Simple Coconut Macaroons

made with honey

We had a perfect weekend – two days, two barbecues – what’s not to like? The weather was absolutely gorgeous. New Yorkers basically go insane when the weather starts getting nice. We’ve had some good weather here and there in the past few weeks, but two days of 70 degrees F and sunshine? What is this black magic? On Friday night, we stayed in, caught up on our stories (see: Elementary, Parks and Recreation and Hannibal) and ordered in. We’re still trying to be ~good~ for summer, so we got sashimi and yakitori, which isn’t my usual favorite crazy roll with eight kinds of fish and avocado piled on top, but it was still tasty. On Saturday, our previous night in gave us the energy to wake up and exercise (what?), then we did a few quick chores before heading out to our friend Tom’s place for a rousing game of Risk, followed by a barbecue. Tom (and Val, who was out of town) have a fantastic roof, so we hung out up there until the sun went down, gorging ourselves on hot dogs, sausages, steaks and Greek salad and trying to decide when a good time to give up on Risk is, before heading inside. The night continued with Xbox Kinect, as any good night does. Darts proved to be incredibly fun, but skiing was a little too athletic for our meat and alcohol stuffed bodies. After one final night cap at Alewife, Kramer and I got a cab back to Brooklyn.

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Handsome Kramer at Prospect Park two weekends ago.

Sunday morning, I woke up pleasantly surprised to not be seriously feeling the night before. I think it may have something to do with this thing I’m trying out called “pacing myself”. I also can’t drink beer right now, the love of my life, which usually goes down much easier than what I’ve been drinking, which is a tequila and soda with lime (don’t knock it). Anyway, I made bacon and eggs with a side of avocado for Kramer and myself, then I did a bit of cooking and baking before we wandered over to our friend’s apartment near us in Bushwick for yet another barbecue. This time we were in a great little backyard, complete with a fire pit, where Kramer and I parked ourselves and basically didn’t move except to get food and drink, for a few hours. The fire was excellent – after the sun went down, it got a bit chilly, but the flames warmed us all right back up. Kramer and I made it home, shared a salad (because no amount of meat can fill the void that a bowl of cereal or a piece of pizza has left in my heart and I am still constantly hungry) and tried to stay up for Mad Men, but failed and went to bed.

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A few weeks ago, my pal Josh over at Slim Palate sent me a copy of his new cookbook. I’m not much of a paleo person, mostly because every time I look at one of the recipes I think, “Who keeps almond flour in their cupboard?” but then I am reminded that many, many people do. Obviously this kind of eating has become incredibly popular, and I suppose in the past week I’ve adapted a bit of this sort of lifestyle into my own kitchen as I try to get ready for weekends at Rockaway Beach. Either way, I opened the book to find super approachable paleo recipes that didn’t scare me away at all. I’ve bookmarked a few salads and meat dishes, but for now, I wanted to share these coconut macaroons with you, seeing as how it’s Passover and all. It’s funny that this is also the same recipe Josh originally shared when introducing his book, but great minds think alike, so there you go. This macaroon recipe uses only natural sugar in the form of honey, which actually works out really well because a lot of the time when I bite into a macaroon, I’m met with an unpleasant granulated crunch from not-properly-incorporated sugar. In this recipe, the honey melts together with the other ingredients to bind, but also to add a deeper flavor than your average Passover treat. These are chewy little clouds of coconut goodness, and absolutely perfect to bring to a barbecue this summer because they won’t melt or make a mess while you enjoy them.

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Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

with crunchy veggies

As previously stated, I’m trying to eat better and shed some winter poundage as we head into the warmer months. So far, success. It’s been four days, but whatever. Being hyper aware of all of the food that I’m eating is a little depressing, but probably not as depressing as it’s going to be putting on a bathing suit for the first time in a while, so you know, whatever. The first two days were fasting days, where all I could eat was chicken or beef broth. I did find lamb broth at Whole Foods, which was so exciting for me it might almost be looked at as sad. I woke up on the third day around midnight with my heart racing and a slight fever, though, because clearly I’d compromised my own immune system and my body was completely rejecting this all liquid diet idea. Anyway, being sick kind of helped, ha! I’m now in the phase of eating where I can have up to 20 net grams of carbs per day. Believe me, that’s way lower than it sounds. I can basically eat all of the eggs and meat that I want, but even after day one, I’m just craving an apple. It’s not so bad, though. This morning for breakfast I had some chopped strawberries and blackberries with a dollop of natural peanut butter and some almond milk, which again, sounds kind of depressing but is actually really good. Kramer is still holding out strong. I don’t know what kind of dark magic he is using to fast for three days now, but I applaud him. I keep asking if he’s going to pass out and if he’s okay, but he seems to be in good spirits. However that works. Anyway, the real challenge is obviously going to be the weekend. We’re supposed to go to a friend’s place on Saturday and possibly get dinner on Sunday. I just need to remember that this past week really sucked and I don’t want to destroy all of my hard work for two slices of pizza. Or do I? Let’s find out, on the Adventures of Sydney Stares Down a Cheese Pizza for the Duration of an Entire Party. Who’s going to win? Only time will tell.

