This past weekend was the epitome of perfect fall weather - sunny with a crisp breeze and clear blue skies. I was so excited to finally bust out a pair of leggings and a jean jacket and not be sweating as I walked around. I was dog sitting for the sweetest pup named Sofee and on Saturday my friend Lauren and I brought her to Warby Parker in Cobble Hill where she was quite the hit. I also tried on like 25 pairs of sunglasses and am now torn between two. Should I just get them both?! Moderation is key but SO hard!
It seems like every time a new season rolls around I have the sudden urge to go on major shopping sprees. This time it's new shoes, sunglasses, t-shirts from Madewell, and I have my eye on a new camel coat and other various items. My bank account (and my conscience) wants to kill me! I have to say that I am very good about not spending money typically, and I don't often splurge, but sometimes it's hard especially if I have some extra money coming in in the form of freelancing/dogsitting. Anyways, so far I have no regrets about any of the recent purchases I've made so I think that is alright.
Every season is difficult in terms of having a desire to suddenly spend money, but fall is particularly challenging because it reminds me so much of "going back to school" times where I would get to pick out some new clothes, go shopping for schools supplies, and just feel excited in general for a new year to start. I'm not in school anymore but sometimes I miss that feeling of anticipation and excitement, and seeing all the familiar faces I didn't see over the summer. Does that happen to anyone else?
I made a Dutch Baby once before on this blog (here), but I used coconut milk instead of cream and was not totally satisfied with the results. It was super tasty but didn't pouf up as much as I had hoped. So, another round we go! This time I slightly modified the recipe and topped it with figs, coconut and maple syrup. The results: delicious, airy and perfectly sweet.
Dutch Baby with Fig & Coconut
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine eggs, flour, milk, sugar and splices in a medium bowl and whip until smooth.
Place butter in a heavy 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted (it only takes a couple minutes so watch closely as it may burn) add the batter to the pan spreading evenly across the bottom.
Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for five more minutes.
Remove pancake from oven, top with figs, coconut and maple syrup. Eat hot!
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardemom
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 4 black figs, sliced in half
- Drizzle of real maple syrup (do not use the fake stuff! It drives me nuts)
I have some exciting news! Last week on kind of a whim, Pat and I booked a trip to California. In November we'll be flying into San Francisco, staying with Pat's friend for the night and then driving down the coast through Santa Cruz and Monterray and the Carmel Valley to Big Sur, where we will stay for a couple days before heading back. We've booked our Air Bnb and all that's left is figuring out a car rental and planning out all the stops we want to make. I've never been to this part of California and it's been on my travel list forever, so I am super pumped. Also, first time renting a car so checking that off the list, haha. I'm taking recommendations on what to do and places to see, so if you have any please send them my way!
Traveling is one of my favorite things to do and I think it's one of the most important things that someone can do. I'd always liked traveling growing up, but I really started to love it when I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college. Being in a new city surrounded by new people and a new language completely opened up my world and my desire to explore. The five months I was there were some of the most defining in my life so far. I became more independent, mature, and just generally aware about the world around me. Since then my thirst for exploring new places hasn't died. Traveling is expensive, especially for a person who doesn't have a ton of money (ie. me) but I've found that some of the best ways to do it is on a budget. Having hardly any money when I was abroad forced me to be resourceful, staying in hostels with my friends (having both amazing and terrible experiences), eating local food, and being forced to talk to local people because we didn't have cell phones. One of the biggest things that blows my mind is how I was able to navigate around Rome and other foreign countries and cities relying only on a map. This seems crazy to me now, thinking about how much I use Google Maps on my phone for navigation, but it also reminds me that I can get around without technology!
Obviously San Francisco is still America so there isn't a language barrier, but I am still really exciting to explore a completely new place that I have read and seen so much about. Even with limited amounts of money, I believe traveling is one of the most enriching things one can do, and while I have limited responsibilities in my life (no kids, etc.) I'm trying to take advantage of going as many places as possible.
I wasn't sure how this loaf would turn out as I've never baked with papaya before, but it was surprisingly one of the densest and most delicious loaves I've ever made. Taking a bite made me feel transported to the tropics.
Papaya Coconut Loaf
Preheat oven to 350F; line 1 loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2) with parchment paper and lightly spray the insides with cooking spray.
Puree the papaya and coconut milk in a blender or food processor and set aside.
Mix together the flour, coconut, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and then beat in the eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and rum extracts. Add in the papaya puree and mix.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Be careful not to over mix! The batter should be smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then transfer to a wire rack. Once the cake is cooled, whisk together all ingredients for the glaze.
Mix together ingredients for glaze and Pour the glaze on top of the cooled cake, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the flaked coconut on top. Enjoy!
- Coconut oil to line parchment paper
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (reserve 1 tbsp for sprinkling afterwards)
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoon butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh cubed papaya
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (115 g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons water
I'm currently waiting for my iPhone to update to iOS 10 and it is taking forever. It looks like the white status bar is not moved a millimeter for ten minutes. I haven't updated my phone for several renditions of iOS so I'm thinking that may be the hold up, but who knows. Speaking of technology, has anyone gotten the iPhone 7? I'll be up for a phone upgrade soon but the thought of parting with my headphones as we know them sounds painful to me. As much as I get annoyed about the wires getting tangled all the time, I like having them attached to something.
