Chocolate Chai Banana Bread

this bread is bananas

Apologies for the lack of posts lately! Not that I think anyone is sitting here with bated breath, eagerly awaiting my next post, but, ya’ know, I like to get more posts up than I’ve been able to lately. Life gets in the way, but more than that, procrastination and wanting to just chill without worrying about working is really what gets in the way. I’ve got some good stuff coming up, recipe-wise, though, so don’t give up on me. I’ll always be around! You can head to INSIDER Food to see what I’ve been working on, lately. Most recently, it was teaching people what a porrón is the only way I know how–through demonstration. I’ve been going to tons of restaurants lately, talking to chefs, and even making recipe videos of my own in our test kitchen. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I’m really energized every morning, even if I’m tired or if I was out late the night before. It feels good! I hope you’ll check out INSIDER every so often and follow me as I eat my way through New York, so to speak.

chocolate chai banana bread

Room service in Houston, baking cupcakes at work, biscuits, and pizza from Emmy Squared.

So, let’s talk banana bread. We’ve all made it a million times, but we’re not quite ready to ever stop. We’ve always got a couple of bananas sitting on our counter, ripening and, eventually, blackening, into those sweet little jewels that make for the best banana bread. I like to keep my bananas in the fridge for a week or two so that they get extra black, but that’s just me. The darker they get, the more sweet they become, so just keep that in mind the next time you think your bananas are too far gone for banana bread. They aren’t! Just throw them into a mixing bowl with some chopped dark chocolate and that late bit of chai concentrate that you have in your fridge. You know, that box that doesn’t quite have enough left for you to make a decent cup for yourself, but you still feel guilty for throwing it away. I’ve got a solution for you: throw it into your mixing bowl, too. Boom! Chocolate chai banana bread. You can, of course, make a spice mixture of your own (using cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, and star anise), but it’s really satisfying to just pour something into a bowl and have warm, comforting chai-spiced banana bread in about an hour. Kramer took this into his office, and from what I hear, it got rave reviews, and I have to say, the end bit that I had with a cup of black coffee really hit the spot, too. I love bread butts, what can I say? They’re another one of those cook’s rewards that you’re always hearing about. Anyway, butts aside, just make this banana bread. If anything, it’s an excuse to splurge on that fancy chai you keep seeing at the gourmet grocery store but haven’t gotten up the nerve to treat yourself to. It’s spring! The sun is out! You deserve a little iced chai in your life. And chai banana bread.

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Pickled Radishes

ready in minutes

This is more of the same cleaning-out-the-closet stuff. Remember when I made those delicious chicken tinga tacos last October or whenever it was? Probably October. They were from Billy’s book and they were awesome. Anyway, when I made them, I promised to share a sister recipe, if you will, for these pretty-in-pink pickled radishes. But things got in the way and I never did. I’m here today to fix that, though, and I’m finally giving you the super easy pickled radish recipe that you deserve. This isn’t a recipe where you need to sanitize a jar and wait for two months for your pickles to be ready. Oh, far from it. Instead, all you need are three ingredients: radishes, lime juice, and salt. Shake it all up and let it sit for a few minutes, then ta-da! Pickled radishes. You can let them sit for a few hours so that they turn a beautifully bright pink color, or you can eat them immediately. The choice is yours. They are the perfect thing to top your homemade tacos with, but they’re also excellent on a salad with your choice of protein, on any kind of sandwich or burger, or, let’s be real, eaten straight out of the jar with your fingers. It’s summer and summer foods always need a pop of acidity–these radishes are here to help you.

pickled radishes

Austin tacos (sans pickled radishes).

