Spiced Granola

Oh man, it has been way to long and I am so sorry that I have been so MIA lately. I finished culinary school in August, wrapped up my kitchen internship in October, and since then I have been working at a farm-to-table restaurant in the West Village called Mas Farmhouse. Besides getting my butt handed to me in the kitchen on a daily, I am still teaching yoga, traveling a ton and gearing up for the holidays. I am hoping that I will soon be able to settle into some sense of a routine that incorporates blogging a lot more, and sharing my travels and the fun new recipes that I have been working on. While I get all of my ducks in a row, I thought that I would share this super simple and healthy granola recipe. I have been trying to make a savory gluten-free granola for a while now, that I can eat on the go or add to my granola in the morning. I love granola, but a good gluten-free granola is not cheap when you go through it as quickly as we do. This recipe makes a ton and you will even have left over oats , so that you can easily make a second batch, because you will for sure run out. Also feel free to add whatever your little heart desires to this recipe, this is just what I had on hand at the time.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Gluten-Free Oats (rolled or old-fashioned, not instant)
  • 1 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1 Cup Pepitas
  • 1 TBS. Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt or (Truffle Salt)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tsp. Mild Curry Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 4 Tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, use a spatula to stir together oats, almonds, pepitas, salt, garam masala, curry powder and cinnamon.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut oil and honey. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat stirring constantly with a whisk to get the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to come together. Once it comes together and simmer about 30 seconds, remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the hot liquid mixture over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well with a large spatula. Spread granola on the cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 300° until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Once or twice during the baking time, pull out and stir well and put back in for the remainder of the baking.
  7. Remove the granola from the oven. If you want to add in dried fruit, add it now. Cool granola completely. If you want smaller chunks, stir several times while it cools so that it doesn’t harden into large chunks.
  8. When cooled, use your hands to break apart to the size you want and store in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  If you are looking for a gluten-free granola that is paleo and omits the oats, you should check on my Not Your Granny’s Granola’.

Enjoy!

diploma
I am alive!  I am so sorry about my lack of posting, but things have been a little bit crazy with culinary school, teaching yoga and trying to finish up a restaurant internship. I am finally starting to see the light and the end of the tunnel and I have some really good news! It is officially official, and I can hardly believe it, but I have graduated from culinary school and I am now an employed chef working at the Little Beet Table, a gluten-free restaurant in NYC. It is so crazy that I had the idea to attend culinary school in February and by September I am a real live chef!  All I have to say is that if you are thinking of going to culinary school you should definitely do it. Over the past few months, I have grown in so many ways and I have learned so much.

When I was thinking about going to a culinary school, one of my biggest fears was signing up for a two year culinary program. Two years seemed like such a long time, and what happened if I hated it. I knew that I did not want to commit the next two years of my life to going to school, so I was super excited to find a culinary school like the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). NGI was so in line with my personal values and interests and their chef in training program was only five months! My first thought was that I could do anything for five months. So I took the leap and that is what has been consuming my life lately.

As I was going through the culinary program learning ALL of the things a weird thing happened.  I was learning so much and having so much fun, that I started to wish that the time would slow down a bit or that I would have signed up for a longer culinary program. I just felt that the amount of information that we were covering was a lot in such a short period of time. At times it felt like too much for my brain to absorb. Also there were some things in the program that I wish we could have spent more time on and some things in the program that we did not cover that I wish we would have…like cheese and wine. Mmmmmm….cheeeese!

Anyway, I really wanted this post to recap all of the amazing things that I learned and got to do at school and had the full intention to blog about, but never got the chance too. But I realized that I could never accurately recap all of the amazing things that happened while I was in school. So this post ended up being one of my hardest to write. Fortunately, I ended up getting lucky that an amazing classmate of mine put together an awesome video that neatly wraps up my past six months into a lovely seven minute video. I don’t think that anything I write could possibly do a better job of giving you a glimpse of what culinary school is like, so I will just let this video do it for me. Thanks Madeline for putting it together, I will cherish it always!

Enjoy the show!

 

 

Lake TahoeOver Memorial Day weekend, Derika and our friends Emily and Tetler spent the weekend in Lake Tahoe to attend our friend’s wedding. I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, so I was super excited to spend the weekend there. We were only able to stay the long weekend since I am still in culinary school, so I know that we had to make the most of the small amount of time that we had there. We crammed a ton into three days, so I thought that it would be fun to give you a quick recap on how you can squeeze the most out of your time there. We were not that much of sporty spices while we were there, due to the weather, so this is my guide on how to successfully eat and drink your way around the lake.

 

Let the drinking adventure begin 🙂

 

We arrived into Reno on Friday night; it was just a little over an hour drive to our Airbnb. During our three nights in Tahoe, we stayed at this Airbnb and loved it. We could not snag a place on the lake, so we settled for the next best thing. This cute cottage is perfect for four people, super close to Tahoe City for a day of shopping and it has a lovely hot tub for morning and evening dips.
Since we spent one of our free days at the wedding, we only had one full day to be a tourist. Since it was supposed to rain and I had never seen the lake, we decided that it would be fun to drive around the lake. This adventure would only take you about 2.5 hours without stops. It took us the better half of the day after all of the stops that we made. 🙂

1. Start your Day off Right with an Awesome Breakfast/Lunch at the FireSign Cafe.

FireSign Cafe

We actually stopped at the FireSign Cafe on our way out of town, but I highly recommend it.  We waited a little while but they have a really cute coffee shop right behind the cafe where you can hang out. This place is great for vegetarians and meat eaters, their menu is huge, and I will definitely go back on our next visit.

 

2. Stop in Tahoe City for a Beer and some Tots at the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company.

 

3. Check out Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bay
Our Emerald Bay stop was a crowded one, but we managed to find a place to park so that we could snap a quick group photo of us in front of Emerald Bay. This is one of the best views of the lake and I would highly recommend it.

 

4. Twinkle your Toes in the Lake.

Twinkle Toes
The south side of the lake is really touristy, so try to stay away if you can. We ended up stopping in a really cute park just after we passed the south side of the lake, so that we could stretch our legs and twinkle our toes in the water.

 

5. Go to the Hyatt’s Pier 111 Bar at Grab a Cocktail in the Sunshine.

Pier 111
A friend of mine told us to go check out the restaurant at the Hyatt on the north end of the Lake. The restaurant was a bit crowded, but we noticed a bunch of people hanging out on the Pier so we thought that we would go and check it out. Come to find out that there is an awesome bar at the end of the pier. It was the perfect place to enjoy the lake in the sunshine. The first photo on this post is also from this pier.

 

6. Stop at the Lake Tahoe Cali/Nevada Border and Take a Selfie.

Cali-Nev Border

 

7. Grab a Beer, Snacks and Play Some Cornhole at the Mellow Fellow.

Mellow Fellow is located right at the California-Nevada border, so after you are done taking your selfie, you need to stop here. We loved their beer and sausage selection, and their awesome patio where we played cornhole for the better part of the afternoon.

 

8. Stop of at Gar Woods for a Wet Woody!

The stop at Gar Woods was Emily’s fault. She use to go here when she was younger and said that her mom loved the Wet Woody cocktails. Once I heard the name Wet Woody, I knew that we had to stop. This place has a full bar, but everyone in the place is drinking Wet Woodys. These drinks make you feel like you are on vacation, and are so so amazing/ridiculous, and boy do they pack a punch! Go there and enjoy a great afternoon on their patio.

The weekend flew by, but we had a great time in Tahoe and I would love to go back.  I hope you enjoyed my little adventure and have fun trying our some of my recommendations.

 

Happy Traveling!

Knife

I can’t believe it, but I have already been in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet institute (NGI) for over 6 weeks now! Over the course of that time we have simmered, poached, baked, sautéed, sweated, boiled, scrambled, steamed, blanched, mixed, toasted and broiled some of the most amazing food that I have ever made or had. I have also eaten more grains, seaweed, vegetables and seitan than a girl knows what to do with. To my relief, I am not as overwhelmed as I was at the beginning, I am finally starting to get my groove on with my morning commute, and I am loving every minute of it.

I have to say that if culinary school is on your bucket list I would highly recommend it. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I have to say that it is such an amazing feeling to have.

Over the past seven weeks, I have been shocked by how much we have been able to cover in the short time that we have been in school. I am having a hard time recapping everything that I have been doing over the past couple of weeks, so I thought that I would outline a typical day in the life of a culinary student. I want to paint a better picture for you, just in case you are considering quitting your job and becoming a full-time culinary student. 😉

Ok, Let’s Do This…

5:15am– The alarm goes off and I try not to drive Derika crazy by hitting snooze ten times over. I slump out of bed, and over the next hour I shower, eat, watch a little Robin Meade on HLN and try to get myself ready to deal with the subway. I like to give myself a little extra time just to relax in the morning, because the subway ride can get a little intense. (If I am not teaching a yoga class in the morning the alarm would go off at 7:00am and I would leave the house at 8:00am).

