Cornbread Salad – 18/67

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I have a deep appreciation for a cheeky salad. You know, the kind that consists of no veggies, only pretzels, jello, and dairy products. Never mind the fact I’ve never actually tried one of these cold casserole competitors, I just love the audacity of it. Like, sure, call it a salad, that makes it dinner-appropriate! We don’t need to add any other nasty nutrient bombs! For a celebratory meal, what a genius workaround. 

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This salad is not that. There are no chunks of squishy jello masquerading as the health component, no sad pretzels approaching unfortunately soggy. And there is a whole bell pepper! A tomato and celery stalk! Vegetables aplenty. 

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There is also a whole tray of freshly baked salty sweet cornbread, crumbled up and ready to be doctored. And oh my, is it good.

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This is the kind of dish that I have to remind myself is mostly-carb, not mostly-veggie, because I would easily fill ¾ of a picnic plate with it. I would never remove the salad part from the name, because a) it accompanies other things so well and b) it really does taste fresh. All those small-chopped veggies mean it feels like you’re eating a mouthful of salad, just the sweetest and saltiest mouthful ever. Not a mouthful of cornbread, which is what you’re actually doing. Audacious, bold salad, accompaniment to the stars. 

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Anyway, I’m eternally grateful to Linda, Daniel’s mom, for introducing this one to my repertoire. However it has made its way to you, through CT and Texas and back, I’m happy to proliferate it in Brooklyn. 

one year ago: spanish-ish baked eggs with spinach
two years ago: tapado (caribbean coconut fish stew)
three years ago: spaghetti squash lettuce wraps, asian style
four years ago: mustard greens with oyster sauce and garlic oil
five years ago: tofu banh mi sandwiches

Cornbread Salad

from Daniel’s mom Linda

1 9-inch pan of cornbread, cooled (from 2 boxes of Jiffy mix)
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
½ a red onion, chopped small
1-2 celery ribs, chopped small (optional, but I recommend!)
3-4 jalapenos, partially seeded, chopped small
1 cup mayo
1 big tomato, chopped small

Crumble cornbread into a very big bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and jalapenos. Stiry to combine. Add mayo until just moist — you may not need full cup, or may need a bit extra. Stir in tomatoes last, so as to minimize mush. Refrigerate and serve cold. I added some chopped parsley at the end just to make it look pretty, but ended up liking what it added! 

Leftovers great as is, or pan fried in a little olive oil in little “cakes” with a fried egg on top. 

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Greens on Toast with a Lacy Fried Egg – 17/67

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Do you smell that? The summer heat, fighting in through the window cracks and landing on your skin? It’s some combo of pollen, sweat, musty summer clothes unburied, overheated floors, dusty ACs, melted ice cream, iced everything, sunburn memories. I was brushing my teeth the other night when it swooped in and hit me. It smelled like unfair moments in 3rd grade, when my siblings got window ACs in their rooms, but I didn’t, because I had three windows and could get a good cross breeze. (Time for a reckoning, parents. I’m an adult now and I know a cross breeze doesn’t hold a candle to real, manufactured, cold air. Hmph.) And it’s only June. We have two, long, slumpy, heat-laden, memory-scented months before us here. 

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I don’t hate it. I mean, we have 3 things of ice cream in the freezer right now. That’s a good summer perk. Also, CSA season! My favorite time of year, as you may know if you’ve been a longtime reader. Greens and more greens, and this is only a half-share. Also still taking suggestions for what to do with my half a gigantic kohlrabi. It doesn’t lend itself as easily to breakfast as greens do. 

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This recipe is fairly similar to another eggs and spinach one I’ve blogged before. But this variety you see before you is definitely the version that happens on a more regular basis around here. I’m not sure if it’s noteworthy or bloggable on its own accord, but Hanna said one of her favorite no-recipe meals is a lacy fried egg on greens. So here’s a typical breakfast for me, and it counts as one of my binder recipes, and it uses up a CSA bundle! Win, win, win. 