I figured pickled radish and taco-talk would be the perfect time to share a few photos from our trip to Austin earlier this month. Kramer and I loved it. Like, really loved it. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, having lived in Phoenix for eight years and seemingly “done” with the Southwest, but I have to say–Austin ruled. It’s a little bit like Brooklyn, a little bit like Portland, and a little bit like New Orleans, but of course, Austin is its own city, too. We had great food, from Uchi to Vera Cruz Natural to Odd Duck, and everything in between. We grabbed BBQ sandwiches and ate them by Barton Springs, we experienced the late-night debauchery of 6th Street, and we really loved the local scene along East Caesar Chavez. We drank good coffee and ate breakfast tacos from random taco windows and took cheap Ubers everywhere, where the drivers were chatty and talked to us about how the city is changing rapidly, with differing opinions on whether or not that change is good or bad. We were only there for three days, but we had really incredibly time and I can’t wait to go back! This weekend, though, we’re heading to Houston for a wedding, so I’m excited to see a different side of Texas. As always, if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears.

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One Pot Butter Chicken

comfort food at its best

I made this butter chicken a long time ago. The file on my computer literally says October. That’s insane, right? I can’t believe how quickly time goes by. I suppose I opted not to post this because I probably thought, well, I should get Thanksgiving posts up. Then all the December holidays. Then New Year’s. Then it’s time to diet and nobody wants to be tempted by butter chicken. Then I probably had a few sponsored posts and those had to get done. But now, here I am, with this glorious butter chicken. I’m pretty sure this is not a traditional Indian dish. Wikipedia says it was invented at a restaurant in Delhi in the 1950s, most likely for Western palates who craved something a little creamier, fattier, and less spicy than what they were being offered. Which is ridiculous, because let’s be real, Indian food is freaking delicious, and there’s no lack of butter or comfort food-type dishes. I mean, give me some paratha and a big bowl of dal and a movie to watch, and I’ll be in a blissed-out food coma in no time. But I digress. Butter chicken is a delicious guilty pleasure and I order it often. Most to-go Indian restaurants around here chop it up in smaller pieces, which make it easier to share, but I didn’t bother with this because the end result is so wonderfully tender that you can just use a fork to eat it – no knives required.

one pot butter chicken

A photo from our trip to Vermont last February, speaking of being late on things. I’ll share more eventually, but I really liked this one of my friend Kim.

I know it’s getting hot outside, and I know that butter chicken probably sounds like something you’d rather eat when it’s chilly, but look – you know we’re going to get at least one more cold front before summer finally does us in. Next week, when we we’re all inevitably whining and saying, “It’s soooo cooooold where did the sun gooooo?” Don’t fret. Just cook something warm and cozy and put on a pair of sweatpants and catch up on that TV show you’ve been neglecting. You won’t be able to do that in the summer because sitting on the couch when you’re sweaty and hot is no fun. That’s why summer day drinking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. But for now, cling to any chilly thoughts you have left and saddle up next to a bowl of this chicken. You can thank me later.

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Crispy Baked Blackberry-Glazed Wings

better than fried

So, let’s start things off on a exciting foot – I’ve got a new job. I started at INSIDER on Monday and I couldn’t be happier about it. Yep, that means I’m back at Business Insider. I really wanted to work in video, and maybe even cook and create recipes, and I’m going to be able to do that thanks to INSIDER Food. I feel like I’m finally on the right track. I’m really going to be working in the food space and making something myself every day. I’ve had a lot of jobs since I moved to New York, and they’ve all been inching me closer to working in this field in some capacity. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens! I’ve already got shoots at awesome restaurants that I love lined up, and there’s more to come. I really loved working at MUNCHIES and I learned an insane amount during my time there, but this next step is a fantastic opportunity for me to make things that I think audiences everywhere will love. So there! That’s my news. My post a week or so ago was unnecessarily cryptic, so apology if you thought something else was in the works! My mother-in-law called Kramer because she thought I was going to announce I was pregnant, ha! Boy, did I laugh when I heard that one. No babies here, unless you count food babies.

crispy baked blackberry glazed wings
A few teasers from my trip to Austin – we ate our weight in tacos.

