THE FLAVOR OF LIFE: GRATITUDE

The intention of gratitude is to not take pity on those in less fortunate circumstances & to not conjure jealousy for ones who carry more prosperity. In this case, we look at it selfishly for we find our gratitude in the simple moments & appreciate what led us here.

 

When you wake up, you make a decision to lounge wrapped in cozy bed linens or retrieve your physical form from bed to the outside. Even those simple choices create your world. Your life map has been crafted for you with many paths. Some "better" than others, but all align with the some impact on thousands of people. Think back to all of the souls you have come in contact with. People will see over 50 new humans a day, more or less. One of my favorite things while riding the subway to work, is to casually gaze over them. Imagine their life stories and how remarkable it is that in a split second you meet, not with words, but with eyes. 

HaasGratitude
HaasGratitude

We reach these clear times in life where we feel complete happiness. We do not need to analyze the situations, just relish in the feeling of wholeness. I have experienced this when I am doing something that I love, a piece of what makes me who I am. The results of such happiness are tears. Tears of utter merriment. It's a strange swirl of emotions, grace, and confidence. 

The more I expose myself to the powers of the universe, the more I get to count these experiences. It is magic. The rain no longer feels like a nuisance, more of a cleansing miracle potion. The sun no longer feels uncomfortably hot, more like a necessary element for my spiritual grow. Clouds feel like curtains to my life show. Snow is like confetti for a party.

HaasGratitude

The point I'm trying to get at is to become self aware in the little moments. Those are what make life what it is. Be grateful for the oxygen plants provide. Appreciate being late because at least you have a place to be. Look around you. Feel around you. Absorb it and hold it. Place yourself in blank state of mind free of judgement. You are meant to be here through the good and the bad. Enjoy it for more than just what it is.  

HaasGratitude
HaasGratitude

NEW YEAR, NEW YORK

There is something poetic in New York. No, it is not the overwhelming glistening lights or the obnoxious horns blaring from stories below or all of the crowded tourists pleasures. 

New York is a place of unity & I think that is what makes it so magical. Dating back to the 1800's, millions of people have made the great trip to come to that island longing for hope of a better tomorrow. That is still seen today.

I suppose I should mention why I was in New York right after the new year. Twenty one has been quite the exhilarating year for me in both good and bad. I have never felt more alone and more at peace with my solitude. Even as I found myself, I also found a new relationship with my mother and father. Leaving home makes you appreciate the leisure of life. 

HaasNewYork

For Christmas this year I was enticed to do something special that all three of us could share together. Finding the time to create memories with your family grows harder when you become older. So I booked us a night to New York. My father, who is actually my step father & one of the most wonderful men to grace this world, has always been a ginormous New York Jets Fan. All of his friends from our area give him such a hard time as to why he isn't a Buffalo Bills fan. He had never been to a game at the stadium in Jersey and by luck they just happened to be playing the Bills that day. Granted, it was the end of the season so the win didn't matter, but when the Jets beat the Bills, we all couldn't help but smile. 

HaasNewYork
HaasNewYork

Going to New York was something my mother always did at least every two years when I was younger. She slowly stopped and her & I had been day dreaming about going for over a year now. She gets the atmosphere of New York. The constant motivation to work and do more than thrive. Seeing her laugh and hold hand with my dad in the city was just one of those moments you save forever in your brain. 

As I mentioned before, as I child I got to experience New York and I instantly fell in love. I think I was always a weird little creature searching for something to belong to & the beautiful thing about cities is they attract people of all sorts. My soul feels so full when I see someone living out their own best life. No one to stop them or take away their opportunity. 

New York has been that sanctuary for the unique, the crazy, the hopeful, the hardworking. You can still see it today. The best part about this trip was all of the wandering we did to find random hidden treasures. One of them was a dark, cozy gastropub buried in The Wall Street district. Warm wood lined the ceiling, floors, and tables. You could smell the hoppy beer pouring out of the taps & the delicious fryer oil fumes from which came housemade bacon cheese onion rings. We had spoken to three girls who were waitress and each one of them accompanied a different accent. 

