Monday, August 8, 2011

is age really just a number?

That time of year has come again...
My time to celebrate living!

Some dread getting older and no one ever discusses why. Are those little lines of character (also known as wrinkles) starting to appear? Have you reached that age where all your friends are talking about marriage? Do you find yourself saying, "I'm just aging" as your left knee continues to cause you pain?

Right now getting older isn't a real problem for me since every time I walk into a bar they are convinced that I'm only 17—I guess my character lines aren't really gaping yet. And even though my friends are eager to get married by age 25, I'm too stubborn to live by a concocted time-line. And I'm certain that my knee sometimes hurts because I run too often.

To be honest, the only thing I'm concerned about on this special day is the feeling of satiety.

When I was young my parents so graciously planned parties for me and 30 little kids that were in my class. The cake was probably 9 X 13, but might have been 13 X 18, the latter serving 36-50 people(depending on the size of the slice of course). Either way, the cake never seemed extraordinary because I had to share with too many of my friends. Back then I only wanted to invite my closest friends, but my mom felt it wasn't socially acceptable to leave anyone out. I understood what she was saying and never fought her on the matter, but I don't think she ever saw it through my eyes.

Thankfully by age 21 I was able to celebrate with just three of my good friends and the only stress I had was worrying about too many sprinkles on my two-tiered cake, instead of how many bars to hop. Sure I went out—to a concert and ordered a drink—but it wasn't until after a few of my friends and I indulged in my homemade favorite yellow cake. Call me an oddball, but the color of the butter-cream frosting was really a much bigger issue than the number of acquaintances watching me order my first drink.
And the best part of my 21st birthday was when I hopped out of bed, to peak at my cake resting in a glass dome stand, and realized that I had about 3/4ths of a cake left. This meant that for the next eight days I could continue the celebration and watch my cake get smaller and smaller.

My theory is this: As you get older (unless you've hit a monumental age like 50 or 90) the sharing becomes less of an issue. Even if you're celebrating with 10 of your closest friends instead of three, you'll be old enough to tell them that you really would like to have two pieces saved for tomorrow. Now if you've hit that monumental age where a loved one insists on planning you an outlandish party, you've certainly lived long enough to request a square-shaped, six-tiered, yellow-cake with silky chocolate frosting!

Soon the wrinkles will become more prominent and the bartender might not ask to see my ID again, but if it means another serving of cake then I'm eager to celebrate aging gracefully!

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Dearest Readers and Eaters,

Forgive me for slacking on my blog posts. I promise that I haven't stopped eating, which means that I still have a lot to share.

I'd like to start off by sharing my appetite for Turkey. When I was in Istanbul this summer I had a taste of the old city with a piece of pistachio baklava. In terms of aesthetics, the layered filo had a light brown coloring that reminded me of a very old library book (which is quite fitting since the Turks have been making this pastry since the Ottoman Empire).

The top layer glistened, which meant one thing...butter. When my eyes moved past the shiny filo, I became so enamored by the crushed pistachios garnished on top that I had my fork at hand seconds after it was placed before me.

As I cut into my piece, the syrupy sugar and chopped pistachios from the bottom of the pastry began oozing out. The whole experience was like an exotic adventure for my eyes, and an even better one for my palate. There was a seductive nature to this baklava as the sweet nutty flavors were so eloquently combined with a chewy texture. I knew I'd be overwhelmed with more than one bite so I put my fork down and continued to admire the foreign pastry.

If you don't usually indulge in super-sweet confections, it's certainly worth taking one bite and savoring it. You might find yourself falling in love so watch out for that second bite.

I haven't dared to bake baklava, but when I do I promise to share the recipe. If you're feeling brave, try using ready-made filo-dough to speed up the process. Just be sure to follow an authentic recipe.

Monday, May 2, 2011

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I was in the mood for eating something sweet, but didn't want to regret it during my run later this evening. What was my go-to recipe? Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies! These remind me of high school, when my good friend Charlie and I spent our summer days making dozens of oatmeal cookies. We'd experiment with raisins, nuts and different grades of chocolate. No matter what we added to the mix we always came out with a delicious batch of warm cookies.

This recipe is a bit different from my younger years, but it is equally as good. With most of the ingredients already in my kitchen, these cookies were super easy to make. I substituted half of butter in the original recipe for applesauce to make the cookies even more heart-healthy.
I hope baking these will bring back some warm memories of your yesteryear.

