It’s no secret (to those who know me, anyway) that I’m a math & science person at heart. Numbers speak to me, process comforts me, and exactness is a standard I treasure. I think that’s how I got into baking in the first place — it’s all math and science. Precise quantities and timing and chemical reactions. I’ve always felt comfortable with a reliable recipe, as it gives me confidence that I’ll be able to replicate the outcome (assuming my oven isn’t a total pile of poo that day). It’s a recent development that I’ve ventured into cooking, into playing with flavors, and into just… winging it. It’s part of this long-term project I have to loosen up more as a person, and has been accompanied by immersing myself in the arts, and talking about my feelings, and sometimes being late to parties, and wearing mismatched socks, and dripping egg yolk down the front of my newest blouse…
So, the other day, I was making banana bread, which is kind of an old stand-by “I am making this SOLELY for the purpose of not having my kitchen smell like rotting food” project. I had my own recipe, but I apparently hadn’t had any coffee or meth or ATP that day so halfway through I realized I had been arbitrarily pulling ingredient quantities from like three different recipes. All of which made different numbers of loaves.
A few minutes of winging it and about an hour of baking time later, I had the best damn banana bread I had ever tasted. And then I made it two more times and it was still the best. So… here you go. A loaf of personal-development banana bread.
Here’s to having NO IDEA what you’re doing sometimes.
Recipe: nutella banana bread
- 5 very ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup nutella
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a loaf pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Do it with your hands. It’s fun.
- Whisk in butter, eggs, and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Add to wet mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop nutella on top of the batter and swirl with a knife to distribute it a little more evenly across the top and to marble it a little into the batter.
- Bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (or, only covered in nutella).
Guys! Spring is coming!
Which means ordering pad see euw in bulk from seamless is no. longer. fly.
How about this: a well-balanced bowl of grains and veggies and protein that’s actually kind of good for you and tastes so fancy that you start to feel guilty about wearing jeans (or pajamas, or no pants at all… because really, we’re adults now and we aren’t afraid of a little buttcheek anymore). Nice restaurants could serve this and impress you. A nice restaurant probably wouldn’t serve this to you in your underwear.
Know what else is cool? After dropping some money ($15) on the base ingredients, thereby securing you delicious repeat dinners for weeks, each serving size is like $4 out of your pocket.
It also all comes together in less than an hour and I may or may not have eaten this like 6 times in the past three weeks.
Remember the part where I said this tastes fancy??
Yeah, my mind is blown, too.
Recipe: miso salmon & veggie bowl
most of this recipe is straight from smitten kitchen.
For the bowl:
- 1 cup dried rice (I used half brown, half wild red)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 head broccoli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 4 4-oz salmon fillets (I keep the skin on)
- sesame seeds
- pinch of ground ginger
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced/pressed
- 2 tbsp white miso
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400. Cook your rice however you like.
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into bite-sized cubes. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and spread in a single layer in a baking pan (I use my 9×13″ pyrex). Sprinkle with salt and pepper (don’t go nuts with the salt), and roast for 20 minutes.
- While potato is roasting, cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces as well. When 20 minutes are up, add to the sweet potato and toss with a little more olive oil. Roast for another 10-20 minutes, until everything is tender.
- Prepare salmon fillets by seasoning with freshly ground pepper, ground ginger, and sesame seeds. Line a broiling pan with foil and place a well-greased wire rack on top. Lay fillets on the rack and stick under your broiler for about 10 minutes, flipping once if you want, until salmon is cooked through.
- While salmon is cooking (what a great multi-tasker you are!), combine dressing ingredients and mix well.
- Serve bowls with rice topped with veggies and salmon, with a drizzle of dressing over the whole thing.
When life gives you a winter full of snow storms, the latest of which cancels your board exams after you’ve been studying non-stop for the previous six weeks, leading you to spend a cumulative 3 hours on the phone waiting for a human to take you off ‘hold’, which never ends up happening, so instead you go to the website and suck up the $110 fee to reschedule your test for the following week, and then snow barely even happens so that by the time you wake up it’s just sort of sleet-misting and you don’t even have the luxury of going outside and frolicking in piles of snow, and your boyfriend’s classes aren’t canceled so he can’t even stay in and read you stories to make it a proper snow day…
you make muffins.
and stay in bed.
and play Hungry Shark.
I should have named this blog “How to eat your feelings.”
Recipe: gluten-free, grain-free chocolate chip coconut almond muffins
Note: These taste like marzipan. I hope you like marzipan.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville, available at Costco for cheaper I believe)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until super soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs in individually, mixing after each to fully incorporate. Mix in the extracts.
- Mix together the baking soda, salt, and almond flour. Add the mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Toss in the chips and coconut and mix those in as well.
- Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle tops with extra coconut, if you like.
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
I don’t want to always sound like a grumpy fart on my shiny new blog, but it just so happens that I made this thing in the midst of a fairly grumpy, farty time in my life. C’est la vie.
