Finding Time

There are things you think about doing and just never seem to find the time for... Some of those things will never materialize - but some will. Moments line up and pockets of time become available. This was one of those moments. I've thought about doing body scrubs and face moisturizers for years now. YEARS. In the midst of baking up a storm for an event I somehow managed to create a few sugar and salt scrubs that I really love. Essential oils, Coconut oil, Almond oil.... Apparently I love oils..... They smell divine and moisturize your skin beautifully. I didn't get around to mixing up my face oil - but soon. I just know a pocket of time will be mine to seize soon.....

Body Scrub - Salt of the Earth
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Smoothie Time

There are so many kinds of smoothies to make.... Here's something Duncan and I came up with for Wellness in the Schools. It's packed full of goodness!

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO!

RECIPE

  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 cup yogurt (dairy free if making vegan!)
  • 3/4 cup milk (regular, almond, hemp etc)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Joe Cross')
  • 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder

Blend all ingredients together! Adding some coconut oil & dates would be a nice option for additional sweetness and good fat. Bananas are always welcome too! Experiment with quantities of ingredients depending on the consistency you like to drink your smoothies at!

FUN FACTS

The cool thing about the Joe Cross protein powder is that it's pea based! This makes it a great choice for vegans and soy-free diets. 1 serving contains 16 grams of protein. It's also a great powder to mix into any juice (it's made to mix easily!) and has a nice neutral flavor.

Chia seeds are a super food that have gained popularity recently. You'll see it in drinks and puddings on the grocery shelves. They are the tiny black seeds from the Salvia Hispanica plant which is related to the mint plant. Chia is the Mayan word for "strength" and chia seeds are used for sustained energy. They are also packed full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein!

Raw Cacao comes from the seed of the cacao tree. Yes, it's where chocolate comes from - but this form is minimally processed and not laden with any sugar etc. It's different than buying 'cocoa powder'. Cocoa powder undergoes higher temperatures at processing therefore loosing some of it's benefits. Raw cacao is thought to be the highest source of antioxidants and magnesium of all foods. It's nutrient rich and high in fiber. AND it tastes delicious!

 

 

 

VEGAN Fudge Brownies

These are good, damn good. Not for the faint of heart, only true chocolate lovers need apply. It had been a while since I made a batch of these. Back in my Heaven shop days these were a staple. They had a dedicated following and even got some press! I was proud. Time passed and I forgot about them. But like many good things in life they may lie dormant for a while but sooner or later they'll re-surface and it will be just the right time.

When I decided to make these a few weeks ago for an order, my friend was skeptical. Vegan Brownies? Nah- sounds boring. I pushed ahead and made them anyway. Lo and behold when he tasted them he couldn't stop singing their praises. Sweet victory.

We bake to forget the noise of the world. We bake to bring happiness to others. When someone eats something I've made and it brings a smile to their face - I know I've done my job. I want more smiles in the world. A smile for a smile. A brownie for a smile? For the greater good of the world - I'll just keep making brownies. Try it.

Vegan Fudge Brownies

yield: 1/2 sheet pan cut into about 36 squares

  • 1 pound Vegan Butter (I use soy free earth balance)
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
  • 1 cup Water, hot
  • 4 Tblsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder
  • 2 Tblsp Espresso Powder
  • 2 ea Espresso, shots
  • 3 cups Flour, All-Purpose
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3 cups Chocolate Chips
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Oven at 350. This is a large recipe that I bake in a 1/2 sheet pan. If you don't have this kind of pan you can  cut the recipe in half and bake in a regular brownie pan. But trust me - you'll like to have these on hand and they keep well. Melt the vegan butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and whisk. Heat until bubbling, about 1 minute. Put this mixture into a mixing bowl (I use a kitchen aid with a paddle attachment) Add cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla - mix well. In a separate bowl whisk together the hot water and egg replacer powder. Add slowly to chocolate mixture - beat until smooth. Add Espresso shots. Add espresso powder and flour - mix. Add chocolate chips and mix to combine. Batter will be thick. Put in sprayed / oiled pan making sure to evenly spread and smooth top. Be careful not to overbake. It will depend on the pan you use how long it should bake. About 15 minutes. Watch the edges! These definitely don't bake for 30 minutes! Remove from oven and let cool. I like to put it in the refrigerator overnight and then cut into squares. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. ENJOY!

