Chai Spice Baked Apples - Easy Recipe

Chai Spice Baked Apples

Easy holiday recipe - no rolling pins necessary!

chai spiced baked apples


3 Eggs 
1 cup Milk 
6 tablespoons Butter 
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
2/3 cup Flour 
¼ cup Sugar 
½ teaspoon Salt 
4 large Tart Apples, peeled, cored and segmented 
3 tablespoons Sugar 
1 ½ teaspoons Chai Spice (recipe follows)


  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, 4 tablespoons of butter (melted), vanilla.  
    Add flour, sugar, salt and mix well.  
  2. Heat a heavy skillet and melt the remaining  2 tablespoons butter.  
    Add the apples and 2.5 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and saute.  
    OPTIONAL: add ½ teaspoon of Chai Spice mix to apple saute. 
  3. Butter the pie pan. Pour half the batter into the pan.  
    Arrange sautéed apples in a spiral atop the batter (reserve the apple saute juices).  
    Pour remaining batter over the apples; pour the apple juices over the top.  
    Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of Chai Spice mix over the top.  
  4. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

Chai Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon ground Cardamom 
1/2 teaspoon ground Allspice 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Vietnamese Cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Ginger 
1/2 teaspoon ground Tellicherry Black Pepper 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Nutmeg (optional)

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
597 Hits

Delicious and Easy Mussels Provencal Recipe

Mussels -they build muscles 💪🏻💪🏻💥 and are so underrated. This is your 💰 saving seafood choice! They are widely available and incredibly rich in protein, iron and vitamin B-12 - all of which are essential for building strength 🏋️‍♀️ and boosting energy levels. 🤾‍♂️
They're also delicious and super easy to prepare. Don't be intimidated by mussels! Start with this popular recipe from our Teen Battle Chef program! 
Mussels Provencal on a white plate with a slice of crusty bread

Mussels Provencal
Recipe by Lynn Fredericks

Prep Time: 15 minutes  Cook Time: 25 minutes  Makes: 4 appetizer portions or 2 entree

3 pounds Mussels
1 Onion, medium
3 cloves Garlic, fresh
¼ cup Olive Oil
1/3 cup White Wine
1/3 cup Chicken Broth
10 sprigs Italian Parsley, fresh
1 bulb Fennel, fresh 
¼ teaspoon Saffron (optional)
3 tablespoons Butter (optional) 
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Hot Pepper Flakes (optional) 
1 pound Pasta – linguine, capellini, etc. (pre-cooked)

1. RINSE the mussels under running water, and CHECK for the “barb” or stringing ends coming out of the closed mussel. PULL these firmly, REMOVE, and DISCARD.
2. CHOP the onion finely.
3. Chop the garlic finely.
4. In a large pot, HEAT the olive oil.
5. ADD the chopped onions and garlic, and REDUCE heat to low. COOK for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent.
6. ADD the mussels, and INCREASE the heat to medium high.
7. ADD the wine, and COOK 3 minutes.
8. ADD the chicken broth, and PLACE the lid over the pot. COOK for 6-8 minutes, or until all the shells have opened widely.
9. While the mussels are cooking, SLICE the fennel.
10. REMOVE the leaves from the parsley sprigs, and CHOP the leaves.
11. When the mussels are done, ADD the seasonings and the sliced fennel then CLOSE the lid. COOK for 3 minutes.
12. Now, DRAIN the liquid into a small saucepan.
13. HEAT the liquid in the saucepan, and ADD 3 T butter (optional). REDUCE heat to two thirds.
14. SERVE the mussels over the hot pasta, and POUR the thickened sauce over the top.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
717 Hits

Canarsie Food Revolution Engages Residents & Youth

By Teen Battle Chef High School Students Elizabeth Cordero-Hernandez, Joel Allette, and Lorenzo Gallese

