Monthly Archives:

September 2013

Prevention RD’s Lightened-Up Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

There are a few bloggers I’ve been following since the near beginning of my own blogging path. Prevention RD is one of them.

I’ve watched Nicole’s photography grow into art, her fan following progress, and her pouty dog Lily grow cuter by the minute. Her site has always been fun to follow, and a countless source of inspiration for my own recipe development.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Prevention RD turn into a published cookbook author. I can’t describe this as anything other than awesome. I love, love, love seeing fellow food bloggers use their site as a platform to kill it in arenas outside of the blogging world. Congrats girl!

Apple Crisp

Nicole’s style is what I consider comparable to Cooking Light mag.  Many of her recipes involve transforming traditional dishes into lighter and healthier versions, including classic comfort foods too. Sometimes she crafts these recipes herself, like those within her cookbook. Other times she gathers and adapts them from other blogger’s sites. Regardless, Nicole has a knack for choosing recipes that lend themselves well to a wide audience.

I remember when Nicole went through a baked doughnut phase. I don’t even like doughnuts, but I admit she nearly convinced me to go out and purchase a doughnut pan. I mean, wouldn’t you be curious to try ones with a Blueberry Lemon Glaze? Or a Whole Wheat Banana Doughnut with a Banana Chocolate Glaze? Perhaps that’s why I don’t like doughnuts. Because few places sell any variations similar to those.

Anyway, I was thrilled to receive Nicole’s cookbook, and to see her jump into print. There’s nothing like flipping through hands-on pages filled with food photo after food photo.

Currently I’m eyeing her version of Baked Falafel, but the first recipe I decided to whip up was her Lightened-Up Apple Crisp. In my own book, apple crisp is an indispensable part of fall. You simply can’t let the season pass without baking a batch. Or two. Or three. To do so would be a near atrocity.

I didn’t want to waste much time. A week into fall, apple crisp was coming from my oven. This leaves a few months left to continue making more. Thanks for the season’s first recipe, Nicole!

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Vegan Beet Almond Pesto

Vegan Beet Almond Pesto

I’ve never utilized beets as much as I have in this past year. I told you in my last recipe post, beets and I have this whole love-hate relationship going on. And it’s not just a consequence of their stain power.

Their taste is simply not something I crave, at least in large doses. I do enjoy a few roasted beets now and then, and a little grated raw on top of my salads. I find though that a little goes a long way.

What I like most about beets is their color. And here, too, a little goes a long way. (Hello gorgeous pink tabbouleh!) Just one beet was needed to create that vibrant bowl above.

Basil

I make a ton of pesto in the summer, both to eat and to freeze. It’s always so beautiful while spinning away in the food processor. And smells so good, too.

Slow it down, however, and it’ll undress itself from its vibrant green outfit faster than you can get it into a bowl. The air cuts right to the chase. Brownish or not, it still tastes great, but I always find it to be a slightly disappointing sight.

With many recent beet successes, I decided to keep running with the ingredient. Slowly, I’m discovering, perhaps I do love beets after all. How can you not love the site of that pesto up above? Rather than swapping out the basil, I simply added a beet to a variation of my traditional vegan pesto recipe. It by no means becomes the main flavor dominator in this pesto. It will, however, add a small hint of sweet earthiness, and a large dose of stunning, disappointment-free color.

The following makes enough for just over 1 box of pasta. I like to always have a little extra to store in the fridge for sandwich spreads and other various uses.

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A Visit to Vermont – for the farmers and the healthy foodies

Drying room at Stone Barns Center

To be interested in food and not food production is clearly absurd. – Wendell Berry

And so began a trip to visit farm after farm in Vermont.

My boyfriend and I became so excited about farm voyaging that our first stop to one actually occurred before ever exiting New York. The farm – Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills – was one that would set a precedent for the remainder of the trip. Gorgeous, gorgeous pesticide-free produce grown amidst picturesque backdrops.

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Stone Barns is an 80-acre operation dedicated to creating a sustainable food system through testing and utilizing farming methods that support this. It is a learning center for farmers, children and people from all over the world, and acts as an inspirational destination to connect people to the land that grows their food.

Yellow Ginger at Stone Barns

Take a stroll around and you’ll find ingredients of all kinds. For all four seasons throughout the year.

