Earl Grey Poached Pears w/ Whiskey Pecans & Maple Whipped Cream

Poached PearI’m on a Halloween sugar high. Whoops! I made an indecent amount of dessert today for the office. But we had kids come by to trick or treat and I can admit, I got jealous. Kids get to have all the fun. SO….. I remedied the situation by making a ton of popcorn balls, rice krispy treats and dirt chocolate pudding cups with oreos and gummy worms. Oh and some spiked apple cider! I feel better. Less envious of the kids and more content with warm apple cider and chocolate pudding in my belly. Now I’m just waiting for the evening festivities! Daniel is dressing up as Freddie Mercury and I waited until the last minute to come up with something, so my co-worker fashioned me a mask and black beanie so I can be a burglar. Poached Pearclose upMy mom asked me this morning if I was excited for tonight, whether I had a costume and if it was one of those “sexy costumes you wear in your 20s because you can get away with it (kind of) costume”. I laughed pretty hard. Truth is, I have no desire to go in some skin tight or skin baring-going to be freezing all night costume. I would rather be bundled up, warm and cozy. Just saying. So this pear recipe came out of need to make something for clients at work, but I had minimal ingredients on hand and decided to improvise a recipe. It turned out pretty well and I for one, am kind of obsessed with these pears. They are light and delicate while offering so much flavor.Poached pear verticalIt is definitely the kind of dessert I would make for a dinner party and would be great for the upcoming holidays! I hope you take as much enjoyment in making these as I did. Happy Halloween!!!

Earl Grey Poached Pears w/ Whiskey Pecans & Maple Whipped Cream: serves 6

Ingredients:

For the pears:

2 cups 2% milk

3 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

4 earl grey tea bags, label or paper removed

3 medium Bartlett or d’anjou pears, cut in half, do not remove core yet.

For the pecans:

2 tbs butter

1 ½ shots whiskey

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbs maple syrup

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs maple syrup

Pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Bring milk, water, tea bags and cinnamon stick to a simmer over medium low heat (do not allow to boil) in a large saucepan. Place pears cut side down and make sure they are mostly submerged in liquid (if not, add more water and milk in equal proportions). Keep at a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out easily and pears are tender.
  2. While the pears are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Melt the butter, brown sugar and whiskey together over medium heat. Stir frequently as it begins to caramelize. Lower the heat and cook for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat and put the pecans in the pan, making sure to coat them well. Dump the pecans onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool and break apart nuts if they are stuck together.
  3. Remove the pears from the liquid and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Put the pears in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool down. Remove from freezer and take out the core (leave the stem) and make sure to keep the sides of the pear in tact. Return to freezer for a few more minutes.
  4. To make the whipped cream, pour cream in a large bowl and use a whisk attachment of either a hand mixer or stand mixer. Mix on high until the cream begins to thicken, then add maple syrup and cinnamon. Continue to mix until the cream is thick and stiff peaks form when you pull the whisk attachment out of the cream.
  5. To assemble: remove pears from freezer and place on a serving plate, dollop a big spoonful of whipped cream in the center of the pear, place a few pecans on top and on the sides and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Green Tea Smoothie

green tea smoothie 2My fridge was bare this weekend. I opened it on Saturday morning looking for something for breakfast and found a very sad and mostly empty fridge. The few items I was staring at were: almond milk, cold green tea, bananas that needed to be used that day, peanut butter and spinach. So I thought why not throw it all into a blender because I am desperate for food and can’t fathom going out of the house yet. Imagine my surprise when it actually tasted good! I have already made this smoothie two more times, so I think it is worth sharing. You might find it odd and you might want to omit the peanut butter and that’s ok.

Green Tea Smoothie: serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk

3/4 cup cold green tea (I used Trader Joe’s brewed unsweetened green tea)

1 banana cut into chunks (preferably frozen)

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use pea protein powder)

1 big handful spinach

1 tbs natural peanut butter (optional)

few drops stevia liquid or 1 tsp of honey

2 ice cubes

Directions:

1. Throw everything in blender and blend well (at least 1 minute).


Hazelnut Fig & Chocolate Energy Balls

energy balls1Last week was crazy and fun. I took over the Popover Instagram for a few days and documented the process of getting ready to cater a screening party at work. My days were very demanding. I was on my feet most of the day, running to the grocery store multiple times a day and trying to calm myself down. I was nervous about how many people were supposed to show up for this party and scared it wouldn’t all come together. energy balls 2I find it extra difficult to eat healthy during these types of stressful situations and I reached for whatever was convenient and fast. Reflecting on last week, I wish I had a snack that was both filling and healthy and didn’t make me feel bad about eating it. So it might be a little late now, but I am so glad I have this recipe in my back pocket for the next catering week! energy balls3Thanks to all of my amazing co-workers, we were able to set everything up before people arrived and it looked beautiful (see below)! I feel so relieved to have this experience under my belt and so ready for more! energy balls 4

energy balls 5These energy balls are the perfect snack to have on hand and grab for a quick bite or on your way out the door. I hope these help you stay satisfied and on track with your health goals! Here is a picture from the catering event!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Hazelnut Fig & Chocolate Energy Balls

Makes 14-18 balls

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw hazelnuts

16 dried mission figs, stems removed and chopped (If they are really dry, soak them in hot water for a few minutes, drain and continue)

1 tbs + 1 tsp coconut oil

1 pinch sea salt

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbs honey

½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped.
  2. Add the figs, coconut oil, sea salt, shredded coconut, cocoa powder and honey. Process until the figs are broken down and the mixture begins to clump together. If you are using chocolate chips, add them now and pulse a few times to distribute.
  3. Take a small amount of the mixture and press between your fingers. If the mixture stays together, it is ready. If not, add a little bit more honey and mix. This is a crumbly mixture. Take a big spoonful and press firmly between your fingers and palm 4-5 times. Gently press it into the shape of a ball. DO NOT try to roll the mixture into the shape of a ball, it will fall apart. Continue this process until you use all of the mixture.
  4. Place the balls on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or put in freezer for 15 minutes if you’re too anxious to eat them like I was!