Strawberry Ice Cream

When I worked at Restaurant Daniel I was in charge of the Ice Cream station. This meant I made and churned all the ice creams - and got to taste them all straight from the machine. If you're an ice cream lover (like me) and have never had fresh ice cream straight from the machine you are truly missing out. So simple, So divine. It's really pretty easy to make your own batch - and you can make exactly what you want flavor-wise. I whipped up a batch of Strawberry after asking my son what kind we should make. Now strawberry is certainly not my favorite flavor. I'd order Vanilla over Strawberry.  I also would've liked to put some other things in it - maybe coconut or balsamic? - but being the good natured Mother that I am I gave him his simple Strawberry. And really - his praise after trying it made me thankful I didn't try to sneak anything else in. No - this isn't Vegan... I'll work on that recipe next... I am, after all, a classically trained Pastry Chef! Went back to my roots on this one!

Strawberry Ice Cream

  • 11 ounces Strawberries
  • 1 Tblsp Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tblsp Sugar
  • 4 ea Egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 ea Vanilla Bean, cut and scraped
  • 1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups Half and Half
  • dash Salt
  • dash Cake Spice *
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In a bowl toss strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.

In another bowl whisk together egg yolks, sugar and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. In a saucepan put the rest of the heavy cream, half and half, salt, cake spice and vanilla bean over medium heat.  Bring almost to a boil. ‘Temper’ the hot cream mixture with the egg mixture by adding some of the hot cream to the eggs while whisking. Add egg mixture to saucepan and slowly heat while using a rubber spatula. You are making an anglaise here (which is delicious on it’s own!) and want to be careful not to over cook and ‘scramble’ the eggs. Stir well and use this trick to tell if it’s done: lift rubber spatula out of pot and draw a line across it with your finger – the mixture should be thick and hold the line. Pour into a bowl and chill.

Puree strawberry mixture in a blender. Add anglaise to your ice cream maker and turn on. My machine has a little window to pour extra ingredients into – so I poured the strawberry puree once it started processing.

*from Penzey's : cinnamon, star anise, allspice, ginger, cloves

Chocolate Cake

It was supposed to be a blizzard. It wasn't. It WAS National Chocolate Cake day though. Thanks to The Lions for tipping me off. I don't know who comes up with these things - but I like any excuse to whip up a cake. I'm always looking for new ways to make things. Don't get me wrong - I like tried and true, but there's something that thrills me and makes me feel like a magician of sorts when I'm in the kitchen combining ingredients. I found this beautiful bottle of molasses in my cabinet - I've always been a fan of molasses - but I've never used it exclusively as a sweetener in a dessert. It's so dark and beautiful and a touch mysterious. So with that in mind I went ahead and decided it would play a starring role. Measure, mix, pour, bake. It all goes in the pan and then we wait. I was worried at first bite it was too much. Too strong - but then I found myself taking another bite - and another bite. I like this cake. It's distinctive flavor separates it from other chocolate cakes. It has an edge - and a certain mysteriousness (yes, there's that word again!). It may not be for everyone - and that's ok - as time goes on we come to understand that we can't please everyone.

Molasses Chocolate Cake gluten free and vegan yield: 1 - 8x8 pan

  • 1/2 cup Chickpea Flour
  • 1/4 cup Potato Starch
  • 1/3 cup Arrowroot
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seed, golden, ground
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seed
  • 1/2 cup Cacao Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • dash Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp Cake Spice *
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tblsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Oil (Olive, Coconut, Vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup Apple Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

Oven at 350. Grease and line with parchment your 8x8 pan Whisk together all dry ingredients. Whisk together all wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and combine well. Add chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan and bake about 25 minutes.

When cool flip the cake out of pan. I finished by sprinkling shredded coconut and drizzling with a simple raw cacao icing (raw cacao & almond milk) and coconut milk icing (coconut milk and powdered sugar)

*penzeys spice blend: cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves       Penzeys is a great spice company that I love ordering from. They have numerous blends that are a fast & easy way to pump up the flavor in anything your cooking.

Potato Leek Soup

I meant to make the Sunflower Pate - but that didn't happen. Do you ever find yourself walking down the produce isle and grabbing things instinctively with no apparent reason? Well, that's what happened to me. Maybe I was thrown off because the store was packed with blizzard preppers - or maybe I was divinely guided to those leeks. Growing up my Mom always had packs of potato leek soup on hand. Knorr - the yellow and green pack - a flash of nostalgia and comfort in a cup. Texture, Taste, Color. I see her in her pink and purple robes. Intense 80's makeup.

So I find myself chopping and throwing things in the pot. I've never made potato leek soup from scratch. Would it add up? Ginger, celery and a dash of turmeric. I've accepted that pretty much everything I make is bold and slightly Indian in persuasion. I clean the leeks really well - because who wants sand in their soup? The smell of sauteing onions and leeks fills the house. That old 50's house wife trick - sauteing onions before their husbands got home from work to make them think they'd been hard at work in the kitchen. It works for me. I'm in the zone of chop - dash - stir. A trance of actions that leads me to my destination. It's not a chosen destination - it's a moment by moment unraveling.

It worked. I got that bliss in a bowl.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

  • 4 Tblsp Olive Oil
  • 2 ea Leeks
  • 2 ea Celery stalks
  • 1 ea Onion, medium
  • about 4 cups Water
  • 6 ea Red Potatoes, small, diced
  • 4 ea Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2" Ginger, fresh, chopped
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp French Four Spice (white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)
  • 1 tsp Pepper, fresh cracked
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

4qt pot

Clean leeks well. Chop leeks, onion and celery. Don't worry about them all being perfect or a specific size - you're going to be pureeing them! Heat oil in pot - add chopped leeks, celery, onion. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add water, diced potatoes, garlic, ginger and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Puree with a hand blender or in a blender. Serve with a scoop of greek yogurt, fresh pepper and grated cheese. (dayia cheese if vegan!)

The Granola Bar

I love granola bars. It's really the perfect food. Kind of like a banana except that a banana can get smushed too easily in your bag. Ready at a moments notice when you're hungry and there's no good food around or you just don't feel like stopping to get some. There it is. Waiting for you in your bag. The granola bar. A great thing for kids too. As a Mom it feels like your doing some worldly good deed when you feed your kids good food. That it will somehow prevent them from having a melt down and fill them with the important nutrition needed to face the world. Assuming that it's not filled with sugar, which most of them are, because then you will be doing yourself and the world a great disservice and laying the tracks for a meltdown that most certainly will happen in the near future.

So my epiphany came to create just such a bar from a recipe I used to do at Heaven. The fruit and nut bar... but how about if I added some Kale and then dipped it in chocolate? I know, the chocolate has sugar in it... but maybe I can get around that too....

I've done dozens of recipes at this point - perfecting just the right balance of sweet and healthy. We're all looking for that 'treat'. A small indulgence - especially when you're on a 10 day cleanse or when you're having a long day of battle of the wills with your toddler.... So with those two thoughts in mind last night I came up a raw cacao kale bar! It may sound intimidating or unappetizing - but let me tell you - I basically made a brownie that happens to be healthy.... SERIOUSLY! I fed them to a group of cleansers this morning and it was all rave reviews (maybe they were just grateful to have something other than steamed veggies and salad). But then I fed them to my 3 1/2 year old son this evening  and he wanted more, more, more, more (as he likes to say...).  So I'm happy. I've managed to sneak greens into his diet AND have a delicious treat to eat. I've also managed to finish this post - The first part I wrote over a year ago. My how time flies.

Now I don't have to go through the effort of coating it in chocolate - it's already in the bar. And we can continue to love our fruit and nut bars just as they are and I can stop caring that Duncan doesn't like them.  

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And did I mention that all the bars are gluten free, vegan and maple sweetened? Bonus. 

Easter

Why is easter about colored eggs? Why are all holidays about food? Comfort. Gathering. Community. Some greater purpose. Calling family. Well Wishes. My mom says she's trying to stay calm. Holidays freak her out and put pressure on an already fragile composition of nerves. So she goes on a 7 minute rant about the immediate stress in her life and wishing people would die. Sounds morose, I know. But that's what happens. Total honesty. On the raw leading edge where no filters exist. I juggle it with a grain of salt and go back to my beautiful blue eyed son who is staring at me through the most angelic eyes. Holidays are about the kids. That's what everyone I called tells me today. People who's kids are all grown and they are living on their own now. You can hear it in their voices - missing that carefree happiness that engulfs the little ones that so often leaves the grown-ups. But back to the food. Any excuse to make a meal - make a cake - make a moment in time stand still. A mushroom omelet with jalepeno cheese. Home fries. Baguette slathered in fig jam. Strong french press coffee. A perfect meal. I'll settle for store bought Easter candy for dessert - no time to make a cake these days. There's something nostalgic and fulfilling about York peppermint patties and Reese's peanut butter cups.