  • 6:15am– Leave the house and walk (if it is nice out) to Unity Yoga to teach my morning class.
  • 7:00am– My yoga class begins.
  • 8:00am– My class ends, I quickly rinse off, change, and rush off to catch the subway to school.
  • 8:10am– I squeeze myself onto the subway that is packed like a can of sardines. I’ve now officially become a New Yorker and cram my headphones into my ears (I am obsessed with these). This seems to help as I try to drown out the uncomfortableness of random people’s body parts brushing up against me. Sometimes the subway is so full I swear my feet are not touching the ground.
  • 8:40am– I hop off the subway and pop into a Starbucks for some liquid energy, where they may or may not know my name at this point. 😉

Killing the morning commute

  • 8:50am – I sprint to school taking a little bit longer of a route, so that I can pass by not one, but two doggie daycares on my way. Look at how cute these guys are!

Puppies!

  • 8:55am– I arrive to school with just enough time to do the shuffle in the co-ed locker room with my classmates, as I try to hurriedly get into my chef’s uniform without flashing anyone in the process.
  • 9:00am– If I am the classroom steward that week, I have to arrive 15 minutes early to class. It is then my job along with another classmate to collect all of the supplies for our class that morning and set it all up for the chef.
  • 9:15am– The chef takes attendance. If everything has gone as planned, I am in class, in uniform and ready for the morning demo or lecture. This mostly involves just listening and note taking, but sometimes it also involves some chopping, prepping and maybe even a little bit of cooking.

Eggshells

  • 12:15pm– We are released for our one-hour break. This hour is the fastest of the day, so I usually just hang out in the classroom/kitchen swapping bites of my lunch and cooking tips with my classmates. I try to pack a healthy salad on most days to balance all of the food sampling that I will be doing later in the day.

Healthy Salad

  • 1:00pm – Part of my stewarding responsibilities is to arrive 15 minutes early from lunch to help get things set up for the afternoon portion of class.
  • 1:15pm – The chef takes attendance and we get ready for a quick lecture and an afternoon of cooking.
  • 1:30pm – The chef breaks our small class of 14 up into groups, gives us our cooking assignments, and we spend the rest of the afternoon cooking things like this, this and this. So much FUN!
  • 3:30pm – We plate all of our dishes and get a chance to taste everything that we have made while getting some feedback from the chef and my classmates.

Soups

  • 3:45pm – We pack up more leftovers than I know what to do with, and then we start to clean up the kitchen.
  • 4:15pm – We are released from class and I head up to the locker room to change and get ready to deal with the subway during rush hour.

If it happens to be a Thursday that I’ve signed up to help out with the NGI Friday Night Dinner Series, I get to stay at school a little bit longer 😉

  • 4:30pm – I head to another kitchen in my school to assist the chef and the students that are in charge of the dinner for that coming Friday. Over the course of the evening, I chop, prep and cook whatever they need help with.
  • 7:30pm – We have a quick break to snack on some amazing food that was prepared by one of the chefs at school.
  • 7:45pm – We are back at it, and continue to prep for the next day.

Dani and cookies

  • 9:30pm – We are finished prepping and cleaning, and I head up to the locker room to peel off my well-loved and very dirty chef’s uniform.
  • 9:40pm – I leave school and make my way to the subway.
  • 9:55pm – I hop on the subway and head home to do it all over again the next day.

Not all days are this long, this is just one of the more challenging days that I have had, and yet I still wake up the next morning excited to do it all over again. I just feel super lucky to have the opportunity to do this program and I am excited about the life long friends that I am making. I know that I am only seven weeks in, so I might have to edit this post at the end of my program when I don’t have as much pep in my step, but for now I am enjoying the ride!

Cheers,

Irish Curry Sauce
Derika and I went to Ireland in 2008 and had the time of our lives. We started in Dublin and road tripped the whole southern half of the country, stopping wherever our little hearts desired or whenever we got thirsty. Let’s just say there was a lot of Jameson and Guinness consumed…

Being a vegetarian, I was worried that I would have a hard tome finding things to eat in Ireland. As I suspected, Ireland was not super duper vegetarian friendly, but I manage and was actually able to find a decent amount to eat. A couple of things that really stand out in my mind was the amazing vegetable soup served with brown bread and the pounds and pounds of curry sauce and chips that I consumed. I still daydream about that curry sauce!