I think that blackberries really are my favorite fruit. I say that with complete honesty. I love how they pop in your mouth, how they’re juicy and plump but still have plenty of texture, and most of all, I love their deep, dark purple color. They are incredibly appealing to me because they’re the goth berry of the berry world. Recently, Driscoll’s asked if I wanted to work together, so clearly I was putting my blackberry vibes out into the world and getting them back in spades. I decided to go savory with these bad boys, though the temptation to make a big, beautiful dessert dripping with blackberry goodness was tempting. My friend Jeena suggested that I make duck wings, but I went with chicken because you can’t just walk into the grocery store and pick up two pounds of duck wings. I mean, maybe in some places you can, but certainly not at your corner store. I added some fragrant alliums to the sauce, along with a splash of beer because then I get to drink the rest of the beer. That’s truly the reason I added alcohol. Alcohol and wings belong together, so you may as well cook them together, too. Side note: the secret ingredient here is baking powder. It dries up the wings and makes them suuuuuper crispy without messing with the flavor at all. Just a bit will do – try it and see. I was dubious at first, but the result was so good. These are without a doubt the crispiest baked wings I’ve ever tried. Don’t believe me? Seriously, just make these. You’re gonna be happy if you do.

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Warm & Buttery Artichoke Salad

with lemon

Hey y’all! I’m in Texas, so now I’m saying y’all. Not really, but I’m thinking it. I have the most bland, middle-of-the-country sounding accent, so saying that would sound really, really stupid, but I still like thinking it. It sounds nice. Y’all. It just seems so friendly, like the greeting is extremely personal or coming from someone you already know. I guess that’s just the South for you, right? I’m really loving Austin. I sort of knew I’d like it, but I didn’t quite know how much! It reminds me a lot of Portland, which is my One True Love of a city, but it’s really warm and sunny, which is great. Kramer and I have been eating like monsters since we got here. I’m on a breakfast-taco-only diet. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. I think that the green chiles that are in my queso have some vitamins in them, so I can tell myself I’ve eaten something green in the past few days and feel OK about it. I’m actually going to leave soon and grab another taco from a place near our Airbnb, then sit on line at Franklin’s for who knows how long. But people keep telling me it’s worth it, so it better be good! Really, though, I have no doubts.

warm and buttery artichoke salad

So – artichokes! This was my first time cleaning and trimming a fresh artichoke, and I gotta say, it was a learning experience, but after cleaning a couple, I feel like I’ve got it down pat. It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. Whoever picked up an artichoke and figured out that you could take the outer leaves off (and maybe steam them and dip them in butter) and get down to the tender, delicious heart was truly a genius. Kramer is actually a huge artichoke fan, and I’ve become one, too, after being married to him for however-many-years (let’s not age ourselves, shall we?). Recently, Ocean Mist Farms hooked me up with a big bushel of fresh artichokes and asked me to come up with a recipe using them, as well as let y’all know that you can win a trip to Monterey, California for the 2016 Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival! California sounds pretty nice right about now – I personally am not looking forward to going home to New York where it’s cold and rainy. I would much rather be in Monterey, soaking up the sun, going on an artichoke field tour, and doing a little beer and wine tasting. All you have to do to enter is share a photo or video of yourself cooking and eating a fresh artichoke, and I’m here to help you out with this warm, buttery artichoke salad. For this preparation, I treated my artichokes to a warm bath of butter, salt, and lemon, then topped everything off with freshly shaved Parmesan. My friend Jeena came by to sample the goods and she continued eating until I cleaned everything up and it was time for us to go wherever it was we were planning to go. This is the kind of thing you have a hard time not eating with your fingers as you plate it, I promise. The nutty, earthy artichoke pairs perfectly with the bright lemon and sharp Parmesan, and the olives bring a nice saltiness and brininess that I didn’t know I needed until I threw them on there at the last minute because that’s usually how I cook. I hope you’ll conquer your fresh artichoke Everest, make this salad, and enter for a chance to win a trip to Monterey! If you win, please take a selfie with that artichoke mascot and send it to me.