The next morning, there were men lining the pathways of battery park looking to sell some small trinkets of New York who had thick Middle Eastern accents. We ate lunch at a dive bar who's walls were plastered with service men's, police, firemen, military, badges from all across the country. We hoped in the car and drove over the Brooklyn bridge to Cobble Hill where we spent the remainder of our time browsing all of the unusual shops. Each store carried an individual expression of design. Brooklyn was probably the most special place for me. I could forecast myself living there quite easily. 

HaasNewYork

Spending the first few days of this new year in New York gave me even more understanding of who I am. I have a tendency to forget just how young I am and how much I have accomplished. The problem is that it is never enough. I'm always drowning myself in the need to find more goals and see them through. Overwhelming my mind and schedule leads to nowhere. Hence why it has been months since I've posted. This year will be different. This year I will continue to grow and maybe I don't have some large goal ahead of me, but small goals are just as good for they lead to larger things. 

If you're still reading this, welcome back. I have missed you dearly. To us in this remarkable new year. 

NYC 6.jpg
HaasNewYork
HaasNewYork

SWEET LIFE

Vegan Orange Cinnamon Rolls with Rosewater Frosting

Ingredients:

// Dough //

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon of maple sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  • 1 orange, zest

// Filling //

  • 3/4 cup of pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of vegan butter or shortening

// Frosting //

  • 3 teaspoons of almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons of orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of rose water
  • 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar

Steps:

  1. Mix the yeast, almond milk, hot water, and maple sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to bloom. While waiting, begin stirring the flour, baking powder, sea salt together in a separate larger bowl.
  2. After the yeast has finished, mix in the orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and maple syrup. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined. When you can no longer mix with the spoon, place the dough out on a floured surface. Knead the dough until the dough is no longer sticky and is stretchy. 
  3. Coat the bowl with a small amount of flour and place the dough back in it. Leave in a warm place and allow to raise for 45 minutes. 
  4. During that time, you can mix all of the filling ingredients together in 
HaasVeganCinnamonRoll
HaasVeganCinnamonRoll

THE FLAVOR OF LIFE: HAPPY ANNIVERSAR

Hello again. 

Oh yes, my loves.

Today marks the one year anniversary of my adventure with Haas of Rachel.

It makes no sense to act as though it isn't obvious. I haven't posted in months. The last six months were a blinding swirl of immense joy full of achievement, launches, and love. But I am sad to say it has been as equally etched with darkness. Like many in their twenties, I have undergone a lot of beneficial pain and I continue to flourish even in minuscule amounts of light.

So what exactly do all of these fancy pretentious tales about my year mean?

Allow me.

oneyearhaas

For one it means I have moved. Yes, this little woman decided rather than spend all of her money on Jim's Steakout, a Buffalo treasure, at 2am with her friends, she would save her money & rent an adorable 650 square feet studio in the city. I have been challenging my creative aura for interior decorating, pulling pieces from loved ones, Home Goods, thrift shops, and putting to use the 7 totes of things I had been accumulating to move out with. It is a wild experience moving out. One I am looking forward to for the next year. 

oneyearhaas

How do I afford my charming city coop? In May, I received an opportunity to be the Sous Chef at a famous, ancient club in Buffalo. I may not be practicing my sous vide or molecular gastronomy cooking skills, but the coworkers & remarkable time off make it exponentially worth it. I am honing in & establishes my grounds in Buffalo.

oneyearhaas

It is onerous to lose a human connection. To think of all the magnificent ways our beings collide to rev our feelings into infinite places. Sometimes it just gets lost in translation and what was, no longer can be. The poetry of heartbreak is still one I am learning to recite. It isn't always hard, but it sure as hell is never easy. Love always remains.

oneyearhaas

Two thousand sixteen has sprinkled bread down a path I never thought much of, spirituality. Not the organized religion kind. One that forces me to realize facts from NASA like humans are made from the same chemical make up of water as asteroids and my throat Chakra has been closed off recently because I haven't been amusing a creative outlet. All of these visions & thoughts about the universe have allowed me to be in such a state of positivity and confidence.