For St. Patrick’s Day this year, my Irish friend Tori and I went to Molloy’s Irish Pub in NYC, for some Guinness and some curry and chips. Somehow we managed to squeeze into a seat at the bar, where I got to order Tori her first Irish car bomb. This girl right here is a TRUE friend 😉 The bar was slammed, but we decided to brave it and order curry and chips to go with our Guinness. We waited forever, but we eventually got our chips, and to our delight they were amazing! I am so going back to Molloys for these chips!

Of course right when our chips arrived, the bar went ALL St. Patrick’s Day on us and decided it was the perfect time to have a small person dressed as a leprechaun hop onto the bar, I know so weird right!? This leprechaun then proceeded to run up and down the bar dumping shots of Jameson into everyone’s mouth while jumping over our lovely curry chips. It was so bizarre, disturbing, and very challenging to try to eat our chips while all of this was happening.

Molloy's Irish PubGosh, that leprechaun was creepy!

We ended up having a blast and somehow managed to walk out of there alive! But of course I dreamt about leprechauns and curry chips that whole night. I woke up the next day wondering if I would be able to create my own curry chips at home minus the leprechaun…Hmmmmmm.

The other day I invited Tori over for my famous Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteaks. Since I had a real live Irish person coming over, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to try to whip up some curry fries as an appetizer. This is what I ended up coming up with and it has the Irish stamp of approval from Tori. 😉 Don’t let the list of spices intimidate you, I was able to scrounge up all of these from my spice cabinet, and if you don’t have some of them, they are super easy to find at the store.

Curry Fries Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS Ghee, or Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 C Onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large apple, peeled and diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Inch Ginger, minced
  • 2 TBS Mild or Medium Curry Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Turmeric
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 TBS Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1-2 C Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Tamari
  • 1 Tsp. Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 TBS Tomato Paste
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl prepare your spice blend by adding the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander seed, and cinnamon, and set aside. (I used a medium yellow curry powder, because I like my food to have a little kick.) Look how pretty it looks!Spice Blend
  2. Add the ghee or oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7-10 minutes to caramelize them a bit.
  3. Add the peeled and diced apple to the pan and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  4. Toss in the minced garlic and ginger and stir.
  5. Add the aromatic spice blend and stir.Apples and Spices
  6. Mix the spices, onions, and garlic together as they cook for another two minutes, so that all of the flavors can get to know each other and become friends.
  7. Add the gluten-free flour or your sauce thickener of choice. Cook it over medium heat for two minutes, stirring frequently being careful not to let the flour burn to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Gradually add the veggie stock stirring constantly. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you mix everything together. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer the sauce.
  9. Then add the tomato paste and a teaspoon of Braggs or tamari, to add a little sass to the sauce. Mix everything together and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool a little bit before you blend it. If you don’t have time to cool off your sauce before you blend it, just use extra care and make sure you hold the blender lid down. You don’t want a volcano mess to erupt into your kitchen.
  11. I ran mine thought my Vitamix, and it only took about a minute to get a smooth consistency. Adjust your blending time based on what type of device you use to blend your sauce.
  12. Return the sauce to the pan and turn the heat back on low. Bring it to a simmer while you are getting your chips ready for the sauce.
  13. You’re ready to serve your curry sauce with your chips or fries. You can make your own fries (recipe coming soon) or you get a higher quality store-bought variety. I am currently obsessed with these fries that are made by Kettle Chips. I found them at Whole Foods Market. They are so good!Kettle Fries

Prepare your fries and either serve the curry over the fries or with the curry on the side and eat the living crap out of it.

Fries and Curry Sauce

Enjoy!

Follow Your Dreams

All right friends, I am squeezing this one in right under the wire. I can’t believe that it is already the end of April and I am just posting my first This & That Thursday post! I am currently in week two of the culinary program at the Natural Gourmet Institute and I am having ALL of the fun. I am just a teeny bit overwhelmed, which I guess is to be expected. It is worth it though, because I am doing something that I really love. We have just started to cook up a storm this week, and I am super duper excited about all of the things that I am learning. I really can’t wait to start sharing everything with you guys.

Over the past week we have been learning about every fruit and vegetable under the sun, and we also learned how to fry ALL of the things! Fried things are still healthy if they are vegetables, right? 😉

Fried Veggies!

In addition to frying all of the things, I have still managed to find some time to fall in love with a few things. So I thought that I would whip together a teeny list of things that I am currently obsessing over right now.