The Recipe (adapted from My Recipes: Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies):
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
3 tblspn unsalted butter
3 tblspn unsweetened applesauce
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350degreesF.
Grease large baking pan. I used grapeseed oil, but you can use whatever you like.
Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and mix with sugar and applesauce in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to the other bowl. Mix well. Add egg, vanilla and chocolate chips. Mix well. Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough to place on greased pan. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Apples + Walnuts

Every year during Passover I look forward to my grandmother's charoset—a small side-dish that we eat on the first two nights of Passover. The color and texture is supposed to represent the bricks that the Jewish people carried on their backs when they were slaves in Egypt. But the taste has a completely different story. My grandmother chops the apples and walnuts into small chunks. She adds Manischewitz wine and cinnamon until it tastes just right. The somewhat notorious wine is ideal for this dish because it has enough sugar to sweeten the apple-walnut mixture. My grandmother's charoset is sweet and aromatic—perfect for a light dessert or at any hour of the day. I've had many different types of charoset—some had added sugar and others were chopped very finely—but my grandmother's is by far the best.

Red Apples (Gala or Fiji are my favorites)
Manischewitz wine
Ground Cinnamon

Note: You're going to have to measure out the ingredients according to taste. Start off with 2 apples, 1 cup of walnuts and 1 cup of wine.

Directions: Peel the apples and chop into little chunks (about 1/4-1/2 inch). Chop the walnuts into small chunks. Put ingredients into a bowl. Add Wine. Mix. Begin with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (add according to taste). Mix. Let sit in refrigerator until ready to serve.


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

german pancakes

German pancakes (also known as Dutch baby pancakes) are one of my favorite breakfast treats. I grew up eating these at my family's favorite deli, which was conveniently located minutes away from my house. At least once a week I'd order a plate of the golden brown German pancakes which were folded like crepes and dusted with powdered sugar. The secret was in the lemon wedges. They were systematically placed on the plate. One squeeze over the pancakes, and the spectacular treat became enhanced with a bit of tangy flavor. When I made these pancakes for the first time and took one bite I felt like I was back home.

The sweet taste and light fluffy texture of these pancakes are the most delightful way to start the day. Whether it's winter or spring, if you're alone or planning a brunch for ten people, these pancakes are an ideal delicacy.
The short ingredient list gives the impression that they are quite simple to make, but it's not so easy. But if I can make them, so can you.
It's all about the right pan and the correct temperature. The recipe I used instructed me to use a 9-inch baking pan and the oven. I tried it twice and my pancakes stuck to the bottom of the pan (even after I buttered it). I tried the recipe again and instead used the stove-top. Finally, they turned out to be perfect!

Here's my recipe (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

Makes 2-pancakes.

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour, sifted
2/3 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Butter a pan and place on stove-top (medium temperature). Mix the eggs until light yellow in color. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Let the edges get golden brown before flipping. When ready, flip sides. When golden brown on both sides, slide off pan and plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with lemon slices.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Why do we feel so guilty after indulging in a moist delectable dessert? It could be the daily articles filled with statistics on obesity or the celebrities with the perfectly-fit bodies on the cover of Vogue. Or it might just be that the cake we relish in provides us with such gratification that it feels like a sin.
Well this chocolate cake is definitely one of the greatest cakes I've ever made; it tastes sinful, but it's not. The sweet chocolate flavor combined with the moist texture is ideal for a cake, but the white chocolate chips floating throughout add an extra punch of delight. This chocolate cake is like a pan full of heaven. Aside from the fantastic flavor and consistency arousing my palate, the best part about this cake is that there is no butter and no sugar added. Sounds like a miracle, I know.

Recipe (See Elana's Pantry)

1 cup dark chocolate chips 73% cacao (if you want to use a bar, it's about 6 ounces)
½ cup coconut milk (recipe calls for canned, but I used So. Delicious)
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon salt (recipe calls for celtic sea salt, but I used Kosher salt)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Melt dark chocolate chips and coconut milk in a small saucepan over very low heat
2. When chocolate is completely melted, remove saucepan from heat
3. Stir eggs into saucepan containing chocolate/coconut milk mixture
4. Next, stir in almond flour, salt and baking soda
5. Fold in ½ cup of the white chocolate chips
6. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish with oil of your choice
7. Pour batter into baking dish, then sprinkle remaining white chocolate chips over batter
8. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes
9. Cool and serve

Monday, January 31, 2011


I came across a great recipe from Elana's Pantry for Orange Chocolate Scones. I was a little hesitant as the recipe called for almond four and agave nectar for sweetening. Don't forget that this was my first attempt at using alternative, natural, ingredients when baking. To my utmost delight, these scones turned out to be sensationally aromatic and delicious—you'd never know that butter was omitted from the mix. These guiltless scones are perfect for breakfast or anytime you're craving something sweet and delicious! On an even better note, they are easy to make!

Gluten Free Orange Chocolate Scones:

2 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips (the recipe calls for dark chocolate chips, but I used Callebaut milk chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 egg
3 tablespoons agave nectar

1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, chips and zest
2. In a smaller bowl, combine egg and agave
3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
4. Knead dough with hands if necessary to ensure proper distribution of ingredients
5. Form dough into a circle that is about ½-inch in thick
6. Cut dough like a pizza, into 8 slices
7. Using a metal baking spatula transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet
8. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes
9. Serve