oneyearhaas

The waves named friends & family have washed over me this year unlike any other. Somehow I found this brilliant glow of a different love. Multiple types of love, actually. Seeing each one of my family members grow in their own way has given me more fascination in the constant renewal of life.

oneyearhaas

In 2013, I was utterly addicted to music. I had almost felt as though I could heal all of my tangled problems with a simple playlist. Curating a collection of songs to emphasize my soul has since been a passion, especially as of late. Anytime I'm alone whether it be cooking in my apartment, walking to the train or laying down for rest, music is surrounding me.

oneyearhaas

So where does all of this leave you & I?

Myself and Haas of Rachel?

It leads us into a future together. I wouldn't call it marriage, but perhaps scheduled visitation. You can see a new post from me every Sunday at noon EST. Maybe if we get lucky I will pop in for a surprise during the week.

For the month of October, I am going to be running an autumnal series on the blog. Each Sunday you can expect a new fall baking recipe! Some simple, some delicately designed.

I hope you are excited for this new adventure just as much as me. 

xx Rachel

THE BASE OF GOODNES

The Perfect Vegetable Stock

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup of onions 
  • 1/2 cup of celery
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms (any variety)
  • 1/2 cup of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup of butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup of fresh spinach
  • 1/8 cup of green onions
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 cup of parsley

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400'F. Chop all of your veggies into medium sized chunks. You want them to be roughly the same size. Toss them in a large bowl with the tomato paste and olive oil.
  2. Lay the vegetables flat on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
  3. After roasting, scoop the veggies into a large stock pot. Pour the water over top and turn the heat to medium high. Allow the stock to come a boil, then reduce to a medium low. Simmer the mixture with the peppercorns, salt, and parsley until reduced by half.
  4. Once reduced, strain the stock through cheese cloth into a large bowl. You should be left with a clear liquid that isn't cloudy. You can save this for up to 2 weeks refrigerated and 1 year frozen.
HaasVegStock

SPRING PARTY FALAFEL SLIDERS

As of late, I have been super obsessed with Mediterranean food. When I was about 4, my mom took over a Greek diner from this elderly couple who had came right off the boat from Greece. My mom had waitressed there for many years and one day they told her they were getting ready to sell the place to settle down for retirement. My mom decided to buy the place from them & make it her own.

Mediterranean cuisine has been in my blood since then and I couldn't resist creating a Vegan Sandwich out the whole falafel scene. Falafel is only a recent lover of mine, but how can you not love a good substitute for meat that has more flavor and nutrients? This recipe for Falafel hits all of the notes, spicy, sweet, acidic. It has become a weekly must for me to make! As Spring approaches, I know you are going to be looking for party recipes. It is so hard to have something available for everyone with lifestyles, allergies, and preferences. I am sure these sliders will please more people than you know! The best vegan recipes are the ones that don't even seem vegan! Give this one a try and let me know how it goes in the comments!

HaasFalafelSliders

Vegan Falafel Sliders with Citrus Veggies & Avocado Mousse

Makes 6 sliders

Ingredients:

// Falafel //

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of raw walnuts
  • 15 ounces of garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of jalapeno pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan honey or agave 
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or grape seed oil

// Avocado Mousse //

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh dill

// Citrus Veggies & Bun //

  • 1 small cucumber or a 3 inch chunk of a cucumber
  • 1 vine ripen tomato
  • 4 ounces of spring mix lettuce
  • 1 orange
  • 4 ounces of unpitted & sliced Kalamata Olives 
  • 6 small whole wheat pita

Steps:

