PB&J bars (and baking mistakes)

Ah, baking. I’m marginally better at baking than I am at cooking, but even then I’m mediocre at best and usually stick to chocolate chip cookies. I decided to go rogue and make these PB&J bars from Real Simple. Here are my learnin’s.

1. When they say in a recipe you should spoon and level your flour, you should really spoon and level your flour.

See exhibit B, the bigger bowl on the right, which is 1 and 3/4 cups of spooned flour. And exhibit A, the smaller bowl on the left, which is how much extra flour would have ended up in my recipe if I had continued with the usual method of mashing my measuring cup into the bag.

2. Maybe read all the extra stuff at the end of the ingredient, since it’s probably pretty important?
Like, apparently “butter at room temperature” is different than “butter that has been in your fridge for months.”  (If one hypothetically finds oneself in this situation, there are a few solutions.)

The PB&J bars actually turned out pretty damn good.

A homemade Thai feast

For this Thai dinner that DB cooked, I mostly just asked, “What is that?” (Answers: palm sugar, green papaya, and “I don’t know” – but according to Google it’s probably Chinese flowering cabbage.)


Green papaya salad

Green papaya salad


Pad kee mao


FruitQuest 2.0

Name these fruits!

Did you guess rambutan, mangosteen, and lychee?

DB turned a trip to Hawaii in January into a FruitQuest. We tried lilikoi, rambutan, sugar fruit, soursop, pomalo, and one particularly ill-advised durian smoothie. On a scorcher of a hike to Ka’ena Point on our second day (without enough water, oops), we broke open a rambutan with a rock and it was pretty much the best thing I have tasted. Back in NYC, it’s been much harder to get exotic fruits, but apparently Chinatown is where it’s at and DB has made a few pilgrimages.

They just don’t last very long.

11pm scallion pancake

scallionpancake.jpgDB made a delicious scallion pancake as part of our late-night dinner. He started making them regularly last summer whenever scallions were included in his CSA, which, luckily for me, was fairly frequently.

As usual, he winged the details, but the recipe looks something like this one, except apparently we prefer our scallion pancakes frisbee-sized.



Wine highlight: Jam Jar

If you see this bottle, pick it up, take it to the counter, open your wallet, and fork over the whole $7.99 it costs because it is deeelicious. My wine knowledge is pretty much limited to color (“That’s a red wine!”), so I will only say that it tastes like berries, is very sweet for a red, and is awesome for drinking in the summer.*

Jam Jar head shot.jpg

*Disclaimer: This is coming from someone who enjoys Strawberry André and has only once met a wine she didn’t like. (It must’ve been a bad bottle – there is no other explanation.)

Quinoa is a many-splendored thing

When DB suggested making a chocolate quinoa cake as part of a brunch we were hosting, I thought he was a little crazy. I delicately suggested (my words, not his…) that perhaps we should have a test run and make one the weekend before? Alas, we were too busy watching Game of Thrones season 2 to get around to it, so my alternate plan was to get mimosas into people’s hands as soon as they walked through the door, just in case.

But wow, was it good! Who doesn’t love eating chocolate cake and getting to say, “Well, you know, it’s basically a superfood….”

Chocolate quinoa cake

DB got this recipe from a friend of his so I don’t know its original source, but here is his friend Jasmine’s version:

Quinoa Chocolate cake

2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled [Note: coconut oil was key!]
1 1/2 cups maple syrup (or sugar if you are so inclined) [And so was the maple syrup!]
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cook quinoa in water. Allow to cool completely.
Pre-heat oven to 350. Prepare an 8 inch spring-form pan with butter and parchment. [We used a bundt pan.]
Mix eggs, vanilla, milk and maple syrup (if using) in a bowl. Add 2 cups cooked quinoa, combine, then add butter till smooth. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to wet. Place in cake pan and bake for approx. 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

1/2 cup whipping cream
4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate

Heat cream until scalding hot. Pour over chocolate (in glass bowl) and whisk till smooth. Let cool two minutes then pour over cake.


Ever wonder what cubes of venison cooking in peanut and coconut oil look like?

Me neither. But here’s how it went down:

This was the first time I’ve ever had venison and it was actually pretty good. Anyone else like it?

Would you drink a beet cocktail?

Apparently I can’t get away from those darn beets!

Beet cocktail

I’m officially a grown-up: I like brussels sprouts!

Maybe I haven’t had enough vitamin K recently, or I just haven’t made the trip to Tipsy Parson in Chelsea in a while, but yesterday I was downright craving brussels sprouts. I found a recipe for molasses brussels sprouts on Five and Spice, and I had some shallots on hand so we threw those in as well. Here are the sprouts getting all molasses-ed up.molasses-brussels-sprouts

All was going well until I was distracted chatting with DB and mistakenly opened the “let there be salt” side of the salt container and dumped a good couple of tablespoons on my poor brussels sprouts. salt-lesson-learned

Luckily I was able to scrape off most of the sea salt, although we did have to leave a few good sprouts behind. We rounded off the meal with roasted beets with goat cheese (I may be warming up to them), lentils mixed with dijon mustard, lemon juice, and a pepper, and a Brooklyn Local 1. Not bad! Next up: working on my food photography skills….



If you’re going to have grilled cheese, it might as well be giant

20130315-230459.jpg Best grilled cheese I’ve had in the city? The giant grilled cheese at Le Cheile on 181st St. They aren’t stingy with their fries either.

DB shared an awesome grilled cheese secret, which is to put just a small smear of spicy mustard on the bread – so little that you wouldn’t even know it was there unless someone told you. Pair that with the Barefoot Contessa’s tomato soup, and you have a delicious meal that even I’ve been able to successfully make.