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one year ago: best kale salad” (as it has goat cheese, dried cherries, and a mustardy vinaigrette that is really, really good)
two years ago: nothing of note, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best use of turnips I’ve encountered yet
three years ago: vaguely Lebanese un-stuffed eggplant
four years ago: roasted beets and their greens with mint sauce (psych! this was also from five years ago!)
five years ago: rhubarb cake

Greens on Toast with a Lacy Fried Egg 

A swanky favorite, inspired by Hanna 

Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 bunch spinach, some stems removed, roughly chopped
Smoked paprika
Juice of ¼-½ a lemon
s&p
3 eggs
toast
Shredded parmesan, hot sauce, fresh parsley 

To make greens: Heat a touch of olive oil in a small pan. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute on low-ish heat, until you can smell the garlic. Add spinach all at once. Sprinkle immediately with a couple dashes of smoked paprika, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper before it wilts. Stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until spinach is lightly wilted.

Meanwhile, make toast. 

I was lazy and wanted to use the spinach pan for the egg too. Be like me! When spinach is wilted to your liking, remove and put directly on your toast or aside for tomorrow morning. (This will make enough for three mornings-worth of breakfast for one person, especially good if your partner dislikes cooked spinach for some reason *eye roll emoji*.) Now make a fried egg. I did this one in too much olive oil, spooning oil over the whites to cook them a bit further. Bon Appetit/Jose Andres and Smitten Kitchen go into more detail about this crispy, lacy egg “phenomenon” (my words, not theirs) if you care about such things. Any fried egg will do. 

Layer toast, spinach, and egg. Sprinkle with parmesan, another glug of good olive oil for good measure, and your fancy sea salt. Hot sauce doesn’t hurt. Parsley is also nice. Mmm. 

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Shrimp and Grits – 16/67

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I’ve always said that I know I still love living in New York because when I get off the plane after a trip, I’m excited to be here. Well my friends, this past arrival is really throwing my brain for a loop. I just had the most magical weekend celebrating my friends’ marriage in Vail, Colorado. Vail is unfairly beautiful. I was there a few years ago for a ski day, but I don’t think the extent of the beauty hit me til this weekend. Snow covered mountains! In June! Trees in every shade of green that literally made me want to take up painting! Glorious aspens, framing a lake, framing a mountain! Adorable old-timey Main Streets. I mean, how is this fair?? NYC doesn’t have any of these things 😦

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Man, weddings are the best. It felt like a band trip or college reunion — all these people I love and who live across the country all of a sudden staying in the same hotel and having a bunch of meals together. Such a treat.

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Meg and Jonny put together a truly beautiful celebration, complete with their ring bearer pup and a rainbow gracing cocktail hour (that part was unplanned). Meg’s Gypsy Kings dance with her dad brought me to giddy tears. We all fell down attempting the lift in the Dirty Dancing song. We enjoyed the effects of open bar + altitude (well, until morning appeared, rudely and painfully). Daniel and I were so glad to bear witness to it all, and also happy we got to sneak in two hikes, some drone activity, an absolutely amazing lunch in town, a brewery visit, and a catch up with an (unrelated) friend while we were out there. Three days well spent. But I could’ve used an extra one or two before returning. It was too brief a flirtation to make me miss home.

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Meg made Daniel and me her version of shrimp and grits forever ago, when we all lived in New York. I remember loving them and being really impressed I didn’t get a stomach ache afterwards. Because usually shrimp and grits are a cream and butter bomb. But not Meg’s version! Hers is full of veggies, lemon juice, and garlic. There’s a little butter and a good handful of parm, which both go a long way, but won’t weigh you down for the rest of the night. And it’s so good, and so quick. I’m in love with this recipe. Apparently Meg’s family adapted it from their local favorite restaurant, Palm Valley Fish Camp, in Jacksonville, Florida. Thank you, Meg and family, for this gift! And for bringing us to the mountains for this joyful weekend. Happy, happy wedded life! 