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College-Style Garlic Noodles

ready in under 20 minutes

Welcome to #SpringPantryPurge, guys. I highly recommend you get in on this. Basically, wünderkind Feed Me Phoebe gathered a group of awesome bloggers together to go through their pantries, get rid of something that’s been in there for a while, and spread the word about Feeding America, the country’s largest network of food pantries. A friend works in this industry, and the need for food is very real. Just $1 can provide up to 11 meals for a hungry person. Think about that! If you have an extra $5, I hope you’ll head to Feeding America’s website and donate a couple shekels if you can. I know we’re all working hard to make ends meet, but some people still can’t afford a decent dinner every night. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by tons of good food, but that’s obviously not the case for everyone and we don’t do a good enough job as a society to help those that need three square meals a day. I don’t mean to get all preachy on you guys, because I know you’re a great group of people! However, I think sometimes going hungry doesn’t seem like an American problem. It seems like something that happens elsewhere, not here. But I promise you, it’s happening right here, every day. So go ahead, clean out your pantries, and donate a few bucks to helping someone get some food in their belly.

college style garlic noodles

Okay, so, when I started going through my pantry trying to find something to make for the #SpringPantryPurge, I found these instant noodles in there. My friend Jess gave them to me and apparently they are really popular in Singapore. I generally try not to make pasta or noodles at home because I have zero self-control, but this was absolutely perfect. This is the shit I absolutely lived on in college. I had no extra cash and I was just learning to cook, so something like gussied-up instant noodles was right up my alley. You can really do whatever you want with these. You don’t have to use fresh ginger or jalapeño if you don’t have them. If you want to make it a heartier meal, go ahead and add some veggies–I think this would be really good with eggplant, or even some tofu. You could add meat, too. May I suggest shrimp? Kramer and I probably ate this once a week when we were younger, and I’d change it up each time. Maybe add a t-o-n of garlic one night, another night I’d make it super spicy, or sometimes I’d add a fried egg, because a runny egg yolk is obviously nature’s most perfect sauce. Go back to your college days and make this for dinner one night this week. It always makes me happy, and I’m sure it’ll make you happy, too.


Orange Ricotta-Stuffed Challah French Toast

you deserve this

Ah yes, brunch. Who does brunch better than New Yorkers? I’m sure each city in the country would say they do, but they’d be wrong. You know why? Because we don’t put up with a bunch of brunch shenanigans that other cities might. There are hundreds of spots to grab a bite here on a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning. If you’ve got time to kill, sure, go wait on line somewhere for their famous French toast or pancakes or fried chicken. If you’re in a rush, no problem. Go grab a bagel and cream cheese to eat sandwich-style on the walk to wherever it is you’re going, or a bacon, egg, and cheese from the bodega next to your apartment. We’ve got you. We take this brunch thing a little more seriously than most (generally). And of course, orange juice always has a place at brunch, from fresh squeezed to mimosas, which is why I was so excited when Simply Orange reached out to me about helping them create an OJ-inspired recipe. Today, I’ll be using the natural brightness of Simply Orange to show off what NYC is all about, breakfast style. I was already a pretty big fan of Simply before they contacted me and I’m sure a lot of you are too. It has great fresh-squeezed taste, is never frozen, sweetened or concentrated. Boom. Plus the bottle is pretty good lookin’ and you all know I’m a sucker for a pretty face. So, if you’re an orange juice fanatic like me, let’s talk about how you can get Simply Orange to hook you up: head to their Facebook page to poke around, browse some recipes, and enjoy your brunch. Or if you’re in New York and looking for Simply coupons and prizes, visit Gotham to Grove for more.

orange ricotta stuffed challah french toast

Let’s talk this French toast now, shall we? It’s one of my absolute favorite brunch (or just breakfast) treats. It is a treat, don’t get me wrong. If you eat this every day, you’re going to look like me the day after Thanksgiving. But it is delicious, and worth giving over to every once in awhile. We’ve got buttery challah, stuffed with creamy ricotta cheese, dipped in an egg, OJ, and milk mixture, then toasted in a pan with butter until golden and hot, hot, hot! I will admit: I brought the leftovers of this to a bar for friends later in the day, and I swear to you, it was eaten cold. Devoured, I tell you. It takes on an almost bread pudding-like texture after a few hours. What’s not to love about that? Make this, wrap it in some foil, and take it to go. You’re busy, after all.

