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gingerbread muffinsLOOK! i still bake things and blog things! i once read this list of things bloggers should never, ever do, and #1 said, “don’t apologize for your absence, people get annoyed when you’re all, omg i’ve been gone for so long, i’m so sorry dear readers. but i don’t have very many dear readers, and WHATEVA, I DO WHAT I WANT, so, here’s my apology: life got away from me. dear god, it’s me, sarah, and it has been over 2 months since my last real blog post. i am here to confess my sins.

i really am hoping to talk to you guys, my faraway + internet friends, about what i’ve been doing the past few months, but that’s a story (or stories) for another post (posts).

we are gathered here today to talk about the deliciousness that is these gingerbread muffins. i adapted them from how sweet eats’ recipe (love her, want to be her), and by adapted i mean i didn’t have enough maple syrup, i was too lazy to walk the 2 blocks to the grocery store and i didn’t want to use the aunt jemima (ew) from the bodega across the street, so i used honey instead.

anywho, this recipe calls for LOTS of molasses, and i love anything with molasses. i always try to lick it out of the jar (TMI?), only to realize that while molasses makes other things taste GREAT, molasses itself tastes, well, bitter and gross and oh my god why did i put that in my mouth?!

i have the same issue with vanilla extract.

i made these muffins on sunday morning, and then i took a pretty picture of them on a pretty tea towel and marveled at my artistry and how perfectly baked they were. then i ate one on the way to soulcycle and resisted the urge to instagram my artistry, knowing that this here recipe would be a good one for the blog.

so here we are, folks. gingerbread muffins! OH MY HOLIDAY!

what you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (use fresh if you have it, i didn’t)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup (substitute honey if you don’t have enough – that’s what i did)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
raw sugar for topping (i used THIS amazing vanilla bean sugar that in nashville last month and it is the BOMB DIGGITY. if you like to bake, ORDER IT)

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. line your muffin tin with liners (pretty ones make all the difference).

whisk together your dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. set aside.

in a larger bowl (i used my kitchenaid mixer, also known as my BBF, my best baking friend), whisk together brown sugar and egg. once those are hanging out, getting to know one another, whisk in the molasses, maple syrup (or honey if that’s the path you chose) and vanilla extract. then, whisk in your melted butter until all is fully combined and right with the world.

stir in your dry ingredients until JUST combined. no overzealous mixing, please.

before they’re fully combined, stir in the milk. now you should have a smooth batter.

fill your muffin cups 3/4 of the way full, and top each with a big sprinkle of sugar. bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until your muffin tops are set. no one likes a jiggly muffin top.

(sorry, couldn’t resist).

now, eat, celebrate, share with friends, bring to your office, etc. most of all, ENJOY!

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vanilla almond granola with cranberriesoh, granola. granola is one of those foods that makes you think of earthy crunchy healthy people who probably eat paleo and go to yoga at least 4 times a week. i mean, there’s a reason people can be referred to as “granola” people. or, wait. did i just make that up? regardless, you know the sorts of people i mean, don’t you? the folks who wouldn’t dare each a bowl of lucky charms (aka, not me).

anyway, people love granola. i’d go as far as to say that granola is really in right now. top it with berries, eat it with yogurt, eat it with milk, snack on it…no matter how you’re consuming, granola is having a moment. or rather, it has been having a moment for the past few years. i too jumped on the yogurt and granola train a year or so back, eating it regularly for breakfast at my desk. but recently, i happened to take a look at the ingredient breakdown on the back of my supposedly healthy granola, and guess what? that ish was FULL of sugar. and other ingredients i couldn’t pronounce. and that mystified me, because granola is basically just oats and nuts and maybe some oil/sweetener, right? and dried fruit if you’re feeling fancy? so what was up with ingredients i couldn’t pronounce?

