, instead of sneaking in bites in between baking for clients and cleaning up the kitchen. When I first started work as an in-house chef at a post-production company, my eating habits were completely thrown off. Every day I make breakfast between 8:30-11:00 and after that, I am either making lunches for clients, recipe testing (and tasting) or preparing for the afternoon of snack plates to be made.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSuddenly I was eating bites here and there all day long and I was no longer eating real meals or making the healthiest decisions. I don’t know about you, but once I start snacking or indulging, I find it extremely difficult to reign in control. A few months went by like this. I wasn’t feeling great and realized that I needed a little bit more structure in my life when it came to my eating habits at work. I decided regardless of what time, I needed to sit down to a healthy lunch. So my goal for the work day is to make a hearty salad that I will feel good about eating. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt is important to me to mix up the greens, the protein source and toppings so I don’t get bored. You’ll find some of my favorite combinations below!

Combinations:

#1: arugula, spinach, hard boiled egg, tuna, roasted herb potatoes, green beans, avocado, tomato & olives w/ lemon herb dressing

#2: kale, spinach, pan seared tofu, toasted almonds, shaved parmesan w/ lemon dressing and side of roasted baby broccoli and roasted potatoes

#3: arugula, swiss chard, pan seared salmon, goat cheese, tomato and olive w/ spicy mustard dressing