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A Pie Class with Joy the Baker: Pics, Tips, and Memories

28 Oct

I started Figs in My Belly in June, 2009. At that point in my life, I was living in California, getting a degree in Nutritional Science, staging (interning) in the kitchen at a small handful of restaurants, working at a cooking camp for kids, and making dinners for my housemates at the co-op where I lived. Oh, and I was totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

That August, I heard about a rooftop picnic in downtown Los Angeles that Joy was hosting and jumped on the opportunity. I brought my mom along and we spent the afternoon enjoying Joy’s biscuits, fried chicken, coleslaw, and cupcakes while mingling with other Joy the Baker fans.

Cut to more than five years later, and I now live in New York City with a short (four-year-long) pastry cook career currently on pause while I finish up a graduate degree in Nutrition Education and a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. And, as you might have guessed, I am still totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

Joy is currently on tour for her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I attended her book signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and the following weekend, my friend Michelle and I drove up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, where Joy was teaching a hands-on pie making class. Joy taught two four-hour pie classes on the same day. She is a warrior.

I’ve made my share of pies in the past, but pie still intimidates me, and I wanted to gain some pro tips to boost my pie confidence. Plus, my friend Michelle never made her own pie before, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn. We road tripped for pie! Continue reading

Finding the Right Ratio: Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

1 Oct

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I publicly announced my dabbling with chia pudding over the summer. Even though I adore chia seeds sprinkled in smoothies and oatmeal and baked goods, for a long time, I could not bring myself to adore chia pudding. Finally, after gleaning through what seemed like a zillion different variations on chia pudding and nixing the few not-so-great combos I tested at home, I found my go-to ratio that I truly do adore:

2 tablespoons chia seeds to 2/3 cup yogurt-water mix (a heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + a scant 1/3 cup water)

I think the yogurt is really key. The thickness of the Greek yogurt provides a nice consistency, and the water loosens things ever so slightly. Mix everything in a jar the night before. The next morning, spoon the mixture into a bowl (or keep in the jar for an on-the-go breakfast) and add toppings! Coconut chips, granola, fruit, and nut butter are my go-to’s.

The berries in the picture above were frozen and I heated them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I toss the berries in when they are still frozen. Different strokes.

Last month, I attended an acai bowl class at Sweetgreen taught by Ksenia of Breakfast Criminals. Her class inspired me to start “decorating” my breakfast, and I definitely feel more excited about eating when my bowl/plate looks colorful and pretty.

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I have been eating variations of my Basic Chia-Yogurt mix for the last month, at least two or three times a week, so I can now say that this ratio has been well-tested and given my seal of approval.

Sometimes I use a mix of chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds instead of plain chia seeds. Change it up. Use the Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix as your starting ratio, then add in whatever looks good.

Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

serves 1

The night before, mix together in a jar:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 

scant (aka slightly less than) 1/3 cup water

Stir, let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir again and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, either keep the chia-yogurt mix in the jar, or pour it out into a bowl. Sprinkle in your favorite fruity/crunchy/creamy toppings. I like a sprinkle of each of the following:

granola // coconut chips // fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried) // nut butter 

Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

6 Sep

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She’s a beaut, right?

Obviously I could not resist lugging home a head each of orange and purple cauliflower on top of my already heavy farmer’s market haul of melon, tomatoes, summer squash, eggs, and my newest obsession, maple cream!

I am such a sucker for roasted cauliflower. I love how it gets those golden-brown roasted marks, and packs a salty, slightly oily bite. But, it is important to try new things, and there is SO much happening with cauliflower these days.

I thought about making a purple cauliflower soup or a cauliflower gratin, but, desperate to hang on to the summer, I was not yet ready to dive into those cozier, creamier fall foods. After tossing around ideas of the ever-trendy cauliflower rice/couscous, cauliflower pizza crust, and cauliflower pasta sauce, I turned to my trusty food maven, Deb Perelman, who has a recipe in her cookbook for…CAULIFLOWER PESTO.

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Cauliflower pesto is made with raw cauliflower pulsed in a food processor (I took the Italian grandmother way/the hard route and hand-chopped/used my blender) and combined with a separate pulsed mix of brine-y, pesto-y ingredients: capers, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs. Continue reading

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

2 Jul

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Well I finally gave green smoothies a whirl at home, and…they’re great!

I first started adding just a small handful of baby spinach into a smoothie, but now I’ve expanded to kale and purslane.