  • I really really want to subscribe to THIS for their undie of the month club! I mean how could you not want to be in and undie of the month club!?

 

  • I have been fermenting the heck out of all of the things with THIS awesome fermentor. If you like pickled things, this will be your new best friend.

 

  • With the fermentor that I have mentioned above, I’ve just made the most mind blowing kimchi with THIS secret spice.

 

  • I love a good burrito, and I love THIS cute video of someone that loves burritos just at much as I do.

 

  • Even though I already have about 5 of them, I am so so in love with THIS mala. I think that I might need it.

 

  • I am obsessing over THIS fair trade company that gets their goods from Thailand. If you need a great gift for a friend check out this awesome company.

 

Sorry for the short list, but I hope the video will makes up for it. Do something that scares you in May and have ALL of the fun!!

Happy Spring!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus

Derika and I spent our ten year anniversary in Santorini Greece in July of 2014. Both of us have always wanted to go to Santorini, so we decided that our ten year anniversary was the perfect time to make the trip. We had such an amazing time; you can read about our adventures here and you can check out some of our favorite places to eat here. Santorini is famous, food-wise, for a few things: yellow split peas, tomatoes, and wine to name a few. The white wine grapes are called Assyrtiko, and you can see them growing all over the island.

So Derika was going to order a flight of six and somehow I swooped in and this happened!

The most common way to prepare Santorini’s yellow split peas is in a dish called “fava.” Fava has nothing to do with fava beans. It only uses Santorini yellow split peas. (Fava beans are used very rarely in Greece, because a significant chunk of the population is allergic to them.)

As for the Santorini tomatoes, you will find them in all of the salads, and see them growing all over the island. I actually think that they are the best tomatoes that I have ever had.

Enjoy the cute Santorini tomatoes.

Derika and I fell in love with the fava bean hummus and we ended up eating it at almost every sit down meal that we had. I loved it so much; that I actually bought some dried fava beans from a street vendor so that I could make it when I got home. These beans look a lot like red lentils when they are dried, and I’d suggest using red lentils for this recipe if you can’t find Santorini fava beans in the States. The locals prepare the fava beans into a paste like hummus. It is served warm at meals, or cold as a snack with bread. It is really quite delicious, especially when you top it with crispy capers, diced red onion and a squeeze of lemon!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 C Dried Santorini Fava Beans (or Dried Red Lentils)
  • 3 C Water
  • 1 Small Red Onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1 TBS Capers, drained
  • Lemon, 1 Slice
  • White pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse your dried fava beans (or lentils) until the water runs clear.
  2. Add the fava beans to a large pot along with 3 cups water, 3/4 of the red onion, the apple cider vinegar, and salt.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and skim off any white foam that forms on top.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 60 minutes, or until the beans are cooked through and the mixture has formed a creamy paste. Feel free to add more water while cooking if needed.
  5. While your hummus is cooking, add 1 tsp. of olive oil to a frying pan, heat it up and then add the capers to the oil. Saute the caper for 5-7 minutes until they are a bit crispy. Set aside.
  6. Once the beans are done simmering, whisk the olive oil into the beans until you get a smoother consistency. I whisked my hummus instead of running it through a food processor, because I like it a bit chunkier. Feel free to run it though a food processor if you would like it smoother.Whisked Fava Bean Hummus
  7. Let your hummus cool off for about 30 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Transfer the warm finished fava bean hummus to a plate.
  9. Top it with a drizzle of olive oil, the fried capers and the rest of the diced red onion.

I really liked making this traditional dish and found it a wonderful alternative to basic hummus. It is definitely something I’ll keep in my repertoire when I am making Greek or Middle Eastern food at home. It is a great high-protein meal that is vegan and gluten-free!

Santorini Fava Bean Hummus

Enjoy!

Dani in Chef Hat

In exactly one week from today, I will be attending my first day of culinary school!

HOLY COW, I am excited, nervous, and feel like I want to throw up all at the same time.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have come to realize that I have a small obsession with food.