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four years ago: kale caesar salad – one of my fav salads, which I crave about once a week. And it’s perfect for CSA season!
five years ago (squee! 5! I never even updated that silly background picture that was supposed to be a placeholder!): rhubarb, chickpea, and spinach stew with lemony yogurt sauce

Shrimp and Grits

From Meg, via her family, via Palm Valley Fish Camp

Serves at least 3

1 cup grits (the quick cooking kind)
2-3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup red onion, very finely diced (about half an onion)
⅓ cup red bell pepper, very finely diced (about half a pepper)
1 stalk celery, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, very finely diced
1ish pound of jumbo shrimp, cleansed and shells removed (about 2 cups)
1 big tomato, seeded and very finely diced
2-3 tablespoons very finely chopped parsley + extra to garnish
Juice from 1 lemon
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and white pepper (Meg’s recipe called for Penzey’s White Sarawak Pepper, but I used the grocery store brand I had around, and use black pepper if that’s what you’ve got)
Hot sauce

Cook grits according to package directions. This should entail something like — bring a bunch of water to a boil. Add grits and a bit of salt, turn heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grits are creamy, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoonish of butter and cover. (Meg’s recipe said to use smart balance, but I didn’t want to buy it for just this. Butter was, as you can guess, delicious.)

In a big pan (we used our Le Creuset braiser), melt 1 tablespoonish of butter with the olive oil. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook for 4-8 minutes, or until veggies have softened. Add shrimp, tomatoes, parsley, and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook until shrimp are done, about 4 minutes. Liquid should have evaporated a bit. Stir in lemon juice. Take pan off heat and stir in parmesan. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Spoon grits into a bowl, top with shrimp and sauce, and decorate with extra parsley and hot sauce. What a dinner.

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Blueberry Afternoon Snack Soup – 15/67

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So I quite liked this recipe, but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around when it’s appropriate to eat. It was introduced to me as a soup. But when I hear “soup”, I think savory, and savory this is not.

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So I guess it could be dessert soup? But I’m not sure that’s a real thing, and anyway this isn’t quite indulgent enough to count as a true dessert. Counterpoint — fondue. Fondue is like chocolate dessert soup. Hm. Maybe this is like blueberry fondue? I do think it would be nice with some shortcake “croutons” or a skewered marshmallow cutting through a fountain of it, but I still don’t think dessert is the right category.

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After I decided it didn’t accompany the pasta salad I planned to serve it with as dinner, I added some chia seeds and let it sit overnight. And it thickened slightly to create a psuedo-chia pudding, which apparently is an appropriate breakfast food! So maybe this is breakfast? It’s still pretty sweet, but so are pancakes and waffles. Eh, I’m more of a toast and eggs kinda gal for breakfast. Okay, so perhaps not breakfast.

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I think I’m landing on a refreshing afternoon snack. Especially when topped with extra berries and a little batch of lemon cream (from this cake a week or two back) and a couple indulgent chocolate curls. I’m pro-chia seeds regardless. That’s a fun texture. I happily ate a little bowl of this everyday this week after work and before I started thinking about dinner. So yeah, afternoon snack it is. I hope you make and figure out where in your life it fits in.

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one year ago: nothing of note but want to hear about my recent breakfast discovery? Whole wheat sourdough toast with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh mozzarella, strawberries, basil, and flaky salt. Heck yes.
two years ago: nothing of note, but I recently made this tomato egg noodle soup (with added CSA greens) for dinner and it was just like in China and I want to make it all the time.
three years ago: rice noodle salad with carrot ginger dressing
four years ago: tatsoi and tofu stir fry with soba – I have a bundle of tatsoi in the fridge now, waiting to be put to use in this recipe!

Blueberry Afternoon Snack Soup

from my Aunt Beth A

1 pint blueberries + extra for topping
2 cups water
¼-½ cup sugar (the lesser works just fine!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup yogurt
mint, shredded

Chia seeds
Lemon cream
Chocolate curls

In a medium pot, combine blueberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until blueberries start to fall apart. Remove from heat and cool a bit.

Pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Put in fridge and chill until cold. Stir in yogurt until no clumps remain. Serve in small bowls, topped with fresh mint. 

If you’d like, add in a tablespoon or so chia seeds per serving and let sit overnight. Eat the next afternoon with lemon cream, extra berries, chocolate curls, a swirl of yogurt, and/or more fresh mint.

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Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower – 14/67

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a night by myself (weekday version)

Come home from work, fight with Alexa to turn Brandi Carlile on
Leisurely wash kale, leaf by leaf
Spend a while perfectly julienning a red bell pepper
Hover by the stove while the water comes to a boil for gnocchi
No rushing, all peaceful, purposeful knife work
No measuring, just glugs and sprinkles and dashes
My kind of meditation.

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Watch an episode of chef’s table or something else food porn-y.
Ravish a bowl of salty buttery carbs AND a big old green salad.
Balance.

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Force Daniel to eat leftovers when he comes home at 10pm because I really don’t think this will reheat well the next day.
(He obliged, but we still had leftovers)
(They were fine, but coulda used some additional brightness on Day 2)

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~~~
Here’s the recipe for that bowl of salty buttery carbs. In a rare move, I made the cauliflower too salty (and couldn’t blame Daniel). Be aware that each part of this dish is salted, so don’t go too heavy handed on any one part. I’m really excited about this easy, filling, quick dinner. A good one to keep in your back pocket.

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some good kale salads from the archives: kale, sumac, and crispy rice salad, honey mustardy goat cheese kale salad, miso ginger kale salad, kale caesar salad, mustardy kale, potato, and green bean salad. Wow, I’ve posted a lot of kale salads. The version I made myself this particular evening had massaged leaves, julienned sugar snap peas, blistered red peppers, and scallions with a basic vinaigrette.

Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower

thanks to Aunt Ingrid for this one, who can always be depended on for a yummy recipe

Olive oil
Coarse salt
1 big head cauliflower, in medium florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant cup panko
1 pound gnocchi
1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Combine cauliflower, a couple glugs of olive oil, and some pinches of coarse salt. Place on a single layer on a tray (or two). Roast until brown, flipping occasionally. For me this took 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up another tablespoon or so of olive oil in a big saucepan. Add garlic cloves on low heat. Cook until you can smell them, about 1 minute. Add panko and a sprinkle of salt and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook until panko is evenly browned and toasty, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.

When cauliflower has about 15 minutes left, start heating up a big pot of water. When it’s boiling, add a big pinch of salt and your gnocchi and cook according to package. (I cooked mine til they floated to the top of the pot, about 4 minutes.) Drain.

Melt butter in the saucepan you used for panko. Add gnocchi and cook til browned, stirring frequently. This will take a couple minutes tops.

Serve with gnocchi on the bottom of your bowl, followed by cauliflower, followed by a shower of garlicky panko crumbs. A green salad is a great accompaniment.

 

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chips Muffins – 13/67

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Picnic season! These adorable, healthyish strawberry muffins were the perfect fruity pop to add to a spread. Although I can’t say they were the first thing gone, as they had to compete with tiramisu and two other cakes. Is that peak Brooklyn? Homemade tiramisu at a picnic? Or maybe it was 7+ things of hummus. If you have a picnic in Prospect Park and there aren’t at least half as many hummus tubs as people, did it even happen??

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And I’m just going to let these pictures speak for themselves today. We broke out the real camera and gave these ruby spring babies a true photo shoot! Mmm.

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Some Notes — I tried to follow the recipe exactly but I kept adding and changing. The recipe below is as it was given to me. Here’s how I modified —

  • Added a pinch or two of salt with dry ingredients. Go for it.
  • Subbed in about ¼ cup of whole wheat flour. This really made it taste healthy. Use at your own risk.
  • I added some crumbled freeze dried strawberries at the end to half the batch. Definitely not worth it. Muddled the yummy fresh strawberry flavor.
  • I sprinkled half the batch with demerera sugar before baking. It did not caramelize the top or add any extra crunch. Wrong batter, wrong oven temp (I guess). Don’t do this.
  • Instead of using all applesauce, I used one of those little cup things and used melted coconut oil for the rest. I think this was fine.
  • I used a whole egg, not just the white. Felt wasteful to just toss the yolk. I think this was fine too.
  • These are on the moist side, and get moister overnight. I recommend toasting or eating on Day 1.