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Move night that turned into game night last weekend.

Distractions were key during the two fasting days, but thankfully work has been insanely busy, so that really helps. We’re moving offices and it’s just non-stop shuffling back and forth between the new space and the current space, meeting with vendors, making sure that things get installed, buying furniture and just figuring out solutions to problems. If I weren’t constantly working on that, it would have been a lot harder to suck down that chicken broth. On Tuesday night, my friend Jeena (who was also fasting with me) and I decided that we needed to figure out a way to not just go home and longingly gaze into the refrigerator, so we saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier, armed with a variety of sugar-free gum to gnaw on while everyone around us munched on salty, buttery movie theater popcorn. The movie, however, was bad ass – just what I needed to give me the strength to power on through another day. It was action packed and filled with plenty of explosions and hand-to-hand combat. Thanks, Chris Evans. You’re a miracle worker. I knew he could help me. He clearly wanted to help me. I could feel Chris Evans reaching out through the screen and saying, “These abs don’t come for free!” I know that they don’t. That guy clearly lives on brown rice and salmon. Anyway, on Wednesday, Kramer was fasting with me. We came home and I made us a big pot of red curry broth mixed with the lamb broth (enticing, I know), then we watched our stories from the week (Shameless, Veep and Silicon Valley) before heading to bed. I weighed myself this morning (even though I promised myself that I wouldn’t and I’m my own woman and I just want to feel good and blahblahblah I’m a hypocrite), and it seems that everything is coming up Sydney! But, as always, allow me to reiterate: the weekend is my enemy and my true test of strength and courage will come Saturday. Any diet success stories? Please share and give me hope.

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I made this chicken salad on Sunday, before Kramer and I started our official diet. I wanted to make something tasty, but still healthy and low fat/low carb/whatever. I had a big tub of Greek yogurt in my fridge (clearly, judging from my last post), and I thought, why not use that instead of the usual fatty mayonnaise that I tend to make chicken salad with? I was worried, I won’t lie. I thought it might taste weird and I was worried that Kramer wouldn’t eat it. I’ll tell you what, though – I liked this chicken salad even more than my usual one. The Greek yogurt had about the same level of “tang” as mayo, but somehow tasted a bit creamier. Let me break it down for you, if you don’t mind. One cup of regular mayonnaise has, on average, over 900 calories, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and almost no protein. One cup of 0% Greek yogurt, on the other hand, has 130 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and a whopping 23 grams of protein. Weirdly enough, to be honest, I preferred the Greek yogurt option and will probably keep using it even after I’m being restrictive with what I’m eating. I also plan to keep experimenting with subbing in Greek yogurt for other fats that I usually use and I hope I’ll be able to come up with some fun ideas to share with you. For now, though, this chicken salad, whipped up not only with Greek yogurt, but with dijon mustard, bright lemon, and crunchy vegetables like bell peppers and celery, makes a wonderfully light version of one of my favorite comfort foods that I can feel good about eating an extra helping of.

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Grapefruit Muffins

with Greek yogurt

Today is day zero of my ~diet~. I feel like if I mention it here, I will be held more accountable than if I pretended that I didn’t care. I basically just need to kickstart myself to get back on track, and by back on track I mean not thinking that it’s okay to have dinner and then go to a bar for French fries afterward, or to come home from a day of non-stop snacking and order a bunch of Vietnamese food at 10:30pm. But that’s just me. We all have our demons. I feel like if I do this for three days, then I’ll maybe not want to ruin it with a burger by the end. You never know, though. Humans do crazy things. Anyway, what I’m doing is essentially fasting for three days. I can have all of the black coffee, tea, water and seltzer that I want, as well as all of the vegetable, chicken or beef stock that I want. How exciting. I don’t want any of that. I don’t even like black coffee – I like a nice, creamy cortado or even just a good cup of pour-over made at home with a few splashes of whole milk. Waaaah. Thankfully, a friend at work is heading on this insane journey with me, and Kramer starts his tomorrow. Kramer and I did this once in college and it really worked, but I feel like I might just have less will power now. Plus, I’m older and I care much less about how society thinks I look in my jeans. I just want to be comfortable in my jeans and not have to buy new jeans. We’re just trying to maintain some semblance of youth here, that’s all. Next stop: wrinkle cream, chemical peels and botox injections. Honestly, you think that you’re supposed to still feel young and energetic at 25, but whoever cultivated that myth is very, very wrong. Whatever, I can do this! My friend and I are going to go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier tonight to keep ourselves distracted. Chris Evans, you’re my only hope.