NOT COOL, GRANOLA.

so recently on a weekend, when i was sitting at home being lame while others were out having fun and doing the things that so-called normal late twenty-somethings do, i made my own. after doing a bit of googling, it turned out i was right: granola is basically just oats + sweetener + nuts + a lil bit of oil + spices + dried fruit/chocolate. EASY PEASY.

i decided i wanted vanilla granola with dried cranberries and toasted almonds (i’d picked up the latter two ingredients at whole foods recently and needed to use them for something). so i tossed some oats into a bowl with the almonds, then melted down some coconut oil, and mixed it into the oats along with some vanilla extract, some maple sugar for sweetness, and some cinnamon for shits and giggles. and guess what? the results were DELISH.

let’s break it down, shall we?*

*here’s the thing about granola: so long as you coat your oats and add some sweetener, you’re pretty much guaranteed goodness. so don’t worry too much about measuring cups.

VANILLA ALMOND GRANOLA WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES

what you’ll need:

– approximately 2.5 -3 cups of oats

– pinch of salt

– 1/4 cup maple syrup

– 1/2 cup melted coconut oil

– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (pour liberally, folks)

– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/2 cup dried cranberries

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 300, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or a silicon baking mat, if you’ve got one).

melt down your coconut oil, and pour it over your oats. toss to mix. add your maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, and toss a bit more. toss in your almonds.

go ahead and do a little taste test if you want. ain’t no raw eggs in here. add some more sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon, etc, if you’d like.

once your granola has passed the taste test, spread them out on the baking sheets you’ve prepared. don’t overload your sheets – a thin layer is what’s going to ensure your granola is cooked evenly.

bake for about 45 minutes, tossing every 15. when done, let your granola cool completely. the air will help to create that crunchiness that granola is known for.

once cool, toss with your dried cranberries – or any dried fruit, really! or even chocolate chips if you’re feeling really crazy – and store in an airtight container. granola should stay fresh for about 3 weeks at room temperature.

HAPPY EATING! i like to eat mine with fresh fruit on top and honey greek yogurt on the bottom, as evidenced here.

 

 

 

strawberryscones2

i read this post the other day, about the pervasiveness of the boring blog, which got me thinking about whether my little corner of the internet has any real worth, about whether anything i’m doing is original. here’s where i landed: very few things are truly original these days. what is original about something – be it a recipe, or a moodboard, or a story – is that its yours. that it’s told in your own voice, which is a voice no one but you can convey.

take, for example, the above recipe for strawberry scones. i riffed off this one, from annie’s eats. for all intents and purposes, it’s annie’s recipe, not mine. but when i made it, i added vanilla. i squeezed a bit of extra lemon juice into my batter instead of just adding zest. i used my hands to cut my butter into the flour mixture, instead of putting it into the food processor (a tip my mother taught me long ago). do those few things make it “mine enough” to warrant a post? i suppose that’s up for debate.

what i do know is that i made this recipe, and made it my own. and it was delicious, so i’d like to share it with you. it’s as simple as that.

so, let’s do this, shall we?

scones are one of those foods that people seem to imagine are difficult to make (i put risotto into this category as well). in fact, when i made these on saturday, the first thing my roommate said was, “scones? aren’t those really hard to make?”

guess what? they’re not. scones are actually uber SIMPLE to make. which is what makes them so magical. they’re a breakfast/brunch standby, and you can whip them up in under 30 minutes. generally speaking, it’s likely that you already have all the ingredients you need on hand, which is always nice. these ones, which are spiced with a hint of lemon zest and feature fresh strawberries, are like a pop of spring in your mouth, which is a good thing on a sunny day when it feels like mother nature is finally letting go of her grasp on the warmer weather we were promised almost a month ago.

what you’ll need:

1 large egg

¼ cup greek yogurt, plain (i used chobani)

½ cup milk

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 tsp. lemon zest + the juice of 1/2 of your zested lemon

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 heaping cup diced fresh strawberries

strawberryscones1

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 425.

in a small bowl, whisk together your yogurt, milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

in a larger bowl, mix your dry ingredients. set aside, and cut up your butter. i like to cut mine into sliced (the way you’d slice up cheese), then quarter those slices.

add your butter to dry ingredients. with clean, dry hands, begin to smush the little bits of butter into the flour. you can use a pastry cutter, or a food processor, or even two forks, to do this, but i find using your hands is a) most effective and b) most relaxing.