Happy Easter.

for the love of cooking

Cooking is therapy. There's no way around it for me. Start chopping and spicing and concocting a dish and you find your way home. I'm standing in the kitchen. Staring into the fridge. What do I have. What do I want. What lines up. It's a game I like to play. Make it come together with what's in front of you. If you think too hard you'll miss the point. People (who obviously don't know me) like to talk and contemplate the extent of my mental state. The post-holiday musings post was too real. But what's life without the truth? You can't have the highs without the lows. You know this. How can anyone dare to ask, undirectly, what's in someones mind. If you want to know you'll have to go to the source. That post wasn't meant to be scary or dark. (You should have seen the first few drafts I tried to write - that was scary and dark). It was meant to be real. Truth. And it's a public forum - so open to debate and crticism - but it's also exactly that - open, honest musings. Do we take everything too literal? Maybe so. But don't ever guess and think to know what's really in someones mind.

So, I'm back to cooking. And baking. In stride. I like to make the people around me as happy as I can. And gifting cookies and dinners always seems to please. It's from the heart. It has a little bit of me in it. And the act of doing it works out the kinks in my mind. As we all have an overactive mind that goes down dark corridors and pathways trying to make sense of what's happening around us. I chant into my food. I immerse myself in flavor combinations. I become one with what's in front of me. I truly loose track of time in the most beautiful way. Everyone should be so lucky to find something like this in their lives. And I give the gift of food to my son and my friends around me hoping that they can taste this in every bite and know that all is right in the world.

Cookies.

I've got cookies on the brain. So simple. So good. So versatile. Endless combinations of ingredients - though I must say the basic chocolate chip cookie is still my favorite. It's like wrapping your favorite blanket around yourself - a moment where all is right in the world and nothing can change the pure simplistic goodness that envelopes my being. I'm walking down the street - chocolate chip cookie in hand - and with every bite I take all my temporary problems of perceived confusion melt away. I get more pep in my step and whatever I was thinking about before this cookie is magically solved and transformed. At least for the moment. Yes, the power of the cookie. I see it in my son too. The two year old temper tantrum? Tell him you have a cookie. He may just change his mind about kicking and screaming for no apparent reason. I know, it's bribery starting at a young age. But hey, sometimes we just need some positive motivation.

And here's the other thing about the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe - you can come at it like a chef and depending on your mood throw in different ingredients. My friend asked me to whip up a batch of cookies for him the other day and I threw in cocoa powder, cinnamon, walnuts and cayenne pepper. Bliss. I know that takes them to the level of a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie. But my point is to experiment and take the plunge. If it goes terribly wrong you can always grind them up and use it as a crust for something else. Add more butter and layer it in a cheesecake. The possibilities are endless. It mirrors life in that way. It's all in your hands. Create your own perfection.

I grabbed an oatmeal raisin cookie the other day. Perfect balance of crisp butter crunch and soft chewy raisins. It was definitely an oatmeal raisin kind of day. Chocolate chip would have been too intense. It was morning. The first thing I ate. There's a cookie for every mood. Figure out your mood through a cookie. Stir the batter, scoop it out, bake it in the oven and ENJOY. That's what life is about, no?

 

post-holiday musings

You can't push passion. Or artistic inspiration. It just happens and takes over. Something that you want to do, think you should do, have a passion to do. It's a fickle thing. Driven by emotion and a balance of making yourself do something and wanting to do something. My head is in the clouds. Refuses to come down to earth. And I know it's a plan of self-preservation. Coming to the earth plane means submerging myself in anxiety and darkness. At least right now. You can force positive thinking on yourself and wrap yourself in a layer of affirmations. Fake it till you make it. Look for the positive in every problem. But sometimes you just need to stare reality in it's face and calmly look at it. Begging it to transform into something else is futile. Attempts at metamorphosis are best left to Kafka. I'm still here. Standing in the muck and mire. And also so thankful for all that garbage thrown onto my path. It makes me stronger, no?

A night.

I'm playing catch up.... Time rolls on and things I've meant to do don't get done until they seem irrelevant and I think about not doing them at all.But I have some fun pics from this night and I figured why the hell not. It was September 11th and it was beautiful. I got to wear an amazing Chanel dress, eat delicious food and laugh with some fun people. My favorite comment of the night came from the person seated next to me - Waiter: "Would you like some bread?" Guest: "Oh no, it doesn't go with my outfit!" Ah, Fashion....

Thanks to my super amazing friend Ali Kavoussi. It was for Muse Magazine hosted                                                                       by Marina Abramovic at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*some photos here are from Billy Farrell Agency