and guilt rears its head

oh hi guys.

i vanished for a little bit.  i didn’t do it on purpose, but sometimes the days just pass so quick and before you know it summer has arrived and i haven’t said a thing on here in weeks.  i wish i had a better excuse like, ‘oh sorry, i was traveling the world/curing diseases’ or ‘my social calendar has been jam-packed’ but none of those are the case.

i’ve made nigella’s chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, deb’s blueberry crumb bars, and a jalapeno infused tequila that made for some very spicy margaritas consumed on our balcony.  i love sitting out there, perched above the sidewalk, people-watching and judging those who don’t pick up after their dog, or can’t parallel park into a spot twice the size of their car.  and it’s even better when you have a seasonally appropriate beverage.

the cheesecake was made all the way back for mother’s day.  as part of my ‘gift’ i also made dinner for my mom and grandma, who were oh-so-happy to oblige me and enjoy their day of shopping and sitting back while someone else made food things happen (when moms don’t have to cook they are very happy).   however, i think dessert was the clear winner.  it was crazy intense peanut butter flavor but oh so awesome.  cpbcc


and the crumb bars, oh those crumb bars.  blueberry desserts are my summer staple, and every year i make cobbler because i think nothing is better than blueberry cobbler.  but these….well, they might be better.  i made them for a friend’s birthday party… and they were like handheld blueberry cobblers!  which is pretty much what i dream of when i dream of summer, and now you will, too.  so go make them before it’s too late.bars

also- signed up for another 5k in late july.  yes, late july.  hot, humid, oppressive late july.  normally i wouldn’t have leaped at this opportunity, but it’s to help a friend who is organizing the event to benefit the organization she works for.  if you live in the new york area and want to help out, go here to get more info.  i finally bought some warm-weather running apparel, so training has begun.  i’m always amazed, and disappointed, at how quickly i lose progress if i don’t maintain my routine.  the warmer temps aren’t exactly helping either.  but, onwards we go.

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mix & match

i spent last weekend with evan in phoenix at the arizona biltmore.  we were there for a family matter of the unfortunate and sad kind, after already going through the boston incident, it was a rough week.  it was ridiculously hot outside.  our northeast spring has been slow-coming, and at first i was looking forward to a change in temperature.  but i, the sun worshiper, could not stand more than 5 minutes in direct light.  it was HOT.

so, let’s talk about something good.  something like food.

at the lunch buffet there was also a sweets table with itty bitty bite size treats.  among them was a flourless chocolate torte that took on the shape of a pyramid with glitter on it.  i was at first skeptical of everything about it.  do you really need glitter on chocolate to entice me to eat it?  (that answer is no, by the way, if anyone is keeping record)

and then i ate it.  and then i changed my mind.  it was pretty fantastic.  myself, evan, his brother and his brother’s fiance all had seconds (maybe thirds) of the sparkly chocolate pyramid.  the seed was now planted in my brain and i knew when we returned home it was absolutely going to be my next project.

cake aerial

isn’t is lovely?  looking back now, project seems too hefty a word, because this took me about 30 minutes to throw together.  although i have to admit it isn’t a true flourless cake (i had to add some flour and cocoa powder to stretch it out).  the result is denser than regular cake but not fudgey thick.


i had some leftover whipped ganache frosting in the freezer from my birthday cake, about 1.5-ish cups worth.  here’s my macgyver-ed recipe:

practically-flourless chocolate cake

preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.  melt down the ganache in a double boiler with some butter.  after letting it cool for a bit, add 2 beaten eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  then add about 1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (depends on how sweet you want).  next, sift in about 1/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup black cocoa powder*, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and mix to combine.  pour into a 9″ round cake pan lined with parchment on the bottom and greased on the sides.  bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.  let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then remove and let completely cool on a rack.  can be served as is or sprinkled with powdered sugar, and anything else you can imagine.


*black cocoa powder is awesome and gives any chocolate recipe a deep dark hue that cannot compare to regular dutch process cocoa powder.  i used E. Guittard.

