Crispy Kale “Chips”

Here is another recipe that we used in our food production lab (you would think my entire cooking life has centered around that lab, with all the recipes I have kept from it).

These are very easy to make and keep pretty well (at least for the day) so you can make them in the morning and then serve them at your party later in the afternoon or at night.

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With the holiday season officially starting (yesterday with Hanukkah, today with Thanksgiving, and soon Christmas, Kwanza, and the new year), I want to give myself and whoever reads this, a  simple reminder to cherish your traditions.

Each Thanksgiving, my family always adds something new to the table, whether its a new dessert or side dish or after-meal activity. And this year is no exception. But some things remain the same, and in the face of all the change our world sees, it is nice to see the beauty in those old traditions. Like having your uncle come over early to help fry the turkey. Or making your grandmother’s incredible, beloved noodle pudding even after she is gone (sorry, but that recipe is family-only). And we can’t forget that after-meal digestion session where family and friends catch up, your grandma makes comments about how your hair shouldn’t be dyed so dark, and sometimes fall asleep.

I think traditions are what brings and keeps families together. You can feel the love and  that accumulates through the years and share in the laughter at past stories. So even though we now have Black Friday shopping at 7pm Thanksgiving day (really…), remember that some things should be protected so we can stay connected with our roots. Happy Holidays!

Baked Apple with Crisp Topping

My entire food systems lab had been leading up to one thing – our special event. Each team in lab had to produce a dinner for 24 guests. Luckily for me, I had a fabulous team and our event went on without a hitch.

This was my favorite dish from the dinner, my group’s favorite dish, and 22 out of 24 guests’ favorite dish. With apples coming into season (at least in the U.S.), this dessert is perfect for making the most out of the seasonal fruit. The presentation is absolutely adorable and it is a great way to end a meal (especially if you add a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to it).

Another bonus, this recipe can be prepped a few hours in advance. The topping and the apple can be prepared and then assembled later before dessert is served or the apple can be cooked and then served 1-2 hours later; it all depends on your preference and schedule. However you want to do it, this dessert makes for a really easy addition to your holiday meal.

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

No matter the time of year, there is always something about ice cream that makes it delicious. Bonus points if it is home made. I have made this recipe a few times now and have always gotten very positive responses for it. The texture and flavor is reminiscent more of a custard than and ice cream, but when it tastes that good, who really cares about naming technicalities? Not this girl. Also, even though you can make this recipe without a thermometer to check the temperature of the mixture, I  recommend using one if you have it already. The vanilla bean can be substituted for 1 tablespoon vanilla extract; you will have a better vanilla taste using the vanilla bean.

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Eating the Best

Today I made black bean brownies and was really excited to try them, love them, and then add them to my recipe collection. As they were baking, the smell of chocolate goodness filled the air. They looked beautiful. But when I tried them, to my disappointment, they were just okay.

Now, I’m not saying that I won’t finish that batch of brownies. Nor am I saying that they were completely dissatisfying. But it is my opinion that if you are going to eat something, you might as well eat the best whenever possible. I had a conversation with my roommate the other day about how little a percentage of their dollar Americans spend on food, compared to other developed nations. It really blows my mind when people try to find the cheapest food out there, sacrificing one of the best actions we do all day.

Think about it; you essentially are what you eat. The components of your food breakdown and are absorbed into your body, used to fuel your cells, build muscle, and so much more. Before that process can begin, however, you have to eat. Humans are blessed with the capability to experience pleasure through food, to find joy in that beautiful bite that satisfies all your senses. Why would you waste that opportunity on something mediocre?

Of course, you can’t always eat the best because it may not be available or it is just out of your price range, which is fine. But if you have the means, I don’t think you should cheat yourself with what you eat. If one recipe does not yield the best brownies, you toss it and try another until you find the perfect one. You’ll know you’ve got it when you take a bite.

Roasted Salmon with Soy-Marmalade Glaze

I’m really becoming a fan of good salmon, and this recipe has had a lot to do with it. The beautiful combination of soy, garlic, and citrus come together to complement the taste of salmon- it covers it up just enough for you to forget that you’re eating a fishy fish, but you still get a good flavor of the protein. As a bonus, it takes less than half an hour from start to your mouth. I chose to serve it with a heap of green beans and a rosemary roll, but this recipe can be paired with many more options.

As a side note, when choosing fish fillets from the store, be very involved in your selection. The flesh should look firm and shouldn’t have an indent if a finger was pressed into it (this actually goes for all meats). It shouldn’t be dry, slimy, or off-color. If you can, ask to smell the fish. I know it sounds weird, but fresh fish should have a sea smell. If you smell fish, say thank you to the fish person and walk away. One time, I failed to ask to smell the fish, and I took home some mahi mahi that smelled like the fish you give to dolphins at SeaWorld. Clearly it had gone bad and I was unable to eat it. In the best scenario, you find a reputable fish monger and become best friends with them and trust that they won’t sell you bad fish. That’s just bad business. Now onto the recipe.

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Roasted Carrot and Beet Soup

I’ve been posting a lot of soup recipes lately, which shocks me. I’ve never been a big consumer or fan of soups and rarely made them on my own. But somehow, they have snuck up on me and here we are. Soups galore.

We made this recipe in my Food Systems class, testing it for a special event we have to put on. We got to use a robot coupe to chop all the vegetables, which was a wonderful experience, and it is now a machine that is going on my dream kitchen wish list. But back to the food; as we were tasting it, some people mentioned that the soup was very “beety.” I quite enjoyed the soup, so maybe beets are one of those foods you either love or hate. We had some trouble blending it past a puree, so more both may be necessary than what the recipe calls for. And like the Eggplant Romesco Rigatoni sauce, soups freeze equally as well and can be a lifesaver when you don’t feel like cooking or you have no time- they’re always there and ready to go.

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Eggplant Romesco Rigatoni

I am a huge fan of freezing things- especially soups and sauces. Because of their high moisture content, they reheat really well without drying out or changing texture.

While this recipe takes a relatively long time to make (for a sauce) you do end up with a lot of sauce, so if you are only cooking for one or two people, you’ll have enough sauce to freeze and use at a later time with a new batch of pasta. It’s a nice, meaty sauce (minus the meat!) and can easily fool picky eaters into eating more vegetables. After combining the sauce and the pasta, I like to add some mozzarella cheese and mix it in for a baked-ziti kind of dish.

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Spanish Potato and Spinach Tortilla with Red Pepper Sauce

Sometimes for breakfast, you need something more than just yogurt and granola. Because it has been getting colder, I’ve really enjoyed getting up a bit early and preparing a batch of nice, warm eggs. Really, eggs are the perfect protein and the yolks are a great source of vitamins.

This recipe offers the entire package: protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables! It was extremely easy and makes a nice presentation if you happen to have guests over. The red pepper sauce can be made the night before; just remember to serve it the next day!

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Fried Sunchoke Chips with Rosemary Salt

I was first exposed to sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes) through one of the nutrition newsletters I received and thought it looked like such a strange food. Last week, I was in Athens, Georgia and happened to find some when I visited a farmers’ market. Naturally, I had to buy them.

Funnily enough, Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes nor from Jerusalem. Englishmen could not pronounce the Italian name for them, so they called them Jerusalems and then added artichoke to the name because of the taste resemblance.

The sunchokes sliced easily and fried well. They had an unusual but very pleasant flavor. My friends ate them up within minutes.

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