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Four years ago: black bean, mango, corn salad-alsa — another great picnic idea

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

From my friend Katie – thanks! 

1 ¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 egg white, beaten
⅔ cup diced strawberries
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 350F. Set out 10 muffin liners in a muffin pan and spray with nonstick spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a big bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar, and applesauce until there are no clumps remaining. Whisk in the egg white.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overmix! Gently fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanish (there are a lot of chocolate pockets — don’t let this fool you.)

Best day of, but can keep in an airtight container on the counter for a couple days.

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Simple Lemon Berry Cake with Lemon Cream – 12/67

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The past weekend has felt approximately two weeks long. I feel like I just need to document it all so I remember in 20 years what a lazy “stay at home” long weekend was like right before I turned 30. Thanks for joining me for this xanga entry! 

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Friday – Went to grocery store, casually made this cake for tomorrow’s BBQ, meandered to local bookstore and ended up with a copy of Indian-ish which I cannot WAIT to cook from, met friends at a bar and bragged about my new cookbook. Then came home and made a riff on this soba tofu bowl for a dear friend who came over for dinner. After she left, friend from Boston arrived to stay the weekend. Late night catch-up ensued.

IMG_036586F1A670-F948-441E-A6A3-98C406F06CD6Saturday – Coffee and bagels, then a yoga class. Don’t recommend that order. Took ferry(!) to Astoria for lovely rooftop soiree. Brought cake, with frosting in its own refrigerator bag. Not the easiest cake to travel with, but definitely not the worst. Ate my weight in salads and dips and veggie burger (just one, to the chagrin of the hosting couple who are now left with three mediocre frozen patties). Left BBQ early to rush to BAM for a DanceAfrica performance that blew my mind. Home for frozen watermelon drinks and another late night.

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Sunday – brunch and omg this weekend is killing me. How do people maintain this lifestyle? Ask questions later! Let’s go into the city! For Chinatown noodles, a crowded salsa bar, and cocktails around the corner. Another late night.

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Monady – byyye friend, have a safe drive, and oh shit we’re supposed to bring things to a BBQ. I didn’t prepare cake in advance, dang. Whipped together this really delicious artichoke white bean dip (but parsley instead of basil because I thought it went better) and Ottolenghi’s gingery cucumber salad from Plenty, which I thought would complement the various izakaya-style organ meats being grilled. (I cannot attest to its success in doing that, but it was mostly consumed, so I’ll consider it a success.) Then I fell into a stupor on our couch.

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I’m exhausted. And now I go to work. xo, gossip girl.

IMG_2118IMG_2120A couple things about this cake — this is a really easy and really delicious cake to whip together at the last moment if you know someone is coming over. The only tricky ingredient it has is pre-made lemon curd. I bought the Bonne Maman variety, which I’ve been eating with a spoon ever since. It makes a surprisingly luscious topping when beat with fresh whipped cream. Also, I didn’t feel like splurging on fresh berries, as I knew we had a bunch of frozen ones in the fridge. I ended up with half a cup of frozen blueberries, then picked the other half cup out of a bag of mixed frozen berries. A couple blackberries made it in too. They were also delicious. No need to be picky about your fruits. I forgot the demerera sugar on top, but don’t think I missed it.

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I talked about a different blueberry lemon cake recipe on here some years ago. That one is a decadent layer birthday cake, not to be confused with this delicate, weekday-afternoon-appropriate version. Both are hella delicious.

Simple Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream aka the Best Psuedo-Frosting

from my friend Liz!

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup sugar
zest of one lemon (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, room temp
½ teaspoon (or a bit more) pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or 2%)
¼ cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)
1 ½ tablespoons turbinado sugar (I forgot this…)
fresh berries to serve (optional)

Lemon Cream

I doubled the original recipe and did not regret it. This is the ratio I used —

½ cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons store-bought lemon curd

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan (I used springform but it isn’t necessary). Cut out a circle of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a big bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together with your fingertips to combine, until the mixture is sand-like and smells like lemon candy. Add the butter and beat for 3ish minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. (I used my Kitchenaid but hand mixer should work fine.) Beat in vanilla and the egg until combined. Add yogurt and beat well.

At low speed, beat in half the flour. Then add milk and beat until just combined. Add rest of the flour and mix until just combined.

Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pan. Scatter berries on top and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cake is golden-brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack. Peel off parchment and let cool all the way. Invert again onto a nice plate.

Meanwhile, back with your mixer, beat together the whipped cream and the lemon curd until creamy and thick. This took 3ish minutes for me. Texture should be the consistency of yogurt. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Dollop lemon cream on top of completely cooled cake. Top with fresh berries, if you’d like. Let your guests gush over how good this simple cake is.

Liz’s notes:

  • You can substitute ½ cup buttermilk for the yogurt and milk
  • This cake bakes quickly. (true!) Start checking it at 20 minutes.
  • Cake can be made one day in advance — just wrap it well in saran wrap overnight. Lemon curd can be made 8 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Maple Sesame Sweet Potatoes

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Hi again! Posting two days in a row, this might be a first. Oh boy. I’m just here to say that you can do the exact same thing I did with yesterday’s salmon to today’s sweet potatoes. Exact. same. sauce.!! And it’s REALLY GOOD. And this way it’s vegan. I served these sweet potatoes on buttery white rice with an egg fried in sesame oil (not vegan). All drizzled with sriracha. One of my better thrown together dinners in memory.

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Maple Sesame Sweet Potatoes

a swanky original but its the same recipe as previous except with sweet potatoes

a lil coconut oil
2 biggish sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into long thin “toasts”
⅓ cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup sesame seeds (I did a mix of white and black)
Chopped scallions to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Find a baking dish that will fit your sweet potato slices in basically a single layer. I halved the recipe and did an 8-inch square dish. Put a little coconut oil on the dish and arrange your potatoes. Mix together maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic in a measuring cup, then pour over potatoes to coat. Cook for about 20 minutes. Flip sweet potatoes and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for another 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and thick, and sweet potatoes are coated and tender.

 

Maple Sesame Salmon – 11/67

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My little sister is officially more educated than I am. I mean, she was always on the fast track to becoming an adult before me. She had a job with a regular paycheck (and benefits) way before I did. She’s been a vegetarian since before it was cool. She actually knows how to (and enjoys) exercise. She sets her sights on what she wants to do and does it! Multiple half-marathons, check. Wants to go on vacation in a year? Buys her tickets healthily in advance and plans a sensible itinerary. MSW? Check. Sigh. I’ve officially worn matching socks without holes in them all week, so that’s a thing.

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My parents hosted a little gathering to celebrate her achievement with close family and her grad school friends. A lovely bunch of pesca-vega-tarians. Toasts were made. The grads’ altruism and friendships were rightly lauded. We went on a still unnamed boat and ate lots of good food. The sun showed up after a long morning of rain. And then I watched my first ever game of thrones episode, the series finale. (Probably not the right time to start watching.)

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I happily helped prep food the afternoon leading up to the party and was happy to learn my mom was planning to make one of the salmon recipes from my book. Alright sure I’ll check a recipe off the list! This fish was so easy to make, and it received rounds of compliments at the table. Paired really nicely with an orzo salad and grilled vegetables. A perfect first outside meal of the season. A perfect way to tip a hat to hard work and new beginnings.

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Such a beautiful place to cook. And eat.

two years ago: garlicky tomato zoodles
(nothing of note in years one, three, or four)

Maple Sesame Salmon

thanks Mom! Note – this exact same recipe works really well with sweet potatoes replacing the salmon. Click here for details of this revelation!

2 lbs salmon cut into serving size pieces (my mom says “skin removed if you remember to ask at the fish counter”)
⅓ cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup sesame seeds (I did a mix of white and black)
Chopped scallions to serve (optional)

Combine maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Pour over fish fillets. We did this in a shallow baking dish; a ziplock bag would also work. Let marinate in the fridge for at least ten minutes, or up to 8-9 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. (Update! My mom says she always does 425F, even though the recipe says otherwise.) 

Take fillets out of marinade, drip dry, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (keep the marinade!). Then, sprinkle fish all over with sesame seeds, pressing them in a bit to help stick. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Serve salmon with thickened maple sauce and sprinkle of scallions.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar (Ice Cream Sandwiches) – 10/67

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You know what’s so good that I look forward to taking the train home so I can have a piece? Peanut butter chocolate chip bars. Perfect texture, just the right amount of nutty brown sugar, buttery sweet tooth satisfier.

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You know what’s even better? Peanut butter chocolate chip bar ice cream sandwiches. I only made two, and cut the rest into small squares for Daniel to bring to work, so I couldn’t go off the deep end with these. I definitely regret this decision. Especially because Daniel was all like “I don’t get it, why add ice cream, it’s already great” and then he had a bite. And I’ve never seen him acknowledge being so wrong about something. This combination is truly wonderful. Then he was an equal sharer :(.

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Side note – Daniel is good about acknowledging when I am right about something. For a stubborn dude, it’s a very charming quality. Once we were on a bus in Guatemala going to a hike and he said “oh, you’re right’ about something dumb and these two Christian missionary white dudes from Alabama started talking about “oh my god how rare is that, right? He actually is admitting he was wrong. Wow, what a moment, remember this one, probably once in ten years, right?” and they thought they were being funny and I was like, take your fragile outdated male fragility and find another tree to bark up, assholes, my partner is confident and masculine and has a conscience and is respectful and no we don’t want to talk about jesus, you ignoramuses. But I probably just smiled and said ha and then fumed silently.

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Which is all to say, admitting when you’re wrong is powerful. Some people, cough, people in charge of countries and states and corporations who would never read my blog, should think about this. People make mistakes, and acknowledging that and fixing it shows maturity. Sulking and pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t.

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Know what makes me feel better about the sorry state of our leaders’ sense of right and wrong? Peanut butter chocolate chip bars. With or without ice cream.

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one year ago: nothing of note, but we ate tacos here last week and I’m really excited to go back. Tuna tostada of my dreams
two years ago: nothing of note, but have you watched Dead to Me? I’m halfway through and it took a lot of willpower to write this post instead of watch it this morning…
three years ago: za’atar and pomegranate molasses granola
four years ago: gingery coconut rice

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars (Ice Cream Sandwich)

from my mom’s friend Judy, baker extraordinaire

1 ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
Heaping ½ cup peanut butter (I used all natural chunky and it was great)
½ cup sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 heaping cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips but would use regular next time)
flaky sea salt 

Heat oven to 350F. Grease a baking pan. (Recipe says 11×7 but I used 10×14 and it was fine but brownies were a tad thin)

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, peanut butter, both sugars, and vanilla. (I’m sure this would work with a hand beater too.) Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down as needed. Add eggs one a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.

Remove mixer bowl from mixer and add dry ingredients in one go. Mix with a spatula to begin to incorporate, then put back on mixer and mix at lowest speed until just blended. Add chocolate chips and mix for another moment, until evenly mixed in.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes (mine were in for probably 32 minutes), until edges are golden brown and center is slightly puffy. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let cool before serving.

To make ice cream sandwiches

The center of my bars sunk a bit and were a bit underbaked. I cut longer rectangles out of that bit, and carefully cut them in half lengthwise. I froze each of these sections for a couple hours, then topped with vanilla ice cream and sandwiched. Thought I’d need to refreeze but nope, wasn’t necessary. 
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