SUPERFOOD GREEK YOGURT

Lately, I’ve been indulging (read: overloading) in “superfoods.” Lord knows what that means. Superfoods are multi-tasking disease fighting foods that have a very high level of antioxidants (they fight free radicals lurking in your bod that cause damage resulting in premature aging and chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and cancer to name a few). But this is not one-goji-berry-fits-all type of panacea: In order to get the most out of superfoods, you must eat a variety of them from a wide range of sources. But you knew I was going to say that right? Because just eating ONE type of superfood would be too easy. Popular superfoods include berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.), dark leafy greens like KALE and my new favorites I am adding to my breakfasts: goji berries + cacao nibs.

NOTE: Cacao nibs are chocolate. BUT, they are not the chocolate you think they are. Sorry to crush your hopes and dreams, but if you think you are sprinkling a crumbled chocolate bar onto your cereal, smoothies, bowls, etc., you are going to be really disappointed. But now that the fantasy is over, let’s learn why you SHOULD eat them. Personally, I love the crunch they add to my Greek yogurt in the mornings (I am a crunch addict – please get that box of cereal, granola, whatever away from me. Thank you Cap’n) and the deep, full-bodied flavor is reminiscent of a good cup of coffee. They’ve got lots of magnesium and dietary fiber. The toasted almonds in my Superfood Greek Yogurt recipe also bump up the crunch factor while rounding out Greek yogurt’s tang with a nice nutty, aromatic flavor. And protein and good fats, duh.

Let’s talk about goji berries. Truthfully, I started eating them because Miranda Kerr does it. And there is nothing I won’t do that Miranda Kerr does (haha, just kidding, not really). They’re naturally sweet, chewy and have a tinge of a bitter after taste that doesn’t bother me one bit.  Loaded with beta-carotene, goji berries also just make your morning breakfast that much prettier, and admit it, don’t you want to eat pretty?

If you are what you eat, then I would eat Miranda Kerr if I could get my hands on her.

SUPERFOOD GREEK YOGURT

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 TBS cacao nibs
  • 1 TBS goji berries
  • 1 TBS toasted chopped almonds

Directions

  1. Scoop Greek yogurt into a bowl. Combine with remaining ingredients and serve immediately or make it look pretty and take food shots of it for your Instagram.

PORCINI THYME MILLET WITH FRIED EGG

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I love trolling the Internet for new recipes. I hate having to scroll through a million photos of food at slightly different angles and nonsensical text in blog posts to actually get to the recipe itself.

Here is the recipe.

PORCINI THYME MILLET WITH FRIED EGG

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry hulled millet
  • 5 cloves peeled minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl filled with 2 cups hot water; set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain mushrooms through a fine sieve, reserving the mushroom water; pat mushrooms dry and chop.
  3. Combine millet with the reserved mushroom water in a medium pot set to boil; once boiled, reduce heat to low for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and grains have “sprouted”. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.
  4. While the millet cooks, warm olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic, chopped mushrooms and thyme; sauté until the the mushrooms are soft and mixture fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Fluff millet with a fork and mix in mushroom mixture.
  6. Fry eggs using the leftover oil residue used to sauté the mushrooms; top mushroom millet with fried eggs and salt and pepper to taste.

Note: To make this dish even more decadent, I used truffled salt to add a sprinkle of richness.

CHOCOLATE CHIP SEA SALT COOKIES

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Recently, I was invited to a fancy potluck party on the Upper East Side, well-attended by professional chefs and a handful of culinary school graduates. I’ve never been to culinary school. So of course I foolishly asked what I could bring to a party filled with masters of cuisine. The host asked me to bring my “best baked good!”

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In a fit of terror, I scoured recipe after recipe of the “best” for the best – pies, tarts, cakes, sweet breads – anything within my power and skills to make to impress these decorated guests. Fingers flying across my keyboard, I discovered a food lab tested, best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. What makes the “best” chocolate chip cookie? Is it the chips, the flour, the butter, the process? Serious Eats tackled the task of making “the best chocolate chip cookie.” Every part of the cookie process was dissected and tested – and what it boiled down to for me was THE BUTTER.

It’s all about the butter.