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a strange monday

i went on a run today.  it wasn’t a particularly good run.  i had no energy.  it took every fiber of my being to go as far as i did, which was not far at all.  but i went out as a kind of solidarity thing for yesterday’s tragedy at the boston marathon.

yesterday was off to a good start.  after a fun birthday weekend, i was doing some shopping and getting some additional birthday freebies.  afterwards, i went home to check the status of evan’s stepmom, who was running the marathon.  as she neared the finish her stats weren’t reloading as before.  when a long stretch of time passed with no updates, i began to wonder if something happened.  i shrugged it off, figuring it was just a site issue.  i went to yahoo with intentions of switching back immediately, when the headline appeared about explosions near the finish.  panic set in.

it’s a very unsettling feeling to know a city you called home for a few years, a street your school was on, sidewalks you crossed over countless times, a joyous event you watched from the sidelines, is now overwhelmed in grief.  thankfully, everyone we know up there is alright.  marathon monday, or patriot’s day is supposed to be a celebration, and i know i’m not a born-and-raised bostonian, but through my connections to the city, yesterday was still painful to see happen.

boston is a wonderful, beautiful, tough, resilient city.  i spent some very formative years there.  it’s a long road ahead, but they will bounce back.  sending all my love.

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sorry to facebook and twitter friends who are seeing this a 2nd or 3rd time…. but i’m too excited to not share this again.  that’s me, in the neon, finishing my first 5k.  it was a very cold march morning, freezing, actually.  it was a slow start, but halfway through as the crowds thinned out i was feeling good.  the knee, while still leaving some bruising behind, did not bother me at all.  my official time was 34;36, so i am very happy with that!  Image

just woke up from a lovely nap.  have a great weekend, everyone!

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murphy’s law? is that you?

last night i saw ‘the book of mormon’, which was a wonderful, hilarious, charming show.  see it, even if it’s a 5 month wait, go see it.  evan received a ticketmaster gift card from my parents for his birthday.  in april.  of last year.  so… that was a nice thing to finally get around to.  his first broadway show- so exciting!  i had warned him the seats would be tiny and it might not be comfortable for a 6’1″ fella like himself. 

and then i’m the one who ends up with the banged up knee. our seats were in the first row of the upper mezzanine, so there were no seats in front of us, just an iron guardrail type thing.  i managed to bash my kneecap into it twice while moving about either to adjust my coat or let others pass by.  the initial pain passed, and then at intermission when i went to use the stairs… sweet jesus, mary, and joseph!  of course- i get a knee injury while not running.

iced it as soon as we got home, over 2 hours after the incident.  this normally would only be a minor inconvenience walking about.  but that 5k i’ve been gearing up for is this weekend, and i had wanted to get in one more run before then.  clearly that is not happening now.  i’m really hoping this heals up enough by saturday.  fingers crossed.

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eat and run

oh my god, you guys!  the impossible happened!

on my saturday run, my beautiful spring-like saturday run in the park, i finally hit my target of running a 5k!  3.13 miles in 35:24!  the official race is 2 weeks away- so as long as i can maintain the mileage and don’t injure myself, i feel like i’m in good position to finish and be proud.  i am rather glad it’s not january anymore.  training in sub-freezing temps is SO not my jam.  the issue now is rain.  currently i’m avoiding it.

meanwhile, for as much as i’ve been running, it’s also been a game of “how many things can i make that are completely counter-productive to all my hard work?”  last week was a simple vanilla bean panna cotta, and shortbread cookies.  i had recently taken possession of some sheet gelatin, and wanted to see what i could make with it.  when i saw how easy this panna cotta recipe was, i had to try it.  and it’s true, if it takes you longer than 5 minutes to put together, you have probably done something wrong.  a few hours in the fridge and ta-da!  gelatin.  it’s magic.  and the shortbread?  oh lordy, i won’t be ordering the girl scout trefoils anymore.

panna cotta with shortbread

this week i have another project i’ve been gearing up for, and am excited to finally put it to the test.  more on that another time.

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2 sticks of butter later…

i’ve done a dangerous thing.

last night i made the pâte brisée from bouchon bakery. in a stand mixer, like it said. it was easy. but more importantly it was delicious!


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slightly forbidden fruits

while we’re in the midst of lent, what is a better time to look at delicious things that you may or not have given up in your annual attempts at catholicism.  i may have just been talking about me, but….i think i’m not alone.

candied nutshere are some super addicting nuts i found on smitten kitchen.  they are fantasticly easy and almost impossible to stop eating.  i am glancing at them from across the room, like they will sprout legs and leave me before i ca grab another handful.  if you can afford to buy several pounds of nuts at a time, do it because they will vanish.

crackersanother option in my home-made christmas gifts were these cheese & herb crackers.  i saw ina garten make them and after trying it out myself, i really had to refrain from saying her ‘how easy is that?’ catchphrase, because, it really was that easy!  they taste like better versions of goldfish or cheeze-its, and will certainly make you think twice about shelling out five dollars for a sleeve of crackers.  you can probably do any cheese/herb combination  that you fancy.  both of these are surefire ways to impress at your next party, or to give as gifts if you’re not one for flowers or scented candles.


