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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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wild rice and peach saladthere comes a time each summer, when i’ve eaten one too many ice cream cones and had one too many drinks and i just start to feel like a giant blob of unhealthy. such was the case during the week leading up to labor day, when i told myself, after a weekend of somewhat-controlled debauchery on the jersey shore, that i was going to “eat clean” for a week.

that didn’t last. i mean, i tried, really, i did. and i definitely ate healthier, but if there’s one thing i learned about myself, it’s that putting restrictions like “eat clean all week” on myself just make me want pasta even more. whereas, when i just tell myself i’m actively going to try and eat healthily, and swap my ice cream cones for berries, i’m somewhat able to do so.

anyway, during my “eat clean” week, i stumbled across this recipe from the QUEEN of eating clean. seriously, this woman is perfectly happy to eat a giant bowl of vegetables for dinner and call it a day. i mean, i wish i was that sort of human, but i’m just not.

i adapated sarah’s recipe to fit my own tastes, and to make it work-lunch worthy, i served it over arugula, which beefed it up a little (and added some greens, which are always healthy, right?!). it’s delicious. trust me, you want to make this.

what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice mix
  • 1-2 ripe peaches, sliced
  • 1/3 cup mint, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • juice of one large orange
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • pink himalayan salt or sea salt

what you’ll do

  • cook rice according to package directions. generally speaking, rice is a 2:1 water to rice ratio, with a bit of butter or oil thrown in.
  • stick your rice in the fridge to cool. meanwhile, mince your garlic and shallot, and juice your orange.
  • mix the shallot, garlic, OJ, EVOO, red wine vinegar and a little bit of salt (i used sea salt) into the bowl. stick your fork in and taste it. add more salt (or a little pepper, i did) if you’d like.
  • slice your peaches and roughly chop your mint.
  • in a large bowl, combine rice, peaches, and mint. add dressing and mix well, then stick in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors really seep in. i left mine in there overnight, since i was bringing it to work the next day.
  • when you’re ready to serve, fill a plate with a hearty serving of arugula (spinach or mixed greens would also work nicely here), and top with rice salad. sprinkle with some fresh mint and a little bit of salt and pepper, then toss to combine.

et voila! a healthy, pretty salad that will make everyone else at the office jealous.

 

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sometimes i think about how skinny i’d be if i didn’t eat carbs, or really, pasta in particular. i love rice, but i could give it up. i’d miss bagels, but i could do without them. i could care less about traditional bread; i’m not a sandwich girl. but pasta. pasta i could not live without. those paleo folks who shred zucchini and call it pasta? kudos to them, but i ain’t buying that shit. pasta is pasta, and i’m not going to cut up some veggies and call it a carb. hells to the N-O. i eat more pasta than i should, that’s for sure – so when i do eat it, i try to make sure it’s relatively healthy, and not doused in some disgustingly fattening sauce (alfredo, i’m looking at you). i always toss my pasta with a) homemade pesto b) homemade meat sauce or c) fresh veggies and herbs. the canned stuff makes a rare occurrence when i’m feeling uber lazy, but i do my best to ensure that if the pasta is boxed, whatever goes on top of it is fresh.

such is the case with this easy-as-pie recipe, for lemon parsley spaghetti with garlic and parm. when i made it the other day, i was craving greens, so i tossed some broccoli in as well. all you need are lemons, garlic, butter, italian flat leaf parsley, olive oil, parmesan, and spaghetti. that’s IT. and trust, this stuff is good. you could whip it up for a dinner party and impress your guests.

what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (you could sub linguine or any other thin pasta here)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ( i use trader joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped (make sure you don’t get the curly kind! italian parsley is flat leaf)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt + pepper
  • parmesan cheese

what you’ll do:

boil water for your spaghetti. while it boils, slice and dice all your goodies. grate the parm, chop the parsley, dice the garlic, zest your lemons, and squeeze ’em of their juices.