{the warmth of your hands helps to melt the butter ever so slightly, and there’s something incredibly calming about running the mixture through your fingers, smoothing the lumps and turning the ingredients into a crumbly bowl of goodness. my favorite thing about baking is how tactile it is, whether you’re measuring flour or kneading dough. whenever you can, choose to do things with your own hands, instead of letting a machine do them. it’s worth it, i promise.}

once the butter has been mixed into the flour (it should resemble pea-sized crumbs), toss your strawberries into the mixture. {this is an important step! coating the berry bits with flour ensures that they won’t get too mushy.}

once you’ve folded in your strawberries, add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix lightly with a spatula or wooden spoon, until all the wet has been incorporated into the dry. {don’t stir vigorously, you’re not trying to mix concrete here. over-mixing your batter is the biggest mistake you can make in baking. big mistake. HUGE.}

transfer your dough to a well-floured surface (i like to use these cutting board mats), and pat it down to flatten a bit. if you’d like, you can shape your dough into a circle, and cut into wedges. i got these cute biscuit cutters at the williams sonoma outlet last year, so i always opt to put some nice fluting details on my scones when i can. what can i say? i’m fancy like that. anywho, you can basically shape your scones however you damn please, so long as you make them all somewhat equal to ensure even cooking.

to bake, place your scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or silpat, if that’s your jam) for 13-15 minutes. they should be golden around the edges, and have risen considerably. when your kitchen starts to smell like fruity spring goodness, they’re done.

eat ’em as soon as you can, because sadly, the strawberries get a bit mushy after a day or so. eaten hot out of the oven, with a pat of butter, these are positively stuff your face delicious. happy eating!

*i packaged most of mine up and dropped them off to my ladies at blackstones – my favorite hair salon in the city – as a thank you for prettifying me and giving me some serious blonde ambition the night before.

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i think i’ve mentioned here before that growing up, i wasn’t a huge breakfast fan. i mean, hello, someone pass me the beefaroni or the leftover chicken and rice pilaf, please. i think when i really fell in love with breakfast was, sadly, when i started drinking. you know, because when you’re hungover in college, all you want to do is run to the dining hall and stuff your face with an oversized omelette and greasy homefries. you all know i love homefries. can’t live without ’em. lord, don’t ever send me to a place where homefries are not a breakfast standard. anywho, as i’ve gotten older, and hence, matured into the wise lady i am today, i’ve come to realize that there’s really lots to love about breakfast – from eggs benedict (i really need to master hollandaise) to fluffy pancakes like the ones you see above.

in my mind, there’s little that screams sunday morning like a pile o’ fluffy white pancakes. and ladies and gents, when i say pancakes, i don’t mean ihop, and i most certainly don’t mean bisquick. i can eat a bisquick pancake faster than you can say “from a box” – but with a recipe like the one below, there’s really no need for a box mix. pancakes are S-I-M-P-L-E, folks. as in, you barely need a recipe, and unless you’re the kind of person who stuffs their sweaters into their oven and owns only one pan (new yorkers, i’m looking at you), you likely have everything you need for these babies in your kitchen already.

this recipe (which i modified slightly) yields fluffy, light, melt in your mouth pancakes. i ate mine with melted butter and nothing else, but they’d be great with chocolate chips or berries mixed in, and even better with some spiked maple syrup. 

The Recipe

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

the key to this recipe is that you don’t do the mixing with a plain old spoon or fork – you use a whisk. this releases a ton of air into your batter, making for the fluffy pancakes sunday morning dreams are made of. 

to make, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. in a smaller bowl, beat the egg, then mix in the melted butter, vanilla and milk. make sure you give the butter a bit of time to cool after you melt it – you don’t want to cook the egg! make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and pour in your wet ones. mix slightly with a wooden spoon, and then whip with a whisk to beat fully. 

your batter might be a bit thicker than the usual bisquick shiz, but don’t fret. this is to be expected. 

heat a lightly oiled griddle (i use canola oil spray from trader joe’s) over medium to high heat. scoop your batter onto the griddle, about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. cook a few minutes on each side, and serve hot.

breakfast is served. 