  • I am constantly following new restaurants that are opening up in the city, and dragging Derika all over so that we can give them a try.
  • l research the heck out of all of the restaurants when we are traveling, and take an embarrassing amount of photos of our food while we are there so that I can blog about it.
  • I spend hours scrolling Pinterest looking at recipes and forever adding them to my Recipes I Want to Make list.
  • I love whipping up new and healthy dishes in the Glitter Spice test kitchen. Some make it to the recipes page and some are just things that should never be made again. Thank you Derika for being my guinea pig. 🙂

I have been blogging for over two years now; it is something that I do almost daily that I really truly love. It has also caused a fantasy of culinary school to slowly creep into my mind. The problem is that I don’t love school, I have no interest in going back to school for another 2 years to get another degree, and I was nervous about having to cook weird mystery meat. So I put my culinary school dream on the ‘it would be nice, but it is never going to happen‘ list, and never expected anything to come of it.

Then…in walks the Natural Gourmet Institute.

At the end of January I found myself up late one night scrolling through The FaceSpace, when I came across an ad for a culinary school in New York called the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). I got sucked in and followed the link and spent the next hour speed-reading through the school’s website, all along getting more and more excited. So here’s the deal, if I were to create a culinary school this would be it. If I was living in another state and heard about NGI, I would wish that I lived in NYC so that I could attend this school! Basically, I was doing somersaults in the bed!

Here is the first thing that I read that got me ALL of the excited… NGI calls it their ‘MANIFESTO’ and I like it!

Preparing

food that is: seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious.

Embracing

that what we eat significantly affects our physical, mental and spiritual well being.

Understanding

that each individual thrives on a diet unique to their specific needs.

Providing

exceptional, innovative and interdisciplinary education.

Empowering

individuals and communities to take charge of their own health and well-being.

Creating

a professional and nurturing environment where students and employees are able to realize their full potential.

Supporting

the creation and maintenance of a sustainable food system by building connections with suppliers and taking on broader advocacy initiatives.

All of this is like music to my ears and makes me so darn happy and excited!

Guess what else!?

The full-time programs is only six months (so I will be done by the end of summer…AWESOME!), it is mostly vegetarian and when we do cook meat it is local and sustainable (BRILLIANT!), and the values that are taught are very similar to the values that I use in my every day life (HAPPINESS!).

By the time that Derika got home from work the next day. I had already arranged for a meeting at the school, signed up for the open house, registered us for one of their Friday Night Dinners and started working on my application. Basically you can say that I was a tad bit excited! I just needed to tell Derika about my plan, which I did at dinner that night. Since she is awesome, it was super easy and she was super supportive and excited about my new adventure. #bestwifeever!

The next day I started securing letters of recommendation (Thank You Sarah and Shannon!!), applying for scholarships and finishing up my application. All of this was buttoned up and sent out in about 2 weeks time, and by that time we had already gone to our first Friday Night Dinner, which is BYOB by the way :)!

I was nervous and excited to go to this dinner. I was nervous, because I was already so excited about this school, and if it sucked then the air would be taken out of my sail a bit. I was excited, because I would get an opportunity to see what I would possibly be doing soon! I kept on telling myself to not get too excited, because I was not even accepted yet! Derika and I ended up having an amazing time at the Friday Night Dinner. She even made a comment during our meal that if all vegan food tasted this good then she could easily be vegan, and I totally agreed with her. Over the course of the evening we enjoyed an amazing salad with chickpea croquettes, a great vegan tempeh jambalaya and an awesome orange sorbet.

After all of the amazing food, we got to meet the chefs and ask them a few questions about the meal. I asked waaaaay to many questions and ended up leaving more excited than ever!

Now all I had to do was wait to see if I got accepted…which was the worst.

Thank goodness, exactly one month later, I found out that I got accepted into NGI and as I have already mentioned…I am super-duper excited!

The next day I headed to the uniform shop downtown and picked out my chef coat, chef hat, pants, funny looking clog shoes and apron and I have just been waiting anxiously to get started.

Chef Coat

So there you have it! This is the story of how culinary school has finally become a reality in my life. I have no idea on what I am about to get myself into, but my goal is to share as much as I can. I am not setting my expectations to high, but I am going to try my best to document it on my blog the best that I can. I think it will be good for myself to document this new adventure in my life, but I also think that it would be a great resource for anyone else that is thinking about taking the NGI leap. I hope you enjoy the ride!

Here’s to taking chances and following your dreams!

Cheers,

 

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Does the bright yellow squash in the produce section make you wonder how you are going to turn something squash-like into something spaghetti-like? Well, you have found yourself in the right place.