A few weeks ago, I got a deal at the farmer’s market: two huge bundles of greens for $5. I bought collards and kale. I cooked the collards, and used some of the kale for salads.  I washed, de-stemmed and tore the remaining kale leaves into pieces and stuck them in a ziplock bag in my freezer (my friend Brianna gave me that genius tip!). Now I have a cold green leafy veggie in my freezer for when the smoothie pangs hit (I would imagine that frozen kale is easy to toss into a soup or pasta recipe, too).

Having frozen smoothie ingredients on hand  (i.e. chopped kale, chopped banana, frozen fruit) is key to keeping things cold. Sometimes I add ice at the very end to get the smoothie extra cold, but it is not always necessary.

If you are wary of the greens, don’t worry because you can’t taste them, especially if you use strong fruits like banana or mango and a nut butter like peanut or almond. The greens just make the smoothie turn, well, green.

Tip: blend the greens with the liquid first. Get it really nice and blended before adding in the remaining fruits and accouterment. This helps decrease the leafiness of the greens. I just use a regular blender.

A half portion of this smoothie fills me up in the morning when I drink it with coffee. I also make the full serving for a light lunch before a workout. Experiment with different greens and fruits and add-ins like chia seeds. Have fun, stay cool, and drink up!

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

Makes 1 large portion, or 2 small snack-size portions

1 cup of greens (I used 3/4 cup frozen kale and 1/4 cup fresh purslane)

1 cup liquid (I used 3/4 cup low-fat milk and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)

1 heaping cup of fruit (I used about 1 cup frozen banana pieces and 1 poached fig)

1 heaping tablespoon nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter, but almond butter is great in smoothies, too)

optional: Ice

optional: a sprinkle of chia seeds (I didn’t use any in this smoothie because purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids)

Blend the greens and the liquid in the blender. Get it nice and blended, may take 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the fruit and the nut/seed butter and the chia seeds (if using). Blend again to incorporate. If you want the smoothie extra cold, add in a few ice cubes and blend again. You can top the smoothie with extra chia seeds if you like.

 NOTE: The full recipe, if you use nut butter, could add up to 350-400 calories, making this smoothie more of a mini meal than a snack. 

Homemade Snack: The Weelicious Chewy Granola Balls

8 Apr

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This is my second time making the Weelicious rice crispy balls, granola ball bites, whatever you call ’em.

After watching her adorable videos 1 and 2, I ran out to the store to buy brown rice cereal, but I spaced out and bought puffed rice instead of crispy rice. The recipe still works with puffed rice, but the texture is not as, well, crisp, without the crispy rice cereal.

I had a jar of brown rice syrup sitting in my pantry for over 2 years and never knew what to do with it until I saw these recipes. Brown rice syrup is slightly less sweet than regular sugar, and it’s great for n0-bake recipes like this because the syrup is so sticky it acts like glue. When melted together with nut butter, I wanted to lick the hot pot it smelled so good.

Add-ins are endless, but I love the combo of some dried fruit and chocolate chips. How could you not?

Balls (insert dirty joke) are indeed cuter and more fun to eat than bars. Sometimes I will just eat one after lunch to satisfy that post-meal sweet craving. Other times I pack 3-4 with me and enjoy them for a mid-day snack. Up to you.

The recipe makes about 25-30 balls (depending how much you eat in the process!). I stored about half of the bites in the fridge because they are a little crispier when cold, and I froze the other half  batch for later.

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 A Random Assortment: Granola Balls, PS4 Controller, Mattress, Bikes

The Weelicious Chewy Granola Balls

adapted from Weelicious

makes about 30 balls

1/2 cup nut and/or seed butter (I used a combo of sunbutter and cashew butter)

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1 1/2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (I didn’t have any, so I used puffed rice…works fine but crispy would be better for texture)

1 cup granola (any kind you have, but I used Hot Bread Kitchen Granola)

1/4 cup dried fruit (i.e. cranberries, raisins, blueberries, chopped apricots…) and/or chocolate chips

1. Place the nut/seed butter and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan over low to medium heat and warm for 2 minutes or until it becomes smooth and combined.

2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

3. Pour the warm nut/seed butter mixture into the bowl with the granola mixture and stir to combine.

4. Roll into 1 inch balls (you can use a mini ice cream scooper to scoop out each portion, or a tablespoon). Alternatively, you could press the mixture into a square pan, let cool, and slice into bars.

Happy snacking!