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Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes

with orange whipped cream

I’m pretty much over this cold – hooray for me! Kramer, of course, caught it immediately after me. Sorry, honey. At least we got sick last week and not this week, because we’re headed to Austin on Wednesday! Yee-haw. I’ve never been and I’m really excited. I’m going to eat so much BBQ that I think my face is going to fall off. Or at least I hope so. The reason we’re going is that Kramer has a work trip planned, so we figured, why not just make a vacation out of it? I’ve made a map of restaurants to check out and bars to go to, and it looks like the scrawlings of a mad man, but I like being prepared and also there is way too much to do! I think I may or may not have added 70+ places to this map. I know. I have a problem. But at least I can readily admit it. I made reservations at Uchi and Midnight Cowboy, but what do you fine people think are the spots that we shouldn’t miss? It’s been cold and sort of miserable in NY, too, so I’m stoked to get away from this rainy, windy weather and head towards some warm, welcoming sunshine. It looks like we’re going to have glorious mid-80s temperatures during our time there. The vacation gods are smiling down on us, it would seem. So let me know what to do in Austin! Is it worth heading over to the Salt Lick? Is Barton Springs the best outdoor activity? Where are the good happy hours? Tell me your secrets.

mini victoria sponge cakes

An old family photo of Kramer, Jess, Jeena, Travis, and me. We’re cute, right?

As you may know, I’m a big Bonne Maman fan. I’m sure you are, too. Who doesn’t love spreading their lovely strawberry jam over a piece of warm toast, maybe with a little butter? It’s the simple things, really, right? Honestly, sometimes I spend time making a big, beautiful breakfast with a lot of components, especially if we’re lucky enough to have a lazy Sunday with no plans, but sometimes, all I really want is toast with jam and butter. Or these Victoria sponge cakes. I’m not picky. I’ve partnered with Bonne Maman before when I made this jelly doughnut bundt cake, and I’m back at it again with the Bonne Maman because they are awesome and also they’re hosting a Mother’s Day sweepstakes! Visit their site to find out how to enter their Share the Love contest, which you’re going to want to do because they are offering $4,500 so that one lucky mom can have a super fun day off on them. Mother’s Day is only a month away, and your mom deserves to treat herself to a trip to Paris, doesn’t she? If you get your hands on that sweet, sweet, $4.5k, you can make that happen for her. If not, though, you can download a coupon for $2 off a jar of jam and make her these super cute Victoria sponge cakes. That’s what they call a win-win. My friend recently told me about how addictive The Great British Bake Off is, and so when I mentioned I was trying to think of something to make with jam, her first suggestion was a Victoria sponge. I was a little nervous about making it, because apparently this sponge cake is getting into hallowed ground territory for a lot of Brits, but I’ve gotta say, I was pretty, pretty, pretty pleased with these miniature versions. The sponge was just that: spongey. In the best way possible, that is. It was sort of light but also nice and buttery i.e. perfection. I then filled these sweet little vanilla-laced cakes with beautiful strawberry jam and orange-scented whipped cream, topped it all off with powdered sugar, and, as you are wont to do, took them to a bar to share with friends where they were well received. One friend ate four in total. I think if you can’t hook your mom up with an all-expenses-paid day off, the least you could do is make her these mini Victoria sponge cakes. I think she’ll still be happy with them as a runner-up prize. Just make sure you brew her some good coffee or tea to go along with them!

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