  1. In a large food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts and garlic cloves for a few seconds to slightly break them up. Add in the garbanzo beans, cilantro, seasonings, vegan sweetener, lemon juice & zest and coconut flour. Pulse the mixture until it turns into a coarse paste. You want to still see small chunks, but nothing too large. 
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, or large saute pan, pour the oil. Melt the oil and warm it up over medium high heat. During this time, take approxiametly 2 tablespoons of the falafel mixture and form patties. Begin by rolling the mix into a ball and flattening it to about 3/4 inch thickness. It should hold the shape nicely, if not, add a small amount of more flour.
  3. Place the patties in the pan and begin frying them. About 4 to 5 minutes on each side. 
  4. In a small food processor or blender, throw all the avocado mousse ingredients in. Blend until super creamy and airy. You want it to be similar to mayonnaise consistency. Set aside in small bowl in the fridge.
  5. For the veggies, take a peeler and slice the cucumber into very thin slices, avoiding the seeds. Lay the cucumber slices on a paper towel and squeeze some orange juice onto them. The tomato can just be sliced into 1/8 inch slices.
  6. When you are ready to assemble, cut the pita in half. This is easiest done if the pita is slightly war. Smear some avocado mousse on both sides of the pita. Add the olives to one side and press down gently to be sure they stick to the mousse. On the other side, lay the falafel patty and top with the tomato, cucumber, and lettuce. Flip the olive pita half on top and secure with a tooth pick! These are best served warm. 

 

HaasFalafelSliders

ROASTED PESTO CHICKEN

One of the most comforting meals in the world may be roasted chicken. It could be that it has that sweet poultry taste of Thanksgiving or the crispy skin that melts in your mouth on command. I am taking the traditional roasted chicken and giving it a spin that makes it even better. Yes, even better.

Pesto is the perfect marinade for anything really. I love green sauces that combine the flavors of herbs, spices, citrus, and garlic on meat because they bring out the sweetness you wouldn't guess was there. Pesto is one of my favorite things to make because of how quickly it can be blitzed up. I didn't include recipes for sides because I figured I'd leave that up to you. Take my recipe and pair it with your own or someone else's! I chose to whip up some honey & cinnamon sweet potato mash. Very simple & delicious which is great!

HaasPestoChicken

Pesto Roasted Chicken

// Pesto //

  • 1/4 cup of basil
  • 1/2 cup of spinach
  • 1 ounce of green onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

// Chicken //

  • 1 whole chicken 
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 450'F. 
  2. Prep your chicken by removing the packaging and giblets from the cavity. Pat down with paper towels inside & out to get rid of any excess moisture. Trim off extra fat & skin using a boning knife.
  3. Rub the bird with olive oil making sure to coat all sides. Repeat the same process with two thirds of the pesto. Be sure to liberally coat the breast, wing, and thigh areas with the pesto. Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt & fresh cracked pepper. 
  4. Place the chicken in the oven to bake. I cannot give you an exact time as each chicken is sized differently. A good rule to follow is 1 hour baking time per 2 pounds, but always check the temperature of chicken using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature must read 165'F for 15 seconds in order to be fully cooked and safe for eating.
  5. 10 minutes before the chicken is finished, brush it with the remaining pesto and pop back in the oven.
  6. When the chicken is done, allow to cook for about 10 minutes before slicing. If you are someone who has trouble fabricating whole birds, this video should help!
HaasPestoChicken
HaasPestoChicken

ALOHA SPRING!

I can still conquer up the memory of my first creme brulee. That bordering sweetness with a luscious cream center and hot sugar glass like crust has kept me hooked for years. Unfortunately though, it can be one of the more expensive desserts to order at a restaurant. I think for the price, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to make. You really do not even need to purchase a fancy, professional torch. You can use your at home broiler setting on your oven.

Keeping with the Spring Time theme I have developed on Haas of Rachel over the course of the last couple of weeks, I wanted to flavor this creme brulee in a light fashion. Typically, creme brulee can be heavy and too rich, but when I was searching my fridge for the chosen one, pineapple stood out to me. Nothing defines Summer & Spring for me quite like pineapple. It is so refreshing on the palate and has a great acidity that balances the sweetness well. I also have been playing around with different garnishes & when I saw these edible flowers, I was certainly excited. You would be surprised how delicate flowers taste. 

