Frosted Peanut Butter Banana Snack Cake

bonus: win a tin of homemade cookies from me!

Today is Giving Tuesday. It’s a day to focus on giving, philanthropy, and the needs of others. Given the political climate we’re facing today, it’s an especially important day to give what you can and support organizations that are important to you. There’s plenty of ways to help. I understand that not everyone has the ability to make monetary donations, but if that’s something you can swing, your dollars speak louder right now than they ever have before. Progress doesn’t just happen, and change isn’t free. Sacrifice is required, whether that means volunteering, making calls to your local government officials to let them know how you feel about issues that matter, or digging into your wallet to financially support organizations that are fighting on your behalf and the behalf of others. Personally, I am not “over” the outcome of the election. It still breaks my heart and shakes me to my very core. Every article I read or news report I hear about the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic remarks or actions made by individuals involved in the Trump/Pence campaign make me sick. The videos I’ve seen circulated around the internet of people who now feel emboldened to spout hate because “they won” make me furious. But sitting in my apartment, angrily typing or tweeting, isn’t going to help. Action is the only way to fix society and make things better for ourselves and generations to come. That’s why I want to encourage you to donate today, either by volunteering your time or by giving a few bucks. We can do this, but it’s going to take real work to make it happen! And I want to offer an extra incentive by way of a free tin of homemade cookies from your truly. Read on to find out how to score one of those.

frosted peanut butter banana snack cake

A few organizations that are extremely meaningful to me right now are The Young Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. You can read more about The Young Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the efforts to protect Standing Rock through the links provided. What I really need from you is a donation, either by way of time or money. Once you’ve donated or signed up to volunteer in some capacity for any of these organizations, please forward me your email confirmation to I will personally mail 10 people (chosen at random) a tin of my famous homemade chocolate chunk cookies. If a lot of people participate, I’ll open the group up to more. Tell your friends and family to donate, too! You can use the cookies as a way to bring a little holiday cheer to your officemates, keep them in the freezer to enjoy over the course of a few weeks, or eat them all in one sitting. I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to mail out cookies for a good cause. Thank you to all who donate, and an even greater thank you to those that spread the word. Let’s make a difference together. Also, here’s a recipe for a pretty damn good peanut butter banana snack cake. Enjoy!

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Anthony Bourdain’s Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame

your new favorite side dish

I am, like I’m sure many of you are, deeply disturbed by the outcome of this election. My heart breaks for this country, but more, it breaks for my non-white friends, for my LGBTQA+ friends, for my non-Christian friends, for my undocumented friends, and so many others. I know that I let this happen. I didn’t do enough. I posted a bunch of pithy stuff on Facebook, sat back, and waited. I was not active and I was not political. I didn’t listen, I just shouted my own dumb opinions for the echo-chamber of my Facebook page to hear. I was so sure that Hillary had this in the bag, for all her faults. She was the most qualified candidate. She wasn’t talking about creating a database of Muslims, and her vice president wasn’t talking about repealing Roe v. Wade. Neither of them were talking about making the deportation of two or three million people one of their top priorities. I’m using this platform to discuss how I feel because this is my blog and that is my right. Any negative comments will be deleted. This is a safe space for those that are hurting. I’m going to be volunteering with The Young Center, I’ve made donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International. I’m going to a group meeting this week to talk about more ways we can work together to do good and enact change. I am going to remain vigilant and be active and not let this happen again. I encourage you to go to protests in your area to show that we will not be silenced. Facebook is a great way to find marches and rallies in your area. Please feel free to contact me via the link to the left if you want help finding ways to be active in your area, or even if you feel alone and want to talk. I’ll be here.

anthony bourdain roasted cauliflower with sesame
Cookies that I brought to a march on Sunday to hand out to people. You can still use small gestures as a way to show people you care.

anthony bourdain roasted cauliflower with sesame

As always, cooking and baking can help to heal, so that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites, has been helping inspire me to get in the kitchen and use my hands and do what I love to do, even if I might not necessarily feel like it right now. He is the reason I started cooking in the first place, to be honest. The itself book is truly a breath of fresh air. Its recipes are uncomplicated and approachable. They are dishes that he likes to make for his family, be it a big Sunday night dinner or a simple weeknight meal that can be thrown together quickly. The photos are both personal and silly, and the writing is, of course, extremely Bourdain. If you are a fan, then you know what that means. The dessert section consists of one page, for example, where he talks about how he is terrible at pastry, but if you want to put out a great dessert, just throw down some Stilton and your guests will love you forever. There’s another chapter titled “Big Fucking Steak.” So yeah, it’s ya’ boy, back at it again. I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite cookbooks for the rest of my life, and I’ve found myself flipping through it over and over again. This roasted cauliflower is one of the gems in the book that truly inspires me to get in the kitchen. It’s nothing fancy, but you do have to get yourself a tub of tahini (sesame paste) and miso (fermented soybeans). I usually have both of these in my fridge at all times, and I recommend that you start doing the same. They are both incredibly versatile ingredients that lend themselves to just about anything, like this cauliflower. Roasted until nice and crispy, and broken apart by hand instead of chopped to hell with a knife (try it, your cauliflower world will be forever changed), and tossed in a creamy, salty mixture of tahini, miso, and vinegar, there’s nothing not to love here. Kramer and I ate it over the course of a week as a side to some pork that I also made from the book (I’ll be posting that soon, as well) and I only lamented that I couldn’t eat all of the cauliflower by myself. You probably will, too.


Mini Scallion Pancake Challah Buns

with sesame seeds

OH EM GEE Cynthia of Two Red Bowls added a tiny human to her family! His name is Luke and I already want to borrow his cool hat. Cool Hat Luke, if you will. Anyway, to celebrate this exciting occasion, Stephanie from i am a food blog and Alana from Fix Feast Flair got a bunch of other food bloggers together to make things in BOWLS (get it) as our way of congratulating the Bs. Congrats, guys! You did it. I’m definitely drooling and wishing I had more than a few of these things to gnaw on for breakfast, but for now, I’ll have to be content with my yogurt (that I’m also eating out of a bowl) and think about weekend baking and cooking projects to come. Head over to the other blogs to take a look at what they’ve come up with, or scroll on and find out how to make these baby-sized challah buns made with the softest dough I ever did touch with my own two hands.

mini scallion pancake challah buns

The dough, of course, comes from Molly Yeh’s new cookbook, Molly on the Range. I am in awe of how great this book is. There’s no banana bread recipe in there because we all have enough banana bread recipes. It’s truly inspiring. Instead of banana bread, you’ll find things like sesame coffee cake and homemade baloney and THIS scallion pancake challah. Only for my purposes, I made what is normally a beautifully braided loaf into tiny scallion pancake buns because we were supposed to make something in a bowl but I also really wanted to make this challah. This dough is literally the best. I’m not the greatest with breads, honestly–I tend to overknead or overproof my dough because I am forgetful, but this dough is apparently extremely forgiving because I didn’t mess it up. By adding a brush of sesame seed oil and a sprinkle of scallions (and maybe some garlic powder because you can), you really get the best of both worlds. A savory, yeasty, pillowy bread that will make your friends say stuff like, “YOU made this?” (thanks for the confidence, Jeena). There’s really nothing quite like the smell or taste of freshly baked bread, and believe me, my apartment smelled unbelievably good the day that I made these. Pulling each knot of challah apart and seeing the steam rise up and out of the bread before popping a piece in your mouth is pure heaven, and thankfully, this recipe makes for a LOT of buns, so you won’t have to ration them out. Thanks to Molly for the recipe, WAHOO to Cynthia on the birth of her baby boy, and way to go Stephanie and Alana for getting us all together to celebrate. Now let’s all eat some bread.

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Candy Corn Chocolate Chip Cookies

with sea salt

When do you start feeling like you’re too old for Halloween? It’s sort of starting to feel that way to me. I’m almost 28 and this is really the first year that the thought of dressing up exhausts me. I’m usually pretty good about it! But I’ve never had more going on in my life than I have in 2016, so maybe it’s not the thought of getting dressed up that’s exhausting but just things in general, hah! I am attempting a costume, though, and I ordered Kramer a banana suit because that’s just plain funny, so we’ll see how the night ends up. I really want to go see the new Ouija movie, because I love being scared shitless, apparently, and then we’ve got a party to go to on Saturday night. This is also the first Sunday in a while where we have ZERO plans and I am honestly looking forward to that the most. I can’t wait to nurse my Halloween hangover from the couch all damn day. That’s the plan for now, anyway. What are you guys going to be for Halloween? Inspire me!

candy corn chocolate chip cookies
Just come stuff I’ve been up to at work! You can check out INSIDER Food and INSIDER Dessert to see what videos I’m working on lately.

The best part about Halloween, other than scary movies, is the candy, obviously. Last year I was at a party where there were tables full of different kinds of candy, and my friends and I just kept shoving handfuls in our pockets like it was the last day we’d ever see Halloween candy again in our lives. Seeing Mounds bars and Snickers and gummy worms and all that stuff just sets off some kind of weird nostalgia spark in my brain and makes me feel like I MUST HAVE IT ALL RIGHT NOW. And then I found a few pieces in my jacket pocket like two days later, so yeah, I felt that bogarting all the candy was a good move on my part. I also really love candy corn, which I couldn’t take fistfuls of because nothing’s weirder than a girl who’s walking around with loose candy corns in her pockets. But I do love candy corn nonetheless, they’re like chewy, marshmallow-y marzipan, and people who don’t like it don’t know what they’re missing. I grabbed a bag at the store the other day, thinking maybe I’d just then a garnish on a cake or cupcakes or whatever, but then I thought, screw it, let’s just throw them into a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They melted a little bit, which I think looks kind of cool and on-theme for the holiday, but I recommend throwing them in the freezer or fridge for a little bit before you bake with them, because I think that will help keep the more in-tact. Despite that, I gave these out to my candy corn-loving brethren and they were well received by all. I also added some black and orange sprinkles to the mix (black bats and orange pumpkins, specifically), because I had them leftover from last year and I had to get rid of them. They made for some extra spooky Halloween treats, don’t you think?

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Lemon Dream Layer Cake

with lemon cream

Long time, no see, right guys? I know I’ve been MIA recently, and I’ve even gotten a few texts/Tweets/emails asking when I planned to update the blog again. I know lots of people comment and read this thing, but somehow I still sometimes feel like nobody really cares too much about what I’m doing here (and I mean, honestly, why would they, it’s a blog, there are a million of them), so those of you that reached out, thank you for making me feel incredibly special and loved. Really! I can’t tell you how touched I am when someone asks where I’ve been or what I’m up to or whatever. I’m a part of something and it’s an incredible feeling, not to get too sentimental on you or anything. But yeah, I could blame it on work or whatever else, though I guess I just needed a bit of a break. By the time I get home at night, after being at work all day and then spending the evening either at some event, getting drinks with friends, or maybe even the gym, I get home, make dinner or do chores or whatever else it is that adults are supposed to do to lead healthy, normal lives, and it’s often hard to motivate myself to hop back on my laptop and start editing photos and writing recipes when all I really want to do is zone the hell out and watch some TV or talk to my husband for five minutes. I do miss working on the blog, though. Even sitting here right now, typing out whatever fluff pops into my brain, makes me feel good. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that I can’t quite describe but after doing this for eight years now, it’s almost like putting on a favorite sweatshirt or listening to a favorite album. It’s weird, I know, but even being away for, what, two or three weeks, makes me miss blogging a whole lot. So I’m going to try harder to be here, to work on this little project of mine, because honestly, I need it. It’s my outlet, my baby, the thing I’ve come to view as a really big part of myself, and even if I’m tired or lazy or whatever, I should make time for it. I get to come here and talk, be it about something trivial like a movie I really liked recently, or more serious, like the anxiety I often feel and am alleviated from by taking photos and recipe testing. So hi, hello, I’m back! Thanks for sticking around.

lemon dream layer cake
I missed you guys, did you miss me?