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For starters, God help you if you use margarine instead of the real thing. You will never achieve the cookie of your dreams that way. Real butter gives cookies that delicious, tender mouthfeel we all seek. More butter = wider spread and tender cookies. It gives cookies so much flavor, superior to other fats like shortening, lard or margarine. How you use the butter in your cookies is super important. If you like cakier cookies, cream your butter. If you like denser, chewier cookies, melt the butter. Brown the butter to give cookies nutty, caramelized flavor.

Yolks are a must. Don’t skip your yolks and use just whites. If your trying to eat a low-fat cookie, you should really be eating a piece of celery instead. Extra egg yolks make fudgier cookies ( oh god, oh yum). And don’t sub white sugar for brown just because you don’t feel like running to the store to get it – brown sugar yields moister cookies.

But if you like dry, crumbly, tall cookies well….don’t do any of the above. Not sure why you would. It’s not like your eating a cracker. Recipe + what I’m reading this week ——->

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(ACAI) BOWL SO HARD

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I’ve been completely digging acai bowls lately. Like, three-bowls-a-day digging. What is an acai bowl? It’s basically a thick smoothie in a bowl topped with freshly cut fruit, granola and a blob of nut butter. Acai itself is actually a reddish purple, inch-long berry from the acai palm tree native to Central and South America. People are losing their minds over acai because of its ridiculously high antioxidant levels (greater than that of blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc.). There is some anecdotal evidence that consuming acai berries promotes weight loss, but studies so far are inconclusive.

To be quite honest, I don’t go nuts over acai because of it’s flavor – I actually find it bitter, grainy and earthy. Some say it tastes like dark chocolate, but I don’t find it to be so. So why do I even bother? Because of it’s pretty purple color (yea, seriously) and it’s high antioxidant levels. It’s like throwing in a supercharged multi-vitamin into my breakfast (lunch or dinner) every day and the rest of the components to an acai bowl are super hearty and delicious.  The high antioxidant levels neutralize free radicals in our bods, and those are the little suckers that attack proteins and fats that lead to premature aging (read: WRINKLES people)  and cause different types of disease. Economically speaking, I prefer freeze dried powdered acai, like that from Navitas Naturals. It can be added to smoothies, bowls, baked goods, oatmeal, etc. Or if you are going for a thicker, ready to blend version, try Sambazon.

Bowls (or smoothies) are best enjoyed right after they are made, but they can keep well covered up to 48 hours (give it a quick stir or pulse in a blender before serving). Make is a superfood bowl by adding in chia seeds, ground flaxseeds or goji berries. I love the crunch unsweetened granola adds to the bowl and the creamy peanut butter taste.

PEANUT BUTTER VANILLA PROTEIN ACAI BOWL by yours truly

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dried acai powder (like Navitas Naturals) or 1 package frozen acai blend from Sambazon
  • 1/2 unsweetened dairy-free milk like soy or almond
  • 1 scoop unsweetened vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 frozen banana (use 1/2 unfrozen banana if using a pre-frozen acai blend pack)
  • 1/2 cup freshly cup fruit like banana, strawberries, blueberries or mangos
  • 1/4 cup low sugar granola
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter or your favorite nut butter
  • Toppings to taste like ground flax seed, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc.

Directions

  1. Blend acai, milk, protein powder and banana until thick and firm. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender to fully incorporate or add extra ice.
  2. Scoop acai base into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, granola, nut butter and toppings to taste. Enjoy!

EGG OBSESSION

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Challah egg sandwich with home fries at B&H Dairy Restaurant

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Egg over-easy on a zucchini chickpea waffle with basil and tomato (recipe below)

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Scrambled egg sandwich with avocado on Amy’s Bread

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Contadino: poached eggs with kale sprouts and kabocha squash at Maialino

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Egg and cheese sandwich from Shake Shack Grand Central

An egg can unify or save any dish.

Words I live by everyday ^^

They say it’s nature’s most perfect food: the egg. All the deliciousness (read: fat) is in that golden yolk. I can get into practically anything that has an egg top, with a flowing river of flavor.

EGG OVER-EASY ON ZUCCHINI CHICKPEA WAFFLE WITH BASIL AND TOMATO

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (garbanzo bean)
  • 1/2 +1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 grated zucchini
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your waffle iron; lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine chickpea flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg white, soy milk and olive oil; fold in grated zucchini and garlic. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto waffle iron. Bake 2-3 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
  5. While waffles bake, fry eggs over easy. When waffles are ready, evenly distribute basil and tomatoes over waffles and top with fried eggs. Break yolks so they run over waffles.  Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

HOW TO THROW A SUCCESSFUL WINE AND CHEESE PARTY IN YOUR TWENTIES

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** This post is a paid article in collaboration with Castello Cheese. All opinions and recipes are my own. **

Gone are the days of chips left in cellophane bags and watered down beers or boxed wine. An elegant, yet easy wine and cheese party is within your reach. Here are some helpful hints to throwing a successful wine and cheese party in your twenties (and thirties, or forties…) on the fly.