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today in things earthy crunchy people eat: GRANOLA. that’s right folks, i made granola! and it wasn’t even hard, not a little bit, not at all. here’s how it went down. the other day, as i was pouring my kashi cereal (7 whole grains, on a mission to keep me full ’till lunch!) into my yogurt, i had two thoughts. the first was, “i don’t even really like kashi. it kind of tastes like cardboard. i wish this was granola.” the second was, “granola is so expensive.” then i had a third thought: why don’t i make my own damn granola? i mean, i am a woman. in the words of miss carrie bradshaw, a WO-MAN! and a WO-MAN should not have to pay $7.99 for a tiny container of stale granola at an overpriced new york grocery store, especially when she has oats and honey and raisins at home. Image

so i did a bit of googling, and then a bit of altering, and voila! i had homemade granola. want to make it for yourself? you should, it’s really quite yummy, and it tastes great with some vanilla chobani.

The Recipe

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup wheat germ

1 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

to make, heat the oven to 300 and line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. spritz with nonstick spray. in a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, sesame seeds, nuts, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt. make a little well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the wet ones: oil, agave, water and vanilla. toss until all the ingredients are evenly combined, then spread the mixture evenly on your cookie sheets.

bake the granola in increments of ten minutes – about 20-25 in total – tossing every ten to ensure even cooking. let cool completely, and then stir in your raisins or fruit (or chocolate chips if that strikes your fancy), as well as the remaining two teaspoons of cinnamon.

now, eat with yogurt, and get down with yo bad healthy self.

going out dancing with your friends ’till the wee hours of the morning is a wonderful thing. as is bringing your own bottles of cheap wine to a rooftop party and proceeding to down them alongside multiple cranberry vodkas. but you know what’s not so wonderful?

waking up the next morning with a pounding head and sunlight streaming through your curtains. and a cat that’s repeatedly pawing your head wanting to be fed. in my dreams, my hangovers are aided/abated by the beautifully hot guy sleeping next to me, reminding me that my bad choices (drinking too much) are okay because they lead to good choices (bringing home a hottie). in reality, what happens is that i stumble home to my apartment after throwing my cabbie a $10, heat up some leftover pasta and sit in my bed watching house hunters until i’ve drank a full two cups of water and consumed everything in my bowl. the next morning, all i wake up to is a dirty bowl and my hungry cat.

i’m still waiting for the morning i wake up with the hottie in tow and can cook both of us a spectacular breakfast that makes him fall madly in love with me. but in the meantime, i’m just cooking for myself – which is by no means a reason to skimp on the details.

it’s my personal belief that hangovers are remedied by one thing and one thing only: grease. maybe that grease comes in the form of bacon, maybe it’s in your fried eggs, maybe it’s in your homefries, maybe it’s in all three. that, combined with a little hair of the dog (if you can stomach it) and some coffee, and you should be good to go. since i don’t want to pay to go out to breakfast every time i’m hungover, i’ve developed a pretty delicious and grease-filled recipe for homefries that has worked pretty darn well as a homemade hangover remedy. remember in this post, when i told you i was obsessed with homefries? well, i am. and it turns out, i make a pretty mean batch myself.

so, tomorrow morning, when your head is throbbing, and you’re regretting those drunk texts you sent last night  and you feel like you might barf if you have to put on clothes, pop a few aspirin and whip these babies up. then throw on some john mayer or damien rice in the background. something about a guy crooning with a soothing guitar makes all your worries melt away, if you ask me.

