Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

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To me, one the best things about September through November is that it’s generally acceptable both culinarily and socially to live a pumpkin-spiced version of your regular life. Last night, I realized that it was officially December, and I had not posted a single pumpkin-inspired recipe. So to make up for for not representing my most authentic self, I am sharing one of my new favorite recipes for all of you who secretly make pumpkin things year-round but reserve public enthusiasm outside of the designated season.

Curried Chick-un Apple Salad

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I recently moved to Seattle, and while the hot summer days have been a pleasant surprise to me, I have definitely found myself in an unfamiliar predicament.

Due to typical weather conditions, it’s quite common for apartments here to not have AC. While the eco-conscious nerd in me may be cheering, the cook in me is melting. I live alone in a rather small apartment, so when I turn on the oven to cook or bake, my entire apartment too takes on the oven identity, and I end up roasting myself with along my veggies.

Something had to give. So I wracked my brain and suddenly remembered one of my favorite college day appliance-free STAPLES.

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Recipe to be enjoyed…with or without AC.

Curried Chick-un Apple Salad

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 0 mins! | Total Time: 15 mins
Makes: approx. 3 cups of salad 

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1 Persian cucumber or 1/2 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped or shredded
  • 3 Tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rinse the chickpeas and dump in a large bowl. With a fork or potato masher (but who really has a separate potato masher), smash at least half the chickpeas, leaving the rest in larger chunks for texture.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Add this plus all the remaining chopped ingredients to the chickpeas and stir until combined.  You can always adjust the spices and consistency with more/less greek yogurt to desired.
  4. ENJOY your chick-un salad scooped on salad, smashed on toast, wrapped up in a tortilla or as a tasty dip with crackers or chips.

Beyond the Plate

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Anthony Bourdain dropped out of high school and started his career in the restaurant business as a dishwasher.

This is not an anomaly. It’s the beauty of this industry. It’s not about who you are on paper. It’s who you are in the kitchen. Almost any famous chef or restauranteur you’ve ever heard of worked their way up to where they are now. It’s hard work, dedication and passion in their rawest forms. Cooking, in particular has sparked a sense of purpose known to completely turn lives around.

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I’ve heard inspiring stories in the media and even from coworkers in various restaurants, so I knew that this was true, but recently I had the opportunity to witness the power of cooking in its full glory.

I want to share my experience interning at Saint Joseph’s Center in Venice, CA. I was mostly involved with the Culinary Training Program, a 12-week cooking course for people getting back on their feet or with other barriers to employment. They train hard in the kitchen daily, attend lectures on everything from cooking techniques to resume building, and work shifts at a local cafe called Bread and Roses in Venice Beach that feeds the homeless. After completing the curriculum, their experience culminates in a four-week externship at a restaurant or other food service establishment based upon their culinary interests.

And after this? The possibilities are endless.

And miles beyond what could have been imaginable just 18 weeks before.

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This was truly a rewarding experience for everyone involved.  From the program coordinators and social workers, to the guest chefs who shared their time, stories, and knowledge, and of course. the talented students themselves, it is truly a team effort. Everyone comes in with a unique story, background and series of hardships; and everyone leaves with a new sense of motivation, passion, lifelong skills and a culinary family supporting them in this next phase of their lives.

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The next time you find yourself enjoying the vibrant LA restaurant scene, take a second to appreciate that the food in front of you. It may have a story that reaches far beyond the plate.

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Above: Last day with the amazing team at the CTP

To learn more about the program or get involved, check out their website and follow them @sjculinary

(all photos courtesy of SJC/CTP)

World’s Easiest Apple Galette

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Looks shmancy. Sounds shmancy.  But I swear this is one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make.  What is a galette? It’s basically a lazy pie.

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This is perfect for any leftover scraps of phyllo dough or pie crust you may have from other recipes too!

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I went with an apple pie inspiration, but the possibilities are endless! You can make any size or shape, and sub in any other fillings sweet or savory. Try other fruit(s) or jams, nutella, veggies & goat cheese – you get the idea. Go nuts. And while you’re at it, nuts make for a great topper too.

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4 ingredients, 30 mins.  Les’ do it.

Easy Apple Galette

Prep Time: 10 mins, Cook Time: 40 mins, Total Time: 50 mins
Makes: 1 smallish (~10″) galette 

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet of phyllo dough or approx. equivalent of leftover scraps
  • 1 medium granny smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • optional: dash of nutmeg, cloves, sea salt, pecans, brown sugar
  • approx. 1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil) plus more for brushing
INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Roll out phyllo dough and form into a circular shape (or desired shape). Set aside.
  • In a small frying pan, heat oil until translucent.
  • Add sliced apple, cinnamon, and any other optional spices. Saute on low-medium just until slightly tender.
  • Arrange apples in the center of phyllo dough, leaving a couple inches around the outside.
  • Fold in along the edges of the dough, leaving the center open.
  • Lightly brush the edges with oil.
  • Top with pecans and sprinkle of brown sugar, if desired (highly recommend)
  • Bake for 30-45 mins or until dough is golden brown.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 12 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool. Slice and serve with your favorite greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream!
  • Enjoy!

Oh, you FNCE huh?

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A month since FNCE and still making my way through a mini mountain of samples from all of the amazing exhibitors. Though the variety and level of creativity was incredible, there were a few distinct recurring trends: simple ingredient bars, nut and seed butters, plant-protein products (mostly pea protein), creative uses of grains and legumes and all probiotic everything.  I wish I could shoutout to all the amazing products I tried, but in no particular order or endorsements, here are 5 of my favorite finds you gotta check out:

Chickpea-nut Butter Banana Blondies

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Though I will never get tired of a good old fashioned PBJ, I will admit to an infatuation with its close relative, the PBHB. (peanut butter-honey-banana).  If you’re looking for a remedy to many of life’s ailments, try chunky pb topped with sliced banana, a drizzle of honey, and a pinch of cinnamon. If that doesn’t work, make the chunky pb from scratch at home (recipe to come).