There’s a bar near my apartment that Kramer and I frequent perhaps a little too much, but it’s basically our Cheers, so we like going. It’s super close and the bartenders are all incredibly friendly, the music is great, and there’s a big, beautiful backyard to hang out in when the weather is tolerable, which for New Yorkers, means anything above freezing. That’s why when one of my favorite bartenders asked if I could make a cake for her friend’s birthday party, I was like, “Yeah, duh.” I wanted it to be extra special, but I’m admittedly not an impressive cake-maker. I can whip up something ~rustic~ pretty easily, but decorating a cake is kind of a daunting task for me. That’s why I turned to lemons. I love a good lemon curd, or in this case, a dreamy lemon cream, and I figured that plus a solid lemon cake could do me no wrong. I did a bit of adjusting, specifically making my cakes a bit bigger because I wanted to make a four-layer cake and knew that my shaky cake-slicing skills would fail me if I tried to slice through a thinner 8-inch round, but otherwise, it was pretty smooth sailing. The directions look daunting, I admit, but this was a cake I spaced out over the course of a few days so as to not go insane. I made the lemon cream a few days ahead of time, and I even made the cakes themselves about a week ahead of time, froze them, and then thawed them out a day before I planned to assemble everything. This is something I highly, highly, highly recommend, because it actually makes for a more moist, yet more sturdy cake, and it gives you more free time on the weekends to binge whatever TV show you’re super into. I also discovered that just piping a bunch of extra buttercream and lemon cream all over your cake in random areas ends up looking pretty good, if I do say so myself, so there’s that. If you like lemon meringue pie or lemon bars or anything tart and sweet and bursting with flavor, then this is truly the cake for you, be it your birthday or otherwise. Thanks for asking me to make this, Anne! It was an honor.

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Curried Beet Salad

with fava beans

Well, summer’s over, but we had one last hurrah in Virginia and it was phenomenal. Every year, Kramer’s dad and his girlfriend rent a house on the beach somewhere, and the whole family comes out to relax, sunbathe, eat, and do whatever else. I look forward to it every year, and this year was really something else. They went all out on the house, which was not only right on the beach, but had both an indoor and an outdoor pool. It was honestly insane. I felt like a dog with two toys. Which one do I pick? Kramer and I invited our friends Jeena and Taren to come along, since the house was huge, and we all drove down together, which was fun in and of itself. Who doesn’t love a good road trip, filled with snacks and music and rejuvenating car naps? It was great. I even got a slight tan, which is sort of amazing if you know me and my pasty white body. All in all, the vacation was exactly what we needed to end the summer. I’ve got more photos, obviously, but I’m sharing the first batch that I’ve gone through thus far. Yeah, we had a pretty good time.

curried beet salad

Kramer living his best life.

This salad was something I made a few months ago, but put on the back burner in favor of things like pies and cupcakes and whatnot. I don’t think fava beans are in season anymore, but no matter – you can easily sub chickpeas or black beans or any other legume that you’re fond of, and it’ll probably cut some steps out of the recipe, too, since favas have to be blanched and peeled. Either way, I was inspired by this salad from Bon Appetit, but used what I had readily available and made the dressing a bit sweeter, to my liking. I also added the beet greens from the beets, which I usually throw away, but I wanted to add something extra to this salad, preferably green, and wouldn’t you know it, beet greens are super good for you and tasty, too! So I quickly blanched those and added them to the mix. I was surprised at how well received this bowl o’ beets was by the people I served it to. I was even asked for the recipe, if you can believe it! See, people do love vegetables.