CremeBrulee

Pineapple Creme Brulee with Edible Flowers

Serves: 6 small portions

Time: 4 hours

Ingredients:

// Pineapple Puree //

  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey

// Creme Brulee //

  • 1/2 quart of heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod
  • 1/2 cup of puree 
  • 1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar

Steps:

  1. Place the pineapple puree ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth and silky. There will be some small chunks of pineapple meat, but it should be pureed into a complete liquid. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Over medium heat in a medium stock pot, warm half of the heavy cream with the vanilla bean pod until it begins to steam.
  3. While you wait, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until it becomes lighter in color and emulsified. It should get creamy as you continue to whisk. This should take approxiametly 5 to 7 minutes. 
  4. Once the heavy cream is hot, cover and allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes. At this point you can preheat the oven to 325'F.
  5. After the 15 minutes are up, slowly stir in the remaining cold heavy cream into the hot heavy cream. This should lower the temperature enough not to scramble the egg yolks. Once all the cream is mixed, add the cream to the eggs in 3 additions. 
  6. If you think your mixture needs to be strained, strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl or measuring cup you can pour out of.
  7. Lay the ramekins onto a baking dish or tray that will be holding the water for steaming. 
  8. Portion the cream out into the ramekins evenly. Scoop teaspoon amounts of pineapple puree into the top of the cream until it is all used up. Finally, pour about 1 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish. The water should reach half way up the ramekin. Do not get any water in the creme brulee or it will not set properly.
  9. Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of your ramekins. You can check the process by gently shaking the pan. The finished product should hold its form. Allow to cool for 2 hours when done.
  10. Before serving, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of each creme brulee. Using a torch, melt the sugar until a crust forms that is golden brown. Using a broiler, place the oven rack at the top of the oven. Set the broiler to high and allow to heat up. Once hot, carefully place a ramekin on a sheet tray and slide under the fire. Watch the sugar as it melts. Be cautious not to burn it! 
  11. Garnish the creme brulee with whipped cream and edible flowers! Enjoy your fancy french dessert! 

CHIPS & DIP

Healthy chips & dip? Could it be possible? Of course it can. Homemade sweet potato chips and roasted garlic cilantro hummus are a perfect pairing. In spring we should really be making all the effort we can to eat healthy, but we can still celebrate days like National Chips & Dip Day! The chips are extremely simple to make. You can even use a knife to slice them thinly. They crisp up super well in the oven, as long as you follow along carefully! I try not to use oil if it is not needed. I have found replacing the olive oil with water works just as well to create perfectly creamy hummus. Give this recipe a try to tame those chips & dip cravings!

ChipsDip

Roasted Garlic, Cilantro Hummus with Cajun Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients:

// Dip //

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

// Chips //

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400'F
  2. Take the 3 cloves of garlic & wrap them in tin foil by simply placing them in the middle and pushing the sides up. Pinch to close. Roast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Wash the sweet potatoes under cold water. Using a knife or a mandolin slicer, slice the sweet potato into very thin rounds, approxiametly 1/8 of an inch. Once all of the chips are sliced, place them into a large bowl. Mix them with the oil and Cajun seasoning until they are evenly coated. 
  4. Lay the slices on to a parchment lined sheet tray in a single layer. Do not overlap the chips as they will bake unevenly. Bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You have to flip half way through the cooking process. Be sure to watch the chips so that they do not burn.
  5. While the chips are baking, you can begin making the hummus. Wash your can of garbanzo beans until completely clean of the soapy liquid. Place them in a food processor with the roasted garlic, pepper, salt, cumin, cilantro, raw honey, & water. Process until smooth and creamy. You may need to scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Scoop the hummus out into an air tight container and place it in the fridge.
  6. Once the chips are done, allow them to cool. If you plan on saving this snack for later, do not cover them in a container. They will get soggy. You can put them in a brown paper bag.
  7. Serve the hummus cold next to your delicious Cajun chips! You will be surprised how flavorful this snack truly is!