Greens at Stone Barns

In early fall, that means greens on greens on greens. Walking through the field above felt like walking through one of a Vitamix’s dreams. Endless green smoothies of all different leaves. Not a bad feeling.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

The farm is connected with renowned restaurant Blue Hill, known for elegant and innovative, multi-course feasts inspired by seasonal produce. It’s seated guests like Barack Obama and his lovely date Michelle, and was rated by Food & Wine as one of the world’s top 10 life changing restaurants. The decor was beautiful, and while I didn’t get a chance to dine there, I can only imagine what comes out of the kitchen.

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

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Pickled Spiced Beets

Pickled Beets

Beets and I have a love-hate relationship.

Love when they add a hint of sweetness to my bitter arugula and goat cheese. Hate when they turn my t-shirt from pretty-in-white to pajama-only appropriate.

Love when they transform my tabbouleh into a beautiful party in pink. Hate when they permanently make my cutting boards appear as though I have a serious wine addiction.

Love when roasted. Hate when boiled.

Love when pickled. Hate when that pickling includes hard-boiled eggs.

Pickled Beets

I could go on, but I’ll save you and get straight to the point. One more love profession first though, which is for this pickled beet recipe. I assure you it’s worth every bit of stain and messiness inevitably involved in its preparation. The recipe comes from Saving the Seasons, a book given to me by my farm family when I started mentioning a desire to start canning. I must’ve been dreaming big because not one tomato, peach or beet for that matter ever made it to the canner. I actually somehow did manage to get a canner to my house this summer. It sits untouched on my living room floor…

Pickled Beets

I didn’t let the mason jars that came with it go to waste though. A few of them got filled up with these beets, a refrigerator staple you can munch on for a couple weeks after preparing — canned or not. These make for a great salad topper of all kinds. From lettuce to grains, they’re simply born for salads.

Pickled Beets

If you do decide to finish out the recipe and actually put the beets through the boiling process, they’ll last much longer. It’s one of those dream big ideas I still plan on carrying out before my beet supply runs short. We’ll see. That part of the recipe’s up to you.

P.S. I’ll be in Vermont for the next week! Expect a possible delay in blogging while I eat nothing but maple syrup for a few.

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Roasted Garlic Basil Pepper Poppers

Mini Sweet Peppers

Every Saturday, I get to talk food.  I get to share recipes, discuss veggies and sell people healthy food. It’s great. I’m totally in my element, which makes waking up on Saturdays to work feel almost like a treat. (The Honeycrisps snatched for breakfast helps those mornings out too. As does the coffee from the nearby train station cafe. — Shout out to Elcy’s for being adorable.)

As I’ve said in recent posts, I’ve been helping a family with their weekend farmer’s market. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, this is the same family I used to spend summers with as a full-time “farmer” throughout school. The same family that taught me how toss watermelons around like basketballs, ventilate a high tunnel, and run an entire CSA operation. Reflecting on it now, I had no idea at the time what a life experience that was. It’s not everyday a girl learns how to drive a tractor. After moving to the city — where farming is  romanticized — I realized that was a pretty bad ass time in my life.

Since the move to the city streets and pavement, since becoming a recipe developer / journalist / food writer, among other things, I’ve come full circle. Once again, I’m working with both vegetables and a family that loves having me there. It’s a return I wouldn’t have foresaw, but a circle I’m happy to complete. It’s also such a nice feeling lending a hand to people who really value you being there. Life has taught me that.

And I have to say, I’m pretty sure I’m their best salesman. That’s not too vain, right?

I know how to talk Red Russian kale vs. Lacinato kale, white eggplant vs. regular, pie apples vs. eating apples, etc. etc. better than any of them when it comes to cooking. Which is why when a customer comes up to the stand and inquires about anything to do with taste/flavor, they get directed straight to me. We toss around recipe ideas, eating and storage suggestions. And then I send the customers home after they’ve bought a few extra pounds of produce. And vitamins and yumminess. Boom.

Farmer's market produce

People will often swing by and tell me what they’re cooking, which I absolutely love for inspiration. One Saturday, these mini sweet peppers were the topic of discussion. A man was telling me how he liked to stuff them with cheese and pop them in the oven. Brilliant.

The little peppers are gorgeous in themselves, so I love the idea of serving them whole. I started thinking how I could do a vegan variation of my customer’s idea, and so home I went to try experimenting on my own. Naturally, I turned to garlic, a favorite ingredient of mine. The first time around, I added cilantro too, which was a success, and then the next time, basil, which would land a spot on my blog. Both herbs work well. If you’re a cilantro fan, I’d say go with that, along with a few dashes of chili powder to season the peppers. Basil is also nice though, and would lend itself well if you decide to bring cheese back to the equation. A simple appetizer at its best.

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