Homemade Hangover Remedy: Homefries

1/2 cup chopped yellow onions

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

2 cloves fresh garlic, diced

2 tsp fresh herbs of your choice (i used thyme and a little bit of basil)

2-4 tsp of smoked paprika (add this to taste – i like a lot of paprika in mine)

1 tsp garlic powder

3 medium sized potatoes, cute into bite sized pieces

3 tbs butter, maybe a few more to taste

to make, chop all your chop-able ingredients and set them aside. you want to have things ready to throw in as you go. heat a large skillet with your butter and maybe a tiny bit of canola oil. you want to get that grease in there – it’s what’s going to soak up all the alcohol in your tummy. once the pan is warmed and the butter is melted, add your mushrooms, onions, and garlic and turn head down to medium. you want to cook these babies until soft. also, if you’ve got some green pepper on hand (i don’t usually buy peppers, but if you do), dice it up and toss about 1/4 cup of it in there as well.

once your onions and shrooms are softened, throw your potatoes in there as well. season with paprika and garlic powder, and smell. if you can’t smell the paprika, add more. you want to smell something strong, fragrant, and paprika garlic-y. if you can’t smell it yet, you need more spices. also add salt and pepper to taste. a few grinds of pepper should do, as well as about a tsp or two of salt. now add your fresh spices, and toss. cover your skillet and cook for ten minutes or so, covered. the cover will help cook the potatoes quickly by keeping the heat and steam inside the pan.

after ten minutes, stir again, and consider adding more seasoning if need be. the measurements above are estimates – you might want more, depending on how flavorful you like your homefries. remove the top and add a bit more butter. remember, grease is the word. cook a few more minutes, uncovered, to really cement the flavors in there. your homefries should be soft on the inside, and crunchy on the outside, much like a great cookie.

if you want to add more garlic, or more onions, or any of the above, go for it. homefries are great, because you’re really just throwing a bunch of stuff into a pan and hoping for the best. these came out delicious, hence my sharing them with you, but feel free to add or subtract as you see fit.

now, serve them up with some fruit salad (bananas are also good for hangovers) and some fried eggs.

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as you’ve probably figured out, my baking tastes don’t exactly fall into the super healthy category. you won’t find me baking paleo bread, or cookies that substitute applesauce for butter, or any of those other healthy folk shortcuts. in general, i’m of the mindset that sweets should be just that. if you’re going to eat a cookie, eat a damn cookie, the way it’s meant to be baked and eaten, and don’t hate yourself for it. just don’t eat twelve cookies. moderation, you know? i’d rather be allowed just one really freaking delicious sweet a day than be able to eat multiple faux-sweets. 

that being said, however, i do really like oatmeal-ly baked goods. i love oatmeal raisin cookies, and there are these things called oatcakes that they serve at a bakery/cafe in my hometown that i ADORE. for years, i’ve been searching for a recipe to recreate them. they’re almost like a combination between a scone and an oatmeal raisin cookie, but somehow, better, lighter and healthier overall. while i still haven’t found the perfect recipe (more testing to be done), i thought i’d share this one, because these babies are a) SUPER healthy and great for breakfast and b) pretty close to the real thing.

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The Recipe

From Super Natural Everyday via Green Cilantro

Makes 12 oat cakes
  • 3 cups / 10.5 oz / 300 g rolled oats
  • 2 cups / 8 oz / 225 g spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (i got mine at trader joe’s)
  • 2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup / 1.5 oz / 45 g flax seeds
  • 3/4 cup / 3 oz / 85 g chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g extra-virgin coconut oil (note: i didn’t have this so i used butter, and it made the cake too dense. i guess it was dense of me to assume i could make the substitution. stick with the coconut oil)
  • 1/3 cup / 3 oz / 85 g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup / 180 ml maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g natural cane sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


to make, preheat your oven to 325. grease a 12 cup muffin pan (or put in paper liners). 

in a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, flax seeds, and walnuts. set aside. in a medium saucepan, heat the   the coconut oil, butter, maple syrup, and sugar and slowly melt together. Stir just until the butter melts and sugar has dissolved, but don’t let the mixture get too hot.

remove from heat and pour over the oats. mix with a wooden spoon. add your beaten eggs and mix again, until eggs are evenly incorporated. mix in your cranberries, then spoon the dough into the muffin cups (they should be about 3/4 of the way full). 

bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are golden. remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then tip them out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. 

these are great for a grab and go breakfast or an afternoon pick me up snack – but don’t eat them right before a workout. flaxseeds can give you gas, and a gassy girl on the treadmill ain’t a pretty sight.