Ok, so I have to be honest. Spaghetti squash does not taste completely like spaghetti noodles, but it does a little bit. The key to making it convincing is how you use the spaghetti squash after it is cooked. If you’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash and are looking for some ideas, you should check out my Baked Spaghetti Squash and my Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai recipe. I am constantly thinking up new and creative ways that I can use spaghetti squash. So I thought that since I plan on making more things with this amazing squash, it would be easier to have this recipe here for easy access. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for noodles if you are looking to eat a little healthier, or if you are cooking for one of you gluten-free friends.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil

Directions

1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Be careful, go slow, and cautiously slice the squash in half.

2. Scoop out and set the seeds aside (bake them like pumpkin seeds…yum yum yum.  Check out my seed recipe here).

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

4. Brush the inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You don’t have to be too careful here: just slather, sprinkle, and it’s ready!

5. Place squash halves cut side down on a heavy-bottomed roasting pan.

6. Roast the squash for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a fork punctures the flesh of the squash easily.

7. Remove squash from the oven and allow it to cool just enough so you can handle it, about 5 minutes. Scrape the flesh from the squash into wonderful, stringy “noodles” with a sturdy fork and place in a small serving bowl. If some of the strands clump or gather together, simply separate them using your hands.

Scraped Squash

8. Set spaghetti squash “noodles” aside until you need them for your recipe.

Spaghetti Squash

I can’t wait to hear what you make with your spaghetti squash!

Happy Spaghetti Squashing!

What I Ate in Thailand

The food scene in Thailand is no joke! I literally ate my way through Thailand and I am not sad about it one bit, as a matter of fact I was constantly blown away by the food that I was chowing down on. As a result I decided to do a completely separate post on the amazing and random things that I ate while I was traveling through Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi. This list is going to be a combination of some of my favorite food places and some of the unique and delicious things that we ate at those places. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

Taro Chips for Miles!

Chips for Miles!

Thailand Cooking Classes

I can’t take you on our culinary adventure without talking about the Thai cooking classes that we took while we were in Thailand. This is the first time that we have ever taken cooking classes on our travel adventures, and I have to say that I am a huge fan. I loved learning how to cook some of my favorite Thai dishes, because it gave me a better appreciation and understanding of the food that we were snacking on. It also made me realize how different the food could be from region to region within the country. All of the classes that we took were AMAZING and I would highly recommend any of the schools that we attended if you are planning a Thailand trip. Below is a quick recap of the cooking schools that we attended and the food that we got to make in each class. Stay tuned for recipes from our trip, such as this amazing and simple Chiang Mai Curry!

Bangkok – BaiPai Cooking School

The BaiPai Cooking School was located in an open air building in Bangkok…I basically wanted to live in the building that the school was in! The chefs were super friendly and offered a ton of veggie options for this vegetarian, so I was a happy camper. We grilled, mortared and pestaled, simmered and seasoned our hearts out! Over the course to the afternoon we learned how to make tom yum soup, chicken/tofu satay, red curry and mango sticky rice.

Chiang Mai – Four Seasons Cooking School

In Chiang Mai we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel just outside of the city. We took our cooking class inside of our hotel at the Four Season Cooking School. Similar to the BaiPai Cooking School in Bangkok, the Chef would demo all of the dishes first, which left room for questions and made learning and cooking the dish so much easier. Over the course of the afternoon we made a young green chili dipping sauce for veggies and pork, red curry paste (which was totally different from BaiPai’s red curry paste) and a Chiang Mai curry, which was my favorite!

Krabi – Rayavadee Cooking School

The cooking school that we went to in Krabi was actually located in the Rayavadee hotel that we were staying at. We were supposed to have the cooking class outside, but since it was raining they held it in the open-air part of the restaurant, which was perfect. They partnered us up, introduced us to the Thai chef who runs the restaurants at the resort and we started cooking. The cooking class was neat, because this was the first time that this chef has ever hosted a cooking class for a group. This class was also a bit different from the other Thai cooking classes that we had taken on this trip, because this class was structured like a Top Chef episode, which was a fun twist. We were given instructions on how to cook each dish, the Chef would float around and offer cooking suggestions and tips, and then she would come back and taste each group’s dish and pick a winner. At the Rayavadee Cooking School we made fried chrysanthemums, a prawn curry and fried soft shell crabs.

Now let’s move onto the amazing and bizarre food that we snacked on during our adventure.

Bangkok

Even if you are not staying at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, you should definitely plan to have at least one meal at their Verandah Restaurant in this hotel along the River of Kings. Some of our most memorable meals were enjoyed at this hotel. A few of our favorite things that we ate during our stay was a spicy basil fried rice, a shrimp pad Thai, the best green curry that I have ever had, a pad see ew and one of the most epic breakfast buffets that I have ever seen!