Take the L train to the last stop in Brooklyn and you will find yourself in Canarsie. Formerly an Italian and Jewish enclave, it is now home to immigrants hailing from Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and South America. While some outer borough neighborhoods have seen exciting changes where new influxes ofpeople have created food, shopping and entertainment destinations, Canarsie by contrast has mostly seen little industry and poorer residents.  As mom and pop businesses including larger supermarket chains have left the neighborhood; there has been a devastating effect on access to healthy food.  Yes, Canarsie is a ‘food desert’ if you define the term as having few if any places to purchase a variety of fresh produce, whole grains, sustainably-raised meats and poultry and healthful snack options.

poster pics

In 2012 the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council (ADADC) contracted Karp Resources to identify youth programs to engage in a ‘corner store makeover’ project. The idea was a youth-led project fueled with their energy, creativity and familiarity with their own community.  FamilyCook Productions’s Teen Battle Chef program in HealthCorps schools in NYC was identified as a collaborator due to the high level of cooking skill and nutrition knowledge students in their programs gain, and the value of working within a national network of schools through HealthCorps.

FamilyCook and HealthCorps recommended Academy for Conservation and the Environment on the South Shore High School campus in Canarsie and their Coordinator, Courtland “C.K.” Kouassiaman, who delivered the HealthCorps program that includes Teen Battle Chef (TBC).  From there, FCP recruited us  - TBC Alumni who had previously been in the program in a HealthCorps school, to serve as mentors and role models to new TBC students at C.K.’s school.  So that’s how it happened that myself and Teen Battle Chef Alums Joel Allette and Lorenzo Gallese helped to jumpstart the project that the ACE students named the “Canarsie  Health Revolution” over the winter and spring of 2013.

Essentially it was a community outreach project to help the people of Canarsie, Brooklyn to see that there are more to snacks than potato chips.  The project involved weekly meetings among the following key players: FamilyCook’s Youth Development Associate David Bartolomi and we three above-mentions TBC Alums, Karp Resources youth specialist Adam Liebowitz; C.K. the HealthCorps Coordinator at ACE and his TBC students.  First we met with a similar team of youth in Williamsburg who were from Ecostation at an ADADC sponsored launch and we met some key players like Victor Lopes who would help the corner stores from a sourcing and merchandising perspective.  We also learned about their “Fuel Up to Play 60” campaign that communicates the connection between healthy food and being active to youth.


The goal was not to change the store but to simply embrace options whether it was moving items to the front or to just put stickers indicating the healthy options.  The TBC students also contributed ideas to new signage and ads for the project; they were photographed holding some of the healthy items for the ad campaign.

I have to say that our strategies of handing out small containers of yogurt, samples of our ‘Canarsie Special’ sandwich, and smoothies in front of the corner stores we worked with was fun and made all of us feel a bit like ‘rock stars’!  People were not used to seeing teenagers as the messengers for health in their community and they were very polite to us and attentive. They also loved our food.  By summer’s end, we had exciting positive feedback from the store owners, especially Orlando, who described how the project seemed to encourage customers to ask him to stock specific items like organic eggs. When he did, he sold out!  Clearly an empowerment among the community to ask for what they want is being fostered.  Shoppers outside of the supermarket where we were stationed always asked us when we would be coming back. The consistency of the day helped bring them back to do their weekly shopping when our team would be outside with samples of healthy food options available. We began to see repeat customers, which was very exciting.

More importantly, the community came to see us as a knowledgeable culinary resource; they began looking to us to demonstrate healthy meals they could cook from food available at the store. You could say that from healthy snack focus turned into a full blown ‘shopping makeover’ opportunity with our TBCs being asked for recipe suggestions for things like veggies and fish, which we would write down the recipe and ingredients and then they would shop for them!

In addition to these observations, we also conducted surveys of the residents and learned that all the people surveyed were interested in buying healthier options whether they knew they were there beforehand or not and they were willing to pay for them – average of $5 for healthier snacks which, as students, we thought was a lot of money and kind of surprising!  We also learned that they were quite knowledgeable about the foods that support their health – whole grains, beans, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, organic and/or lean meats – came up over and over again in our survey about what items they would like to see available.  If people are informed enough to know the good options, then it seems only fair that they are available for them to buy.