once your water is boiling, toss in your spaghetti with a pinch of salt. while the pasta cooks, throw your butter and olive oil into a skillet, and let the butter melt. turn the heat down to medium, and throw in your garlic. saute for a few minutes, until your entire kitchen smells like garlicky goodness (the best smell on earth). when garlic browns, turn off the heat.

drain your pasta, and toss is with the garlic/olive oil mixture. next, mix in your lemon zest/lemon juice/parsley. top with parm, season with a bit of salt and pepper, et voila! a delicious, easy, springy and oh-so-pretty meal!

ps: if you wanted to add protein, some lemony shrimp would be perfection on top of this dish.

pps: if you wanted to add veggies, simply chop them up and throw them into the pasta water for the last few minutes to cook them up, then drain them with your spaghetti.

c6120d988442a300b66f9321d79b23e0oh goodness, friday, i am so glad you are here. is it just me, or was this the longest week ever? i feel like i’ve been living my life in double time lately, and i don’t think things are going to slow down until we hit the holidays. my weeks have been such a whirlwind that i’ve been laying low on the weekends. it seems like the only way to preserve my sanity. tonight, i’m going to treat myself to a mani/pedi after work, then take my freshly painted toesies to trader joe’s, where i’ll pick up the fixings for the mini dinner party i’m hosting tomorrow night. i’m planning on making an old classic from the silver palate (hello, 80s!) cookbook, chicken marbella. something about prunes, capers and brown sugar all cooked up with chicken just screams cozy to me. i’m pairing it with a big arugula salad with shaved parmesan and balsamic, wild brown rice, and peanut butter white chocolate chip cookies. oh, and a cheese plate to start (inspired by this recent post on domaine). there’s really nothing i love more than a long, lazy dinner (okay, maybe not lazy, i have trouble keeping my OCD in check and not clearing plates before people are ready) with friends, multiple bottles of wine, and lots of yummy fall candles lit around us. saturday night perfection, in my book.

besides that, i’m taking a level 2 bar method class with one of my favorite teachers, robyn, who recently left new york for california. she’s back for the weekend, and is teaching a reunion class of sorts. i’m going to be so sore, but i can’t wait to see her. after that, i’m headed to get my hair done uptown, then back home to put the chicken in the oven. sunday will be brunch at the smith, then errands in the east village. a perfect relaxing weekend to prep me for the week ahead (which involves my very first business trip to raleigh, of all places, for a video shoot!).

what do you have planned for the weekend?

before you go judging me on this wacky title, i’ll tell you upfront: i didn’t make it up, not really. it’s my take on mario batali’s fusili alla crazy bastard, a recipe i stumbled upon earlier this week while doing foodie research for a freelance client of mine. batali’s recipe calls for beet greens, which i’ve never even heard of, and goat cheese, which i didn’t have on hand. but that’s the fun thing about cooking – you can swap, and nothing bad will happen! usually, at least. my mom’s cooking “experiments” led to some not so delicious dinners as a child (though she always loved what she whipped up, even if it meant putting lentils where lentils most definitely did not belong). with baking, which is more of a science, precision is everything. you can’t just swap one ingredient for another and hope for the best. with cooking, however, swapping and playing it by ear is part of the magic. if you’ve got yummy ingredients, and you season them well, it’s highly likely that the end result will always be a party in your mouth.

SO. penne all crazy bitch. when i got home tonight, after a long afternoon of day drinking (which, let’s face it, was a bit hard on my 85 year old grandma soul), all i wanted to do was call up the sushi place on the corner and place an order for two avocado rolls and one sweet potato tempura roll with a side of spicy mayo. but the little angel on my shoulder chimed in…”sarah, you’re unemployed. no ordering sushi. cook something, girl. you didn’t start this blog for nothing!” so, off to pinterest i went (my recipes board is where i turn when i can’t figure out what on earth to cook). and there was fusili alla crazy bastard. and i took one look at that bowl o’ delicious and thought, alright, that’s it. that’s what i’m making tonight.