 

Ayutthaya Temple and Market

We saw a lot of temples on our Thailand adventure, but Ayutthaya was one of my favorites. You can read more about the temple in my Bangkok post. On our way back from the temple we strolled though an amazing Thai market that had a ton of interesting Thai foods that we got to try. Derika and I ended up trying some salty taro sticks, some peanut brittle and some banana chips. The salty taro sticks were so amazing, that I ate a whole bag after sharing some with the group I was with!

My favorite thing that we picked up at the market was the cotton candy! This is not your ordinary light and fluffy cotton candy. This cotton candy actually looks like Barbie Doll hair, and comes with a sweet kind of tortilla that you roll the cotton candy strands into!? I know it sounds so strange, but it was soooo awesome! It tasted amazing and was one of my most favorite and bizarre things that I ate the whole trip!

Chatuchak Market aka The JJ Market

We went to the JJ Market to check some of the 8000 booths that are at this market, and to try some unique Thai delicacies. We tried things that looked like cherries and miniature vegetables, but were actually not a fruit or a vegetable at all. These mysterious looking fruits and mini vegetables were made completely out of mung beans!? Look how cute they are!

You could also find these unique mung bean delicacies in the shape of pearls and were floating around in our coconut cream desserts.

Coconut Cream Dessert

Derika got brave and tried some Durian. Durian is (I pulled this right from Wikipedia) a fruit whose “edible flesh emits a distinctive odor that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage. The persistence of its odor has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia.”  I think it has a bad rap, but I think that you get the point. :)

Derika Eating DurianMy favorite thing that we tried at the market was a fruit called a rose apple. It is a bizarre zombie looking apple that tasted a little like a pear and a little like an apple, but was just a touch sweeter than an apple. They were sooo good even if they are creepy looking!

Apple Pears

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

At the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok, we sampled some grilled bananas on a stick that came with a sweet honey-like dipping sauce. You can also read more about the floating market in my Bangkok post.

Grilled Banana on a Stick

Also at the floating market we hopped off at the only shop you could walk around in and tried our hand at making and taste tested some palm sugar mounds. That little man in the photo made about 30 mounds to my one. He was super nice and so friendly; I wanted to hang out with him all day.

Inn Chan Restaurant and The Rose Garden

We had lunch at Inn Chan at the Rose Garden. The scenery was incredibly beautiful, but the neatest thing about this lunch spot is they featured all sorts of amazing carved fruit. I mean, look at the detail of the fruit carving below!

Thailand Fruit Carving

In addition to seeing some of the most beautifully carved fruit, we had some amazing traditional Thai food in a beautiful setting and some of the best coconut ice cream for dessert. You can get coconut ice cream all over Thailand. If you see it on the dessert menu at any of the restaurants that you are at, I highly highly recommend trying it.

Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai at the Loi Krathong Lantern Festival we tried some sweet street tacos.  I could have eaten 10 of these! The exterior was a thin and crispy pancake that tasted like a fortune cookie. The insides consisted of marshmallow cream and shredded vegetable matter. Pumpkin? Squash? Googling “Thai Tacos” did not shed any light on the matter. You could get them sweet or savory. I loved all of them.

In Chiang Mai, I FINALLY got to try a REAL Thai iced tea. It tastes so different that what you get in the States. Most of the Thai dishes that you order come with all of the condiments on the side so that you can heat it and spice it to your own liking. I love this because then you can cater your food to your own spice preference, and it makes sharing so much easier. The Thai iced tea in Thailand is served the same way. They serve all of the tea condiments on the side so that you can make it as creamy and as sweet as you want it. So yummy!

Thai Iced Tea

One of my most favorite meal times in Thailand was breakfast, and I am not even that big of a breakfast person. Every place that we stayed at had an amazing breakfast buffet, but you could also just get a warm noodle soup packed with a bunch of veggies, a protein of your choice and this all came with an amazing side of condiments. I had soup every morning for breakfast even when it was in the 90s. I was a bit obsessed!

That about sums up our Thai culinary adventure and now all I can think about is Thai food! This was one of the few countries that I have ever been too that I was not sick of the food when it came time to leave. I actually think that this travel adventure made my Thai food cravings even worse. If I leave you with one thing, I want it to be this…Try the doll hair cotton candy on your Thailand adventure. I would not have tried it if someone hadn’t talked me into it. It seriously was something that I think that everyone should experience at least once.

Happy Travels!