these are the bows and struffoli (back) my mom and i make every year for christmas.  they are an italian specialty.  dough that is cut and pinched into ‘bows’ or wreath shapes, (struffoli are rolled out into marble sized balls) fried golden brown, and coated in honey.  according to my grandma, my grandpa preferred the way she made struffoli to his mother’s.  so what happens?  one day, his mother asks my grandma for her recipe!  the struffoli are much more commonly seen around, because the bows are much more labor-intensive.  passing the dough through the pasta machine, cutting them into strips, and pinching them together.  i think the greater surface area on the bows makes them better tasting, but struffoli are fun to pick at.  regardless of which is better, this is a unique tradition that i am glad to continue on for another generation.

caramellastly, here is a sea-salt caramel sauce i made.  if you have never made caramel before, it can certainly be a scary thing.  i was petrified, but the desire to make my own caramel just edged out the fear, so i continued.  melting sugar until it juuuust starts to smoke?  yes!  adding butter and cream that make it bubble and hiss at you?  yes!  potential for third degree burns?  you bet!  but i have made it three times now, and am injury free.  it’s great on apples, ice cream, or right out of the jar.

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so, does anyone watch the grammys anymore?

i say that every year, and then i end up watching the grammys because it’s sunday night and nothing else is on (except for those amazing atlanta housewives).  i used to be much more invested in the show when i was a teenager.  but now… it’s more of an afterthought, as compared to other awards shows.

i did enjoy jack white’s performance and his sparkly peacock/eyeball ensemble.  i’ve been a fan of his work since seeing him in the guitar documentary ‘it might get loud’ featuring himself, the edge, and jimmy page.  i went to see it, dragged my boyfriend to see it, i made absolutely sure to see it in the theatre, because i HAD to.  it ended up being a very different experience from most other movies because people were cheering when the musician they liked best appeared.  as a massive U2 fan i was giddy with excitement to see the edge.  and you know, that jimmy page guy is pretty cool, too.  everyone was excited to be there, and at the end there was wild applause and cheering much like the end of a concert.  this also happened when i saw U23D, which was another awesome experience.  i know all movies can’t be like that, but sometimes it would be nice.  so….was it like that with the harry potter/lord of the rings??

i wouldn’t know, as i have successfully managed to not see any of those.  i know, i know, you are incredibly disappointed in this information.  and this is probably difficult to believe, because, pretty much everyone has seen at least one of those franchises with a degree of loyalty.  but it’s true, and i’m okay with that.  i never read the books either.  some co-workers even tried to get me to watch the first lord of the rings a few years ago but it didn’t work out that well.  A+ for an incredible collaborative group effort but that’s where it ended.

and now in remarkably smooth transitions, an update on my 5k training efforts!  my battle with the weather is slowing down the amount of times i can go outside, which is not optimal.  and i still can’t bring myself to pay for a gym.  but i try to get out twice a week, three times if i am really on it and do laundry.  i probably need more running clothes, because weather is one obstacle, i don’t need the lack of clean clothes to set me back further.  i’m about 5 weeks out from the race, so it’s starting to get more…real.  just focusing on distance at the moment, and if i can work on my pace later on, then great.

i found my christmas food photos.  maybe i will post some later!

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think warm thoughts

so last week began my 5k training.  which went well in that i managed to get out and run every time i said i would, but that’s where it ended.  taking a 2+ month break is, as one would imagine, not a good idea when you are telling everyone you know that you intend on running a 5k.  i felt that if i kept saying it, then i couldn’t back out.  so there’s a good way to keep a new year’s resolution.  guilt.  you’re welcome.

i knew i was not going to jump right back to my usual pace, but when it was actually not happening, that good old standby, catholic guilt, kicked in, making me regret my break (but eating christmas snacks was so much fun!).

it was nothing short of a bloody miracle that my legs felt okay the next day.  now here we are this week and it’s a cold snap.  i went out yesterday in 19 degrees and wind.  that is all kinds of cold.  smartwool leggings, shorts, long sleeve wicking shirt, windbreaker, hat, gloves, scarf, sunglasses.  it was… a look.  as soon as i got outside i cursed, and bolted down the street in an effort to warm up.  it was not fun, but i did it.  it is strange- that i would feel warmer running outside than i do right now- inside my apartment.  the baseboards apparently need to be replaced.  our landlord knows, so i’m hoping the plumber is available tomorrow.  until then i daydream of ramen-filled bathtubs, and surrender my impulse to bake just to generate some extra warmth.  maybe it’s time to put that bouchon bakery cookbook to good use.

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