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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

August 2, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!

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Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.

As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.

I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.

I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!

That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.

I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.

You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!

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I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.

My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.

Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.

Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.

By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.

Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.

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Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings

For the gnocchi:

2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the vegetables:

2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons

1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered

2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated

1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons of salt, divided

1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

For the gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.

Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.

Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!

Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.

Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.

Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.

For the veggies:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.

Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.


Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3

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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes (whole-wheat + vegan)

June 1, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Food! Glorious food!

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It feels like I’ve barely had time to cook lately. The past six months or so, I’ve significantly upped my yoga practice, so I’ve been dashing off to afternoon or evening classes almost every day. When I get home, I’ll snack on whatever fruits and veggies I can find rather than cooking an elaborate meal. While I love yoga — I am training to become a teacher this summer and fall, after all — I do miss my daily ritual of preheating the oven and heating pans with olive oil.

Sometimes, though, a free morning or night will present itself, and I’ll get roasting, bake something, or make a yummy breakfast like these pancakes!

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After AP exams are over, most seniors at my high school go on internship — meaning we’re free from the confines of school to go out into the community and do something worthwhile. As for me, I’m currently interning at the local newspaper, building up my writing repertoire before heading off to college.

I know what you’re thinking: “Abby, I thought you were all about food! Why are you working at a newspaper?!” Well, I ain’t no one trick pony. Yes, I like to cook (and eat, cough) but I also love to write, and do photography, and do yoga, and learn about history, and draw, and do crafts, and do music and…

…okay, I’ll stop. The point is that I like lots of things, and as a teenager especially, I think it’s really important to get experience in lots of different areas in order to be the most well-rounded adult possible. Also, since I might want to pursue food writing as a possible career, this gives me good practice on the journalistic side of things.

What’s so nice about internship is that there’s no homework. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have anything to do for school in the afternoon and evening. Free time is glorious. I’ve finally had time to read books (I read Walden — one of the most amazing pieces of literature ever) and have started teaching myself how to play ukulele. It’s so nice to sit on my bed every night and strum and sing away, not having to worry about waking up at the buttcrack of dawn the next morning to suffer beneath the weight of tests and study guides and worksheets.

Now I just have to graduate. Eighteen days from today, baby. I can’t wait to decorate my cap. It’s going to be purple and sparkly and have Grumpy Cat and Pusheen on it. It will be glorious.

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So yeah. Pancakes. Pancakes are almost as fantastic as escaping four years of high school. Especially pancakes with bananas and chocolate chips.

What’s the secret to chewy, fluffy pancakes? Baking powder. Lots of it. A tablespoon seems excessive, but trust me, you need it. Nothing is sadder than a flat pancake.

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So, are you ready to how to make these marvelous breakfast delights?

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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 5 min
Total Time 20 min
Yield 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (feel free to substitute with all-purpose or gluten-free flour)

1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup + 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk

2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons of canola oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, sliced thinly into rounds

1/3-1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a large bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Pour 1 cup of soy milk into a measuring cup. Add the vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk vigorously with a fork to combine. Let sit for five minutes to congeal slightly.

Pour the milk/vinegar/flaxseed mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk, oil, and vanilla, and use a spatula to fold everything together. Stop when no clumps remain — don’t go any further!

Using the spatula, stir in the bananas and chocolate chips. Again, be careful not to over-fold. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the batter set for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Do this at least five minutes prior to pouring in any batter — you want the pan to be hot!

Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon rounds of batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd — I found that two individual scoops was best. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the top begins to harden slightly, bubbles form, and the bottom is golden brown. Gently flip, and continue cooking until no longer liquid in the center, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with maple syrup, jam, and/or peanut butter, or store in an airtight container and reheat in a toaster for later consumption.


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What are your favorite pancake add-ins? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know! 🙂


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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

May 30, 2016 Print this page

Pancakes are such a wonderful classic. A sprinkling of dark chocolate chips makes this more of an indulgent breakfast, but not so sweet to be considered dessert: the perfect balance, in my opinion. Feel free to substitute your favorite fruit for bananas (I bet strawberries or blueberries would be good!), and leave out the chocolate chips if you’d like.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 5 min
Total Time 20 min
Yield 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (feel free to substitute with all-purpose or gluten-free flour)

1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup + 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk

2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons of canola oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, sliced thinly into rounds

1/3-1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a large bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Pour 1 cup of soy milk into a measuring cup. Add the vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk vigorously with a fork to combine. Let sit for five minutes to congeal slightly.

Pour the milk/vinegar/flaxseed mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk, oil, and vanilla, and use a spatula to fold everything together. Stop when no clumps remain — don’t go any further!

Using the spatula, stir in the bananas and chocolate chips. Again, be careful not to over-fold. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let the batter set for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Do this at least five minutes prior to pouring in any batter — you want the pan to be hot!

Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon rounds of batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd — I found that two individual scoops was best. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the top begins to harden slightly, bubbles form, and the bottom is golden brown. Gently flip, and continue cooking until no longer liquid in the center, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with maple syrup, jam, and/or peanut butter, or store in an airtight container and reheat in a toaster for later consumption.


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Black and White Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free + vegan)

April 12, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello everybody! I’m back from my hiatus! Rejoice!