I mentioned the januaries earlier, which constitute a phenomenon I fairly predictably experience every year, for one reason or another (or, perhaps more simply, for no reason at all). The sun shines a little less brightly (that’s science), my stresses accumulate and weigh on me daily (that’s partly mostly my fault), and I indulge in copious amounts of carb-binging and sleeping (that’s hibernation). Recognizing and confronting this sort of… dysthymia? has helped me better deal with it in recent years, and frequently exercising my “life effing rules!” muscle has allowed me to drift through the januaries with a more balanced (if slightly reclusive) calm, rather than wild emotional flailing.
I can sometimes defend my affect by citing awful things that tend to happen to me during the winter months. This season has, perhaps, reached an all-time low on the “jesus christ that sounds miserable” scale, but I’m okay. Life has given me enough awesome for me to know that I’ll get through this. When I start to forget that, I can just break out a pint of my favorite ice cream or whip up a batch of these cookies. Because seriously: if you’ve got ice cream on your chin, or a cookie in your mouth, life can’t be all that bad.
Here’s to enjoying yourself.
And to the magical combination that is butter, sugar, and chocolate.
And to eating your feelings.
C’est la vie.
Recipe: chocolate chip cookies
Note: I like my cookies chewy, with crispy edges. And loaded with chocolate. There is a time for flat, greasy, cracker-cookies; this is not that time.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold-ish
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pizza stone works well, too.
- In a medium bowl (or stand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
- Mix in egg and vanilla.
- Add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Dump in the whole bag of chips because, you know, feelings. Fold them in.
- Chill the dough in the bowl for at least an hour. Spend this time on the couch, watching something cathartic, with an alcoholic beverage in hand.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized (or larger) balls of dough onto baking surface, leaving at least 2 inches between each one.
- Bake for roughly 18-20 minutes, until cookies are golden. Let cool on a wire rack before stuffing your face.
Makes ~25 cookies.
You know that weird, repetitive situation when you tell people you like to cook? It’s borne out of a discussion of what you do for a living (“I’m a medical student”), where you’re going with it (“I’d like to practice OB/Gyn”), and what that involves (“long hours, lots of bodily fluids, and my handy-dandy speculum”), and then you’re desperate to change the subject so you can actually start to make friends. Conversation turns (or, more accurately, catapults) to your hobbies.
“I like to cook,” you say. “Oh! How relateable and interesting!” says your new friend. “What’s your signature dish?”
I hate this question.
I’ve been cooking somewhat seriously for several years, and baking for even longer. I cook for myself, for my roommates, for my family, for random birthdays, for anonymous potlucks, for romantic picnics, and sometimes for no good reason whatsoever. I have spices falling onto my head whenever I open my cabinets, more pyrex than I know what to do with, and roughly 12 different flours living in my freezer. I get updates from 50 food blogs on my RSS feed and always have a dinner plan. Truth is, there is so much food out there that I want to make that I’m not sure I’ll get to most of it before I hit menopause. And now I’m supposed to come up with one dish that, among the whacked out culinary creativity I’ve discovered through Google Reader (RIP), I can label as “my signature”? Dude, I’m 25. I am NOT there yet.
In an effort to humor the question, though, I’ll usually respond with something I’ve made many times, or something I’ll make for tons of different occasions. This butternut squash lasagna is one of those. It’s made appearances at all the above scenarios, and does a good job of deluding people into thinking you know what you’re doing.
Recipe: butternut squash lasagna
For the filling:
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth (or water, if you fail at grocery shopping like I do)
- 3 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
For the béchamel:
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the rest:
- 1 ball fresh salted mozzarella, grated
- 10 oz log goat cheese, crumbled
- 3 oz (1 cup) fontina, grated
- 12 lasagna sheets, whatever kind you like, uncooked
- Pre-heat oven to 425°F and grab a 9×13″ baking dish. Toss cheeses together in a bowl and try not to eat all the mozzarella.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, salt, pepper, and liquid, and cook (stirring occasionally) until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chopped sage, and set aside.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter and cook the garlic over low-medium heat for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes, then slowly add milk and don’t. stop. whisking. Once milk is all in and there are no chunks of cooked flour, add bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, whisking all the while. Reduce heat and let simmer, whisking occasionally, until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat.
- Ladle the béchamel into the baking dish so it coats the bottom in a thin layer. Lay down three lasagna sheets with spaces left in between (like the letter E), then ladle another 2/3 cup of béchamel on top. Spread on a third of the squash filling, and then scatter with 2/3 cup of cheese.
- Continue: pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese. Pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese.
- Lay the final 3 pasta sheets on top, then spread the rest of the sauce and the rest of the cheese on top.
- Butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and tightly cover the baking dish with it (butter side down, dummy). Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and wonderful. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.
I mean, if we aren’t counting my 8th grade fling with xanga. Which we really shouldn’t. We were all there.
So, hello (again) internet! My name is Laura. I’m a medicine-studying, food-obsessing twenty-something living in New York. In an effort to channel my inner snowflake and to resist medical school’s attempts to beat the personality out of me, I am here to share my thoughts, my triumphs (and failures), and my food.
What I will NOT share:
- specific information about patients. (hop off my back, HIPAA.).
- photos of my dinner in dimly lit restaurants.
- discussion of bodily functions. (NOT. sorry not sorry for the inevitable poop talk.)
I suppose that’s a pretty comprehensive introduction. More later.