All in all, it was exciting to be a part of this project – we all felt that we had a real impact on the residents of Canarsie and that our efforts were appreciated. We are excited to see if there are other indicators like sales data that will support our affirmation that our efforts were effective. Based on our own research and the faces of the TBC youth and their ‘customers’ outside the stores, this was a successful project worth examining for its future potential, especially building onto similar projects that our NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene have been conducting.  

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
6320 Hits

Teen Battle Chefs take on Thai recipe concepts

TBC Blog Picture

Every summer, FamilyCook offers an opportunity for a couple dozen inner city teenagers to have a part-time paid job teaching others to cook healthy meals.  Through Teen Battle Chef, these students learned to cook in their high schools and were nominated for our Summer Leadership Brigade by their TBC instructors from our partner organizations such as HealthCorps


I developed Teen Battle Chef 10 years ago to inspire teenagers to find their path to a healthier lifestyle. Through our innovative formula employing time limits and weekly competitions, teens develop a preference to prepare their own snacks and meals using fresh ingredients. Seeing this transformation, we then took the program to the next level by exploring the teens’ capacity to influence their families and friends. With that success, the program’s scope now includes internships and job opportunities for these youths to teach others in their community.


We match them to such jobs as teaching younger children to cook and conducting cooking demos in farmers markets, among other roles. Each Tuesday, the whole group meets at a central location for a mentoring session or field trip. This week, we took them into new territory with Thai cuisine!  One of our new dietetic interns (Pamela Wachrathit) is Thai and was excited to participate to be our authenticity guide for our cooking session.  The TBC Alumni Mentors, who organized and co-facilitated the three- hour session, were thrilled at the results!

TBC Thai collage1



On the menu were three delicious Thai recipes:  Green Papaya Salad; Lettuce Leaf Wrap Appetizers, and Sticky Rice with Coconut and Mango.  According to our Teen Battle Chef Alumni Mentors (who just a few months back were learning to be TBCs in their own high schools), they were most surprised by the TBC students’ willingness to try all the unusual ingredients, such as dried shrimp which were, according to Mentor Liz Cordero, ‘pretty shrimpy and salty’ tasting.  TBC Mentor Joel Allette was surprised that tutoring the kids on deveining shrimp moved along so speedily and successfully.



Apparently some of the ‘newness’ for the teens resulted at times in downright hilarity.  When pressed to give examples, they unanimously agreed upon the moment when TBC Cheyanne reacted to the lettuce leaf wraps, which had chili rounds, pickled garlic, ginger, herbs, coconut, peanuts etc. inside.  They laughed uncontrollably as they described how she was so shocked by the chili spice that hit her palate first, she ‘tried to suck in all the air in the room’ to compensate for the spices. Equally funny, they shared, was the reaction to the opening of the jar of shrimp paste which, Joel assured me, made the entire room smell like Flatbush, Brooklyn on a 100 degree day.  



Of course the entire experience of working with youth (even if you’re one of our Mentors, one of which is still a high school student, albeit a very accomplished one) is chock full of proud and satisfying moments.  Dante Mena our amazing musician chef, shared with me that his most gratifying moment was when the students tasted their Thai creations and ‘begged for 2nds, 3rds, and even 4ths!”  For Liz, she most appreciated seeing them ‘eat something totally foreign’ and expect to like it!


Teaching Moments:

Beyond the introduction of new recipes teaming with fresh ingredients, the other purpose of the day was to demonstrate how most culture’s recipes are concepts. Once mastered, they can be altered with new seasonal ingredients. This is a very important part of how we teach cooking in FamilyCook programs and it is also described step by step in our book.  According to the TBC mentors, adding some blueberries to the traditional sticky rice and mango was a big hit, as were adding zucchini and radishes to the Thai papaya salad!  Our Thai intern underscored this lesson as she ndescribed how her grandmother made these same dishes with her signature touch.


Photos:  Courtesy David Bartolomi

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
5784 Hits