  1. KISS – Keep It Simple….Sally If you’re inviting more than four people to your home, keep the cooking low-key, as in not at all. I love no-cook recipes and apps. Pickles (like small and salty cornichons), flavorful cheeses, full-bodied or light wines, herbed crackers, pre-made spreads and sauces and precut vegetables or washed fruit are your best friend. Unless you are inviting over a group of sommeliers, I wouldn’t agonize over the vintage of the wine or if it pairs perfectly with the cheese or hors d’oeuvres. Just present what you like and what tastes good to you – isn’t that what having “good taste” is? No need to have precise measurements with the food either.
  2. Sharing is caring. Invite guests to bring over their favorite bottle of wine or easy homemade or store bought appetizer (people like trying their hand at Top Chef – let them). However, if it is not explicitly a potluck, I refrain from requiring or implying that guests bring over anything. You want to welcome them into your home, not make it seem like this is a business transaction. Make sure to have serving utensils and plates prepared for your guests’ food. Food looks more beautiful and appetizing on a simple plate than left in the plastic wrap or foil it traveled in.
  3. Use what you have on hand – Leftover jam? Slather them on crackers and top with cheese. Cinnamon sticks and half a bottle of whiskey? Thank goodness someone brought cider because now you can quickly heat up hot apple cider with a kick. There is no need to go out and buy brand new food if you can whip up a great appetizer using food items you already have on hand. Just make sure the food you already have is clean, unspoiled and of good quality. The beauty about hors d’oeuvres is that you can get crafty in the kitchen – I always say limitation breeds creativity.
  4. Dress it up – A lovely wooden cutting board, simple clean wine glasses, a couple of lit candles, soft music or a clear vase full of flowers (no arranging necessary) instantly class up your wine and cheese gathering. A lovely pitcher for water instead of leaving the clunky Brita filter out on the table sends the message that you also thought about your guests’ thirst – always a good idea to keep the party hydrated. Aim for table settings that look perfectly disheveled- like a model. You want it to say, “I woke up like this.” Note: An artful drizzle of honey or sauce on a cheese board goes a long way.
  5. Break out the silver – Clean up might be easier, but next level parties use real ceramic, glass and silverware. No more SOLO cups or leftover takeout utensils. Plus, you’re saving the earth and reusing items you already have.
  6. Enjoy yourself. Parties are supposed to be fun, right? So enjoy the company of your guests, food and wine. Don’t worry about the party being perfect – your guests came to see you and enjoy you’re company too, so don’t be holed up in the kitchen or running back and forth like a busy bee fawning over people.

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Now, to the food…

If stinky cheeses are the irritable, spinster aunt only a select few take a liking to, then Havarti is everyone’s favorite uncle. Of all the cheeses, Havarti might be my favorite. It’s buttery rich, yet mild creamy flavor is welcome in any setting across a variety of palates- such as a simple wine and cheese get-together of twenty 20-somethings in a cramped New York City apartment.

This versatile, semi-firm Danish cow’s milk table cheese can be sliced, grilled or melted. Washed curds give it a pleasing mild, subtle flavor and a buttery aroma. It’s lovely cream to yellow color lends itself to being a canvas for other brightly pigmented accompaniments such as jewel-toned jams, deeply colored vegetable greens and fiery red sauces. Unlike perfectly smooth, level cheeses, Havarti has small, irregular openings, or “eyes.” I like that – ultra-smoothness or perfection (in anything) can make me squeamish. It’s quite popular as a dessert cheese, and great served with fruit and wine.

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TIME FOR DIMES + SHOPSINS POUTINE + CAFE ORLIN PUMPKIN PANCAKES

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sayonara summer tacos from Dimes

We said goodbye to

Summer in tacos

Greet fall with gravy

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waffle fries poutine with curds and gravy from Shopsin’s

The cold air of fall

Means stacks of pumpkin pancakes

I can’t get enough

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pumpkin pancakes from Cafe Orlin