I wish I could say that for the past seven weeks, I’ve been embarking on a journey of self-discovery on a remote island in Kiribati, or working on some fascinating underground project like all of these other food bloggers. Unfortunately, neither has been the case: I’ve been so busy with schoolwork and overwhelmed with the weight of teenage angst that I haven’t had much time to sit down and write out some recipes.

There are times in our lives when a lot of good stuff happens at once, and it’s a fantastic euphoria party 24/7 for days, weeks, sometimes even months. Then there are times in our lives when bad stuff keeps happening, and while it often makes no sense, it proliferates, and it just outright sucks. Then there are times in our lives which are neither, where you’re kinda like an amorphous blob of mashed potatoes drifting through the expanses of space and time.

That last one has basically been me since the beginning of 2016. It’s been such a potato time, I have no other way to describe it. Until the beginning of April (!!!), I had no idea where I was going to college, and the ambiguity of it all made me beyond anxious. As a second semester senior, I no longer need to put forth the same amount of energy into my present academic affairs, so school kinda feels like a waste a lot of days. I’ve never really had a cohesive group of friends (I’m a social jellyfish), and the unintentional cliquey-ness that goes hand-in-hand with senior year has made me feel kinda isolated from my peers. Nothing “bad” has happened to me, per say, but all of the waiting and monotonous repetition has been fatiguing, and I want nothing more than to go off to college.

“Soon enough!” all of my adult and older friends exclaim. I nod apathetically and think to myself, “Not soon enough.”

Well, at least I’m now on spring break, and I finally have some time to sleep and cook and just sit around and be a lump. I made my final college decision a couple of weeks ago, and this fall, I will be attending New York University to study Global Public Health and Food Studies. I couldn’t be more excited to explore one of the most fascinating cities in the world and meet people with all different ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and life experiences. I’ll be taking classes like Food & Identity and Health and Society in a Global Context, both of which are so up my alley. So many thrilling adventures are about to play out, and all I have to do is wait. Ugh.

In the meantime, at least I have these cheesecake bars!

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I made these on a whim as I was stressing out about approximately 56,784 things. They wound up being delicious and lots of awesome people got to eat them, so that worked out well!

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Just look at these beauties. They’re simply marvelous.

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Another? You got it!

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DaYUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! (That’s my new catchphrase. I invented it. You like it? No? Okay.)

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Black and White Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

Prep Time 4 hr 15 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time
Yield 12-16 bars

FOR THE CRUST:

1 cup of rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary

1 cup of nuts of choice (I recommend almonds or walnuts)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

Generous pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water overnight

1 cup of coconut cream

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of maple syrup

3 ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, nuts, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar until coarse but well-combined, about 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and pulse a few more times just to incorporate everything. Take a handful of the crust “dough” and see if it holds together when pinched: if it sticks, proceed. If not, add another teaspoon of oil at a time until it does.

Squish the crust into the prepared pan in a flat, even layer. Bake in the preheated over until hardened and beginning to slightly brown, about 20-25 minutes. Once baked, let cool while you make the filling.

FOR THE FILLING:

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate) in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for sweetness and tangy-ness as necessary, adding more maple syrup or lemon juice if needed.

Pour out approximately 1/3 of the liquid ingredients into a bowl and add the melted chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside temporarily.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Once the crust is cool, add approximately half of the non-chocolate filling to the pan. Layer about half of the chocolate filling on top, then proceed with the other half of the non-chocolate filling and the other half of the chocolate filling on the very top. Using a duller knife or a few toothpicks, gently swirl the top to marble everything together. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a mess!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges seem dry and almost start to change color. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least four hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and eating.


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Looking forward to sharing lots more recipes with y’all in the future, since I now finally have time to do so. 🙂


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Black and White Cheesecake Bars

April 12, 2016 Print this page

Surprise! There’s no “cheese” in this cheesecake: it’s completely dairy-free (and vegan)! The crunchy crust paired with the creamy, slightly tangy filling is a perfect texture combination, and the swirls of chocolate throughout add a wonderful richness that nicely rounds out the dessert.

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 4 hr 15 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time
Yield 12-16 bars

FOR THE CRUST:

1 cup of rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary

1 cup of nuts of choice (I recommend almonds or walnuts)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

Generous pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water overnight

1 cup of coconut cream

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of maple syrup

3 ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, nuts, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar until coarse but well-combined, about 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and pulse a few more times just to incorporate everything. Take a handful of the crust “dough” and see if it holds together when pinched: if it sticks, proceed. If not, add another teaspoon of oil at a time until it does.

Squish the crust into the prepared pan in a flat, even layer. Bake in the preheated over until hardened and beginning to slightly brown, about 20-25 minutes. Once baked, let cool while you make the filling.

FOR THE FILLING:

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate) in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for sweetness and tangy-ness as necessary, adding more maple syrup or lemon juice if needed.

Pour out approximately 1/3 of the liquid ingredients into a bowl and add the melted chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside temporarily.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Once the crust is cool, add approximately half of the non-chocolate filling to the pan. Layer about half of the chocolate filling on top, then proceed with the other half of the non-chocolate filling and the other half of the chocolate filling on the very top. Using a duller knife or a few toothpicks, gently swirl the top to marble everything together. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a mess!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges seem dry and almost start to change color. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least four hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and eating.


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