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Post office boxes, movie night at my house, a grapefruit, bourbon and coffee cocktail at The Bearded Lady and the counter at Eisenberg’s.

So, this weekend, I knew that the end was nigh so I treated myself. On Friday night, we had some friends over for what was supposed to be movie night, but what ended up just being some cool dudes hanging out in my apartment, with a game or two of Catch Phrase thrown in for good measure. I bought some nice meats and cheese from Eataly, and I may or may not have had a couple of pieces of the delicious semolina baguettes that I also purchased. On Saturday, Kramer and I got up early-ish and I did some yoga and cleaned up a bit while Kramer worked on his homework, then we headed out to meet some friends in Prospect Park. I figured, what the hell, let’s do this thing! So we picked up some cheese and another baguette from the farmer’s market before enjoying the outdoors for a few hours. There may or may not have been white wine involved, but who’s to say? It was a little windy, but I was just so happy to see the sun that I didn’t care. After the park, we stopped by The Bearded Lady for a couple of cocktails before Kramer and I went home and demolished some previously mentioned Vietnamese food from Falansai. On Sunday, we got up and did the usual (although I opted for a smoothie for breakfast because of the late night eating guilt from the night before), then met up with one of my previous bosses and her husband in our neighborhood. Their son got into a really good high school near us, and they wanted someone to show them around. Kramer and I love just walking around, so we were excited to give the tour. We probably walked three or four miles that day, stopping for a Peroni at Union Pizza Works, enjoying the street art from The Bushwick Collective, and finally chowing down on a phenomenal meal from Glasserie. This was the best “last meal” before my diet. We had chilled, crisp white wine alongside bright red snapper crudo, melt-in-your-mouth sous vide steak, lamb tartar, roasted cauliflower with soft cheese, grilled radishes with creamy feta, griddle bread with tahini and lovely stuffed onions and ramps. To top it all off, we had a chocolate tart with sesame caramel and some kind of insanely delicious almond pastry dish with a vanilla pastry cream. What a treat. Kramer and I had stars in our eyes after that meal, for sure.

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On Sunday, I made these muffins to get rid of the Greek yogurt that I had in my fridge, which surprisingly enough has a lot of carbohydrates and is off the menu on my new eating path. I love grapefruit this time of year, and I probably eat at like 2 or 3 a week without getting sick of them. The bright, slightly tart but still sweet fruit is one of my favorite parts about the limbo between winter and spring. I had one left in my refrigerator, and again, fruit is off the table for a while for me, so I threw that into these muffins as well. If you love grapefruit, these muffins are definitely for you. The yogurt gave them a wonderfully soft, moist crumb, and but the grapefruit still really shines through. I was worried that these would be a bit dry because I was using 0% yogurt instead of full fat, but they were absolutely perfect. Kramer ate two, and my coworkers all seemed to enjoy them. These are a simple breakfast treat, but the grapefruit will wake you up and get you going for the day. Best of all, these will keep well at room temperature for up to four days, and they’ll freeze even better.

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60 Minute Sticky Buns

with caramel & chocolate

It is finally a beautiful day in New York. I woke up this morning nice and early, around 6am, and didn’t even feel the need to go back to sleep until my actual alarm went off at 6:30. I must have something severely wrong with me and this will probably come to light in the next week or so in the form of some kind of incurable disease. Or maybe it’s just allergies. Anyway, I woke up without any problems. The sun is starting to peek out at this time in the morning, so maybe that’s it. I usually wake up when it’s pitch black outside, which is not at all conducive to forcing yourself to roll out of bed, away from the big, soft comforter and just-in-the-right-place pillow and into the harsh realities of a not-warm-enough shower and having to make coffee. Today feels like the first official day of spring to me. I woke up, got dressed, made a big pot of coffee and even made pancakes for Kramer, because he is always bugging me about making pancakes and I never give in. I figured that he’s had such a rough schedule between work, school and the inevitable gobs of homework that I’d make today extra special for no reason in particular. Not that I deserve any wife of the year awards – I only accept cold, hard cash. Money talks, people.

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Roof views, Kramer and Jeena at One Mile House, Kramer posing with all of our drinks at the hot sauce festival and Jeena and I posing with the champion of who-knows-what at the very same hot sauce festival.

The pancakes were also on the menu this morning because, as the weather gets warmer and I open up my drawer and stare blankly at tank tops and shorts, it’s time to get rid of the winter coat I’ve developed over the past six months. It was a long winter, which led to the consumption of many beers, countless slices of pizza, delicious hot dogs on pretzel buns smothered in mustard, and whatever else I could get my hands on. Reality has set in, though. Springy dresses and bathing suits loom closer and closer. S I G H. So, it’s time to knock it off and get back to (attempting) to eat right and exercise. Next week, Kramer and I are planning to embark on our version of a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, low in carbs, and covered in sadness. We’ll see how long I last. It’s actually not so bad, but the first three days you’re basically supposed to fast and the only thing you can have is black coffee, plain tea, lots of fluids and as much chicken or beef broth as your heart desires. The problem is, my heart desires no beef or chicken broth. My heart desires a BLT with avocado and extra mayonnaise. I’m 25 though, and my metabolism is not what it used to be, so I need a kickstart. Plus, I have the impressive ability to fit a king’s ransom worth of food in my stomach, so I need to shrink it back down to a regular human size. Hopefully this is good for you guys, though. I’ll try to post some healthier recipes so that you can get back into the swing of things with me. Not that you need it. You look fabulous.

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In the spirit of one last hurrah, I present to you these 60 Minute Sticky Buns. Aren’t they a dream? I wanted to bring something to a friend’s house for card night a few weeks ago, but Kramer and I were busy during the day and I didn’t have a ton of time. I came across this recipe on I Heart Eating, and was skeptical, but figured I’d give it a try and if it failed, I’d just bring some bread and cheese (which is my stand-by party food and it should be yours, too). Well, obviously I was not disappointed. I could not believe how quickly these sticky buns came together, and how absolutely delicious they were. Now, they’re not going to be as soft and pillowy as buns that you’ve allowed to rest, rise and rest again for hours and hours, but that’s okay. These remind me of the buns you’d get from a can at the grocery store, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. My friends were very excited to see these show up at the get together, and even though I highly recommend warming them up a bit before enjoying them, the card players all ate them cold, saving the chocolatey, caramel-y center for last, because obviously that is the best part. If you’re about to embark on diet season, too, then I really hope you’ll go out with a bang, and I hope that bang involves this quick sticky buns.

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Braised Heirloom Butter Beans

with vegetables

I try my best to not check email and whatnot over the weekend so that I give myself some time off from responsibility. That’s all that the week is and lately I’ve enjoyed a couple of weekends in a row where I haven’t even had to shoot any photos for this blog because I spent a few weekends in a row working non-stop and built up a pretty good back log of photos and recipes. This weekend was the last one that I had to not work, though. I have, of course, burned through my log of recipes and I now have to get back into the swing of things. Nothing gold can stay, as it were. Not that shooting is so bad – when I’m on a roll I can happily bust out 4 or 5 sets a day – but it is tiring and I don’t realize how exhausted I am until I’m done and there are piles of dishes in the sink. Anyway, sometimes I feel like I need a break creatively or else you’d continue to have different variations on chicken and chickpea curries, ha. We’re kind of on between seasons anyway, so when I get back into recipe development mode this coming Saturday and Sunday, maybe I’ll even have some new stuff to work with. I walk through the farmer’s market each morning and every day things seem to get brighter and greener, so you know spring, with its warmer weather and bounty of produce, it just around the corner.

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Pulled pork sandwich from Arrogant Swine, colorful eggs from Windfall Farms, meeting new friends at the Hot Sauce Festival and window puppy.

We had a good weekend not working, as anyone would. Friday night we went out with a big group of friends. We sat outside at the bar because the weather was above 40 degrees so we all wanted to get outdoors. We started at Noorman’s Kil and ended at The Grand. On Saturday, Kramer and I met up with a friend to go to the Hot Sauce Festival in the city. The festival was right on top of Penn Station, so the crowd was interesting to say the least. We waited in an unreasonably long line for drinks, then ran around sampling different hot sauces. We all had our moments of complete terror when we realized we had tasted something far too spicy. Thankfully there were pulled pork sandwiches, pretzels, and ice cream sandwiches to help us push through the pain. After the festival, we bar hopped a bit before eating at Fