Serrano-Spiced Paloma Cocktail

Serrano-spiced paloma cocktail recipe -

Happy Friday, friends. I’m buzzing with ideas after brunch (and entirely too much coffee) with the fine bloggers behind Gimme Some Oven and Minimalist Baker. Hanging out with blog friends always makes this gig seem slightly less absurd.

An example of such absurdity took place yesterday afternoon—I snapped these photos during rare moments of sunshine while cursing the dark clouds rolling overhead. It was a game of cat and mouse, and the winner earned a melting cocktail.

grapefruit and serrano pepper

I glanced through my cocktail selection the other day and realized that the older drinks aren’t exactly representative of the cocktails I order these days. I generally alternate between light, fizzy, clinky drinks (bourbon and soda with lots of lemon, for example) and stupid-expensive, swanky little numbers (believe it or not, this Midwestern city offers some killer cocktails). I’m a sucker for savory accents like peppers or olives and foreign liqueurs that I can’t pronounce. How else am I going to justify a 12-dollar drink, if it doesn’t contain ingredients that I don’t have at home?

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Super Kale, Hemp and Flaxseed Oil Pesto

Get your greens and omega-3's with this kale pesto (ready in 5 minutes!) -

When asked what I do for a living, my response lately has been, “I’m a food blogger,” which is usually met with an eyebrow raise. “What kind of food?” they ask. I explain that I publish tasty recipes that just so happen to be healthy. (I probably need a better elevator pitch.)

I stand by my statement with this pesto. Yes, it’s packed with so-called super foods, but it’s also mighty tasty and ready in 5 minutes flat.

tulips and kale

Hemp seeds are new to me. I’d come across them in health magazines and vegan blogs before, so I knew they’re high in protein and full of essential amino acids. I’m not the kind of person who takes wheat grass shots just because they’re healthy, though. I wasn’t interested in hemp seeds until I read in Martha Steward Living that they actually taste good. Like pine nuts, sorta. Sold!

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Redeeming Green Soup with Lemon and Cayenne

Redeeming green soup with lemon and cayenne -

I hit a wall last week, figuratively speaking. I’ve been so utterly consumed with projects on my to-do list that I’ve neglected the basic necessities. You know, important stuff like sleep, food and time with friends. A person can only neglect that stuff for so long before she breaks down and calls her mama and cries. And by “a person,” I mean me.

In hindsight, I’ve been trying to do way too much at once and I’ve been trying to do it all myself. Examples: applying for a trademark, installing my new light fixture, hemming and hanging curtains, redesigning this website, taking my dog to the vet three times a week, obsessively baking brownies, like, six times until they are just right, and, well, SEND HELP.

kale and cooking greens

If there’s ever a time to hunker down and work on some projects, though, it’s during the depths of winter. Now that the weather is warming up and my to-do list has fewer ambitious projects on it, I’m ready to take it easy. For starters, I’m forcing myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

I also invited my friends over for girls’ night last night. I made them this redeeming and restorative green soup, which our friend Tessa had made for us at a girls’ night past. The recipe came highly recommended from her coworker. I liked it so much that I thought I’d share it with you all.

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The Very Best Brownies.

Rich and fudgy homemade brownies -

Let’s rewind to Valentine’s Day. I’m single. I’m not feeling well. My mom is in town and our plan is to eat dinner and watch movies. As the sun goes down, I decide that I need a brownie—like I really need a brownie, for aforementioned reasons—and proceed to pull every baking book off of my shelves in my search for my ideal brownie recipe.

I wanted rich, dark, chewy, legit café-like brownies with crackly tops. I didn’t want gooey, fall-apart, stick-to-your-front-teeth brownies. I also didn’t want health-ified brownies or brownies swirled with cheesecake. I wanted one perfect brownie. Sometimes a girl just needs a brownie, you know?

cocoa and brown butter

I finally found a promising recipe in my copy of Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. It was a thinner brownie than I wanted, but it looked dark and delicious and had the most magnificent shiny, crackly top. The recipe contains a fair amount of butter, as legit brownies should, and the butter is browned before the addition of sugar and cocoa powder. If you’re going to put a lot of butter in something, you might as well brown it for extra flavor.

Alice’s recipe also called for a lower-than-usual baking temperature (325 degrees) and specified that the brownies be baked in the lower third of the oven. All of the chocolate flavor came from cocoa powder, too. Interesting.

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Blood Orange, Fennel and Avocado Salad with Lemon Citronette

Blood orange, fennel and avocado salad -

Welcome to the redesigned! I’m not quite finished working on it, but I couldn’t stand to keep it in hiding for any longer. The website is finally optimized for viewing on your phone, your iPad, etc. No more pinching and zooming so you can read the recipe! Try it!

Another noteworthy feature is the menu I added underneath the header. It’s designed to help you find the kinds of recipes you’re looking for. Click on ALL RECIPES to see little pictures of every recipe on the site as usual, or narrow your selection by clicking on SALAD, DESSERT, etc. FAVORITES is a list of readers’ favorite recipes, curated by yours truly.

Over in the sidebar, you’ll find lists of special diets and ingredients. I added a gluten free and vegan option for those of you who are trying to avoid gluten and animal products. Please let me know if you’d like to see any other diet combinations and I’ll try to make it happen!

greens and blood orange slices

This redesign has been a long time coming. I did it all myself because I’m very particular (read: control freak). Lots of late nights, Breaking Bad and dark chocolate peanut butter cups were involved. I’m still working on the recipe index pages and the search functionality. If you have any suggestions or feature requests, please let me know! I’m all ears.

Now then, this salad. I’m pretty obsessed with it. Tangy goat cheese and lemon dressing tossed creamy avocado, sweet blood oranges, sliced almonds and greens is a winning combination indeed. I usually want fennel to speak up more (be bold, fennel!), but its faint licorice flavor and crisp texture is the perfect complement here. Enjoy!

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Quick Vegan Chana Masala

Quick Vegan Chana Masala -

Good news! Cookie got her bandage off yesterday. Just a few more long days with the cone around her head. I’m tired of getting herded around by a furry bulldozer! The best news is that the vet said she should be in good shape for our long walks this spring. Sometimes I wonder which of us needs those walks more.

I’ve been working non-stop on a website redesign (coming so soon) but I’m pausing to share this recipe, which is from Angela Liddon’s just-released The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I’m generally intimidated by Indian cooking because the recipes usually call for a long list of unfamiliar spices, so I was happy when I found Angela’s recipe for quick and easy chana masala in the pages of her new cookbook. The recipe comes together quickly with mostly pantry ingredients, but the end result tastes super fresh.

Spices and The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Chana masala is one of my favorite options at Indian buffets. It’s a hearty, saucy and spicy chickpea and tomato dish, just the type of meal I’m craving while there’s snow on the ground. I thoroughly enjoyed the 20 minutes I spent over the stove for this recipe. Wave after wave of deliciousness hit my nose—first, fried cumin, then onions, ginger and chile pepper, followed by warming spices and stewed tomatoes. I think I’ll start cooking Indian recipes more often.

The only significant change I made to this recipe was using a tikka masala spice blend instead of garam masala. Generally speaking, garam masala has more warming spices, like cloves and cinnamon, while tikka masala has brighter notes of chili powder and paprika. Garam masala is the typical choice for chana masala, but I just grabbed the jar I had in my spice drawer. No two masalas (a broad term for Indian spice blends) are exactly alike, anyway. I think you’ll be happy with any quality blend.

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