except that i didn’t have fusili, only penne. and i had no goat cheese, only grated romano. and of course, no beet greens, because let’s be honest, i wouldn’t know a beet green if it smacked me in the face. is it just the greens portion of beets? a quick google search confirms that yes, it is. what i did have, however, was garlic and red pepper and spring greens and tomatoes, and a box of penne. and there’s really no way those ingredients can come together and NOT taste good. so i amended batali’s recipe to match my ingredients. i switched the beet greens for spring mix (i buy the bagged stuff at trader joe’s. can’t go wrong for $1.99), the cherry tomatoes for a sliced and diced beefsteak, the goat cheese for romano, and added mushrooms – because why not? everything is better with shrooms, as the druggies of the world can tell you. 

since i made so many changes, i figured my dish needed a different name. and as i’m a crazy bitch, not a crazy bastard…well, you get the jist. so, without further adieu, penne alla crazy bitch.

The Recipe (an adaptation of this one)

1/2 cup of walnuts

two large tomatoes, sliced and diced

1 1/2 cups of mushrooms, sliced

2-3 handfuls of spring greens/greens of your choice

Three cloves of garlic, chopped

Olive oil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 box pasta of your choice

1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 350. spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 minutes. remove from oven, and chop. set aside. increase oven temperature to 450. toss diced tomatoes and mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast in oven for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. add pasta and cook according to directions. while pasta is cooking, remove roasted tomatoes and mushrooms from the oven. saute garlic with a little bit of olive oil in a large pan until golden brown. add tomato and mushroom mixture to pan and toss. add spring greens and red pepper and cook until greens are just wilted, about three minutes.

drain pasta, and add it to vegetable mixture. toss a few times heat to marry the sauce and the pasta. remove from heat, and divy up dish into bowls. top with cheese of your choice, sprinkle with walnuts, and serve.

HELLO GORGEOUS. this dish is super delish, easy to make (20 minutes tops), and feels way fancier than it really is. plus, even my cat penny wanted a bite, and girlfriend has great taste* – so you know this stuff is good.

* i think anything would taste better than the canned cat food she eats.

does anyone else feel a little less guilty when they down an entire pint of sorbet? no? that’s just me? okay then. here’s what i like about sorbet: it seems healthier than ice cream or candy or cookies or brownies (all of which i adore), and it’s fresh. as in, cool, refreshing, perfect for summer fresh. i’m also big into strawberries. as soon as they start populating the fruit stands on the streets of NYC, i’m all, “you give me 2 for $5? alright i’ll take 4 boxes.” i know, my bartering skills are top notch, don’t mess. 

this month’s issue of cooking light (a great foodie mag, don’t be fooled by the “light” title) contained an entire section about to do with spring and summer strawberries. ALL HAIL THE BERRY GODS! i am making me some shortcake, stat. but in the meantime, the temps rose to the high heavens last week in new york, and i felt it was time to pull my ice cream maker out of storage. apparently, the cooking gods agreed, because they sent me this recipe, for strawberry buttermilk sherbet. note: i’m calling mine sorbet. try and stop me. 

this recipe is the epitome of fresh and easy. all you need is buttermilk, strawberries, agave nectar, and a little bit of fresh lemon juice (grab yourself some meyer lemons…mmm…DELISH). the recipe also calls for some chambord, but i’m not classy enough to have that sort of thing on hand in my kitchen, so i did a bit of snooping around on the internet. according to my boy david lebovitz, alcohol in sorbets/sherbets helps them freeze right - not too hard, not too soft. too much alcohol, though, and you’ll just have a drunken mess. i opted for about a teaspoon or two of vodka in my sherbet, and i have to say, it turned out damn good!

there’s dessert, and then there’s breakfast. and then there’s breakfast that tastes like dessert. these whole wheat banana bread muffins certainly fall into that category. they’re homey, perfectly dense and yet ultra moist (does anyone else hate that word?), and oh so good with a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

i adapted this recipe, and used whole wheat flour in hopes of making it a bit healthier. stick them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, prick with a toothpick to make sure they’re done and serve them with butter.