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

with 7-minute frosting

Hey! Fancy meeting you here. I know I’ve been out of the game for a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy, work’s been cutting into my blog time, and honestly, summer’s sort of gotten the better of me. In a good way, for sure, but still, I really miss blogging so I’m going to try to make an effort to do better on that front. It’s just been so nice outside, all I want to do after work is grab a drink with friends and sit on a roof or in a backyard or something, not sit inside on my computer after doing that all day at the office. Not that I’m necessarily staring at a screen all day at work, though, I do have a pretty sweet gig. You can follow me on Instagram to see what I’m up to most days. It’s exciting, and it’s usually to do with some kind of delicious food. For example, yesterday, I went to a spot called Emmy Squared and did a video about their delicious gochujang-marinated fried chicken sandwich, followed by–get ready for this–a Rice Krispie treat ice cream sandwich. So yeah, I filmed that, interviewed the adorable married couple who own the restaurant, went to work, edited a video, wrote a script for another video, then did some recipe research, because today, I’m going into our test kitchen to work on some recipe videos. So yeah, life is good, but you can also imagine why the last thing I sometimes want to do when I get home is do more editing and more recipe testing. Summer’s coming to a close, though, so I imagine that means more indoor time and more cooking time. I do love cooking at home, obviously, but when you live somewhere with a summer as short as New York’s, there’s a slight pressure to enjoy it to the fullest before it’s allllll gone. AND guess what? I am low-key tan this summer. I’m not T A N, per say, but for me, I have some color for the very first time in my life, and I am extremely proud of myself for it. It’s the little things, ya know?

cinnamon toast crunch cupcakes

Summer stuff.

One of the perks of being a blogger-slash-video producer is that sometimes people send you random stuff. Nothing crazy, but occasionally I’ll get an unexpected package of, say, five pounds of fresh black cherries (that happened) or, in this case, a box of General Mills cereals. They were doing some kind of contest involving dressing your pets up, but I don’t have any pets, so I just figured I’d make something fun with the cereal. I got a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a box of Cocoa Puffs (still thinking on that one), and a box of Honey Nut Cheerios which I generously gave to my friend because I’m a good person. If you’re looking for cereal, come find me! Either way, my friend Ashlee was having a birthday party a few weeks ago, and while I r-a-r-e-l-y make cupcakes, like very rarely, I decided to give it a go. I wanted to use the CTC, after all, and Kramer was on a business trip at the time, so I had a free afternoon with nothing really going on. The verdict on these cupcakes? They’re freaking awesome. The cake was spongy and moist, and I loved the little surprise of cinnamon-sugar and cereal in the middle. I was going to go for a simple buttercream for the frosting, but at the last minute, switched to a 7-minute frosting, which is actually a lot easier than it sounds and creates this lovely marshmallow-like fluff that spreads like a dream and goes perfectly with the cereal. It’s almost like the milk you’d normally be missing, so I dug it. I topped everything with more cereal and cinnamon-sugar, and ta-da! Cupcakes I can be proud of, which is not something I can say very often, as I am terrible at decorating cupcakes, generally, but these turned out great, so hey! Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

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Warm Blueberry Shortcakes

with flaky biscuits

I made these shortcakes over a month ago for the Fourth of July. They’re pretty patriotic-looking, aren’t they? They just scream “USA!” to me, which I suppose is perfect since we’re all watching the Olympics right now. Everyone loves strawberry shortcakes, so I figured, why not do the same thing with blueberries, which, in my opinion, are a superior fruit (sorry strawberries). Blueberries are wonderful in New York in the summer, and I love walking to work in the mornings, passing through the Union Square Greenmarket, and smelling all of the berries being warmed by the sun. I know that is literally the most twee sentence I could possibly write, but it’s true. The hot, humid, muggy summer air in NYC lends itself to only one good thing, and that’s trapping the scent of ripening summer berries. It really saves my soul after I get out of the awful, crowded subway.

warm blueberry shortcakes
I still have a few random photos from our California trip last month.

These shortcakes were, for lack of a better term, the shit. They were awesome. This is everything I want in a dessert: something flaky and buttery, something light and airy to cut through the richness of the aforementioned buttery thing, and fruit (lots of fruit). This was like the best deconstructed pie you could possibly imagine. I love peeled layers of these biscuits apart and topping each bit with a little whipped cream and a couple of juicy berries, enjoying each bite slowly because I know I probably shouldn’t go back for seconds (though I just might do that, anyway). I brought these to a barbecue to share with friends and they were all super into building their own shortcakes to eat. I used my favorite biscuit recipe this time around, but I do certainly hold a special place in my heart for those sweet, spongy packages shortcakes that you can buy at the store. My mom always bought them in the summer, and as kids, we’d fill them with sliced strawberries and Cool Whip. It was one of the best things ever, and I always waited just a little bit so the cakes would get a tiny bit soggy from the fruit before digging in. I recommend doing the same with these.

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