Work Lunches + Salad Inspiration

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWork has been hectic lately. I am lucky if I get to sit down by 2:30 p.m. and enjoy my food while sitting, instead of sneaking in bites in between baking for clients and cleaning up the kitchen. When I first started work as an in-house chef at a post-production company, my eating habits were completely thrown off. Every day I make breakfast between 8:30-11:00 and after that, I am either making lunches for clients, recipe testing (and tasting) or preparing for the afternoon of snack plates to be made.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSuddenly I was eating bites here and there all day long and I was no longer eating real meals or making the healthiest decisions. I don’t know about you, but once I start snacking or indulging, I find it extremely difficult to reign in control. A few months went by like this. I wasn’t feeling great and realized that I needed a little bit more structure in my life when it came to my eating habits at work. I decided regardless of what time, I needed to sit down to a healthy lunch. So my goal for the work day is to make a hearty salad that I will feel good about eating. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIt is important to me to mix up the greens, the protein source and toppings so I don’t get bored. You’ll find some of my favorite combinations below!

Combinations:

#1: arugula, spinach, hard boiled egg, tuna, roasted herb potatoes, green beans, avocado, tomato & olives w/ lemon herb dressing

#2: kale, spinach, pan seared tofu, toasted almonds, shaved parmesan w/ lemon dressing and side of roasted baby broccoli and roasted potatoes

#3: arugula, swiss chard, pan seared salmon, goat cheese, tomato and olive w/ spicy mustard dressing


Fig & Nut Bars

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetYesterday was my birthday! I feel so loved by the outpouring of cute messages and heartfelt wishes for my coming year. It has definitely been a period of love and gratitude around here. My mom just got married last weekend and I had the honor of being a bridesmaid! We had a very simple, yet beautiful and intimate backyard wedding in northern California. I don’t think there was a dry eye anywhere. It was so humbling and encouraging to witness my mother and my new step dad exchange vows. They were raw, honest, loving, hopeful and kind. Both of them have kids and have been married before. But I was overcome with joy to see two people persevere through hardship and still have the courage to open their hearts and love again.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetDo you get swept off your feet by witnessing and experiencing love at weddings? I certainly do. Not in the way that I think to myself, “AHHHH…I MUST get married right now!”, but rather, in a way that makes me see more clearly what I already have in my relationship and my friendships. It makes me love harder and appreciate more so than I did before. So thank you mom and Alan for opening my eyes and making me more present and aware of my own joy and happiness. I wish you two the happiest and best years ahead! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSpeaking of love, I have FINALLY figured out my kind of granola bar. It is not too sweet, has a good mix of nuts to oats and lots of flavor! I have been recipe testing a lot at work and this particular mix is my favorite so far. If I am feeling fancy or crafty, I will cut some parchment paper and baker’s twine to make it look pretty. If you package them, they can also make great little gifts!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAlso, thank you Daniel for the incredible birthday dinner at Osteria Mozza. You are simply the best partner in crime. photo 2

Fig & Nut Bars: makes 12 big bars or 24 smaller squares

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

small pinch of salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

12 dried figs, stems removed and chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped (I used pre-toasted hazelnuts)

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (I used pre-toasted nuts) or pistachios, whichever you prefer

1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped

2 tbs coconut oil, softened

1/2 cup +1/4 cup honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl combine oats, salt, cinnamon, all nuts and dried figs. Stir well.

3. Next add the coconut oil and stir to evenly coat the mixture with the oil.

4. Add 1/2 cup of honey and stir really well so that the mixture becomes evenly coated and sticky. Add the last 1/4 cup of honey, making sure to drizzle it over the parts that look dry. Stir well.

5. Place the mixture in the parchment lined pan and press firmly into the pan, making sure it is even. I like to use the back side of a spatula or a piece of parchment paper to help press the mixture down.

6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour in the pan. Transfer to fridge and cool for at least an hour before cutting into bars, which will prevent them from crumbling.

7. I like to wrap them up and give them as gifts!


Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

Mushroom GaletteI stumbled upon this recipe while browsing for vegetarian savory galette recipes and this caught my eye immediately. I loved the idea of using mushrooms and fresh herbs. I tried this recipe out at work and served it as an appetizer. I found that if you cut too small of pieces, the crust falls apart a little bit in the middle, so I suggest cutting it into 8 pieces or less. I also highly recommend letting it cool down so that the whole galette firms up and can truly be a handheld snack.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette barely adapted from Bon Appétit. Serves 4 for dinner or 8 as an appetizer.

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I didn’t have on hand, so omitted it)

Galette:

1 cup ricotta (I wanted to add some more, so I used 1 1/2 cups total)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 oz. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bunch large swiss chard, ribs and stems removed leaves cut into bite size pieces

All-purpose flour (for parchment)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 cup mixed fresh tender herbs (such as flat leaf parsley, cilantro, dill and/or chives. Personally, I went with parsley, dill and chives, but only used about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions:

For the Dough:

1. Pulse all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle with vinegar and ¼ cup ice water. Mix with a fork, adding more ice water by the tablespoonful if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; lightly knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork). Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

3. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For the Galette:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Season ricotta with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; season with kosher salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of chard, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add remaining chard and cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

4. Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment to a 14” round about ⅛” thick. Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet. Spread three-fourths of ricotta over dough, leaving a 1½” border. Top with reserved chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed, to create a 1½” border; brush with egg. Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

5. Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Top galette with herbs, zest, and sea salt.