Also speaking of technology, I've been feeling concerned lately about the amount of time I spend on all of my devices. I'm nervous that it's been affecting my sleep, happiness, and just general ability to focus on a task without getting distracted and reaching for my phone. Between work and my social life, I feel like I'm constantly on the phone or looking at screens and I'm trying to be conscious of cutting back on these habits. Relatedly, it seems like everything is moving towards always being connected which is stressful! I have to admit that I haven't tried the Instagram Stories feature yet, simply because it seems like overload. When did the world change and we started feeling the need to document every single thing that we do? Although the Stories feature is fascinating, sometimes I simply do not care to see what people are doing every minute of their day. In general, I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram because I feel like it makes me obsessive about how certain things in my life look. I try to save it for just my food photography or other moments where I have a chance to snap a picture, and I fully acknowledge that my feed is definitely a curated and unrealistic version of my life. Sure, I'll take pretty pictures of a meal I just made, but what people are not seeing is the more normal situation of me eating the most seriously depressing lunch every day at work, spilling all over myself, running around like a crazy person, etc. I love the discoverability that Instagram allows, especially looking at beautiful food and travel photos and getting new ideas and or inspiration, but I'm trying to reposition the way that I use it in my life. I'm not against Instagram stories at all and I would gladly give it a try - I am just hesitant about spreading myself too thin between multiple apps. My Instagram pictures are just a tiny snapshot of what I'm doing that I've edited to look super nice. I know that mostly everyone does not care what I am doing all the time, and frankly I don't feel the need to document everything.
This past weekend I went home to my parent's house in Connecticut and it was a great opportunity to unplug for a bit. Recently I've written on here about how I'm trying to be more in the moment, and not overloading on technology is a way that I'm trying to do that. It was so nice while being at home to have no one to contact, no where to be, and just to spend an afternoon sitting on the couch reading, or laughing about something stupid with my parents and sister. I'm back in Brooklyn now feeling refreshed for the upcoming week. Happy Monday, everyone!
I will pretty much eat anything that comes out of the ocean (although laying off calamari for a while, since I got food poisoning a couple weeks ago from it) and mussels are one of my all time favorites. Growing up in an Italian family, pasta was pretty much always the number one option and in the summer especially, my parents would always whip up a big batch of fettuccine, linguini, or spaghetti, and add in fresh seafood. It may be September now, but the weather has been so nice and it won't stop me from enjoying mussels. This version is light - well, as light as pasta can be - with a slightly creamy and acidic sauce.
Fettuccine with Mussels
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook fettuccine according to instructions. Make sure it stays al dente. Once done, drain it, add a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside. In a double boiler, start heating up water.
In a cast iron skillet add olive oil and garlic and cook until simmering. Add in white wine and spices, half of fresh basil, and keep stirring. Once it reduces a bit, add in the heavy cream and most of cheese and continue stirring until thickened.
Go back to the double boiler to check on water status. Once the water is boiling, add in the cleaned mussels to the second level and cover. In the cast iron skillet, add in fettuccine and fold into the sauce so that it is evenly coated.
Once mussels open up, remove from the heat and drain those as well. Throw out any mussels that did not open (they are bad). Top the pasta with hot mussels, and garnish with capers, and remainder of cheese and fresh basil. Eat while hot!
- 1 lb. mussels, washed and unopened
- 1 lb. fettuccine
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup fresh grated parmeggiano reggiano
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
- 1 tablespoon capers
- salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste
Last night as I was getting ready to leave work, I briefly glanced outside and was shocked to see a sheet of white pouring down from the sky. It was a torrential downpour when I was literally running out the door to meet my friend Lisette at Madison Square Eats near the Flatiron building, which happens to be a seasonal outdoor food market. And of course I didn't have an umbrella. When I arrived at 23rd street (fully soaked) it had finally turned into a light sprinkle so we braved the elements and ate outside. I had pizza from Roberta's and Lisette had a delicious looking Korean rice bowl.
Although I don't really love the rain, there's something magical about thunderstorms in New York. I love watching everyone pop out of buildings and immediately lift up their umbrellas. From there it's a mad rush of colors and people moving. Even though it's chaotic, I love being caught up in the flush of everything and then the quiet period that happens right after the rain ends before people begin coming back out again. Even though I normally end up soaked at the end being back in my apartment afterwards and throwing off my shoes and wet clothes and curling into a blanket is exhilarating in a sense.
Key Lime Pie is one of my all time favorite desserts. It's super light and refreshing and I feel like I could eat it all day (which is a problem depending on how you look at it). I made a video below of the process so feel free to check it out! I'm still learning a lot about video but have been having fun experimenting. Please don't judge the shadows, etc - the sun moved a lot while I was doing this!
Key Lime Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and butter and coconut oil. Mix until crumbs are evenly coated and sticking together. In a 9in pie dish, pour in crumb mixture and press into the bottom and up the sides. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack while and begin preparing the filling.
For the filling zest limes into a medium bowl until you have 1 1/2 tablespoons. Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric beater until pale and thick. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until well mixed. It should be a custardly consistence. Squeeze zested limes until you have 3/4 cups juice into a separate container. Whisk lime mixture into yolk mixture until combined. Pour into graham crust and bake for another 10 minutes. Make sure it does not brown at all on top! Let pie cool completely before you add the whipped cream topping. I put mine in the freezer to speed this up!
For the whipped cream beat cream and sugar in a small bowl until soft peaks are formed. Spread over top of chilled pie. Chill for another two hours so the pie can fully set.
- 1 1/2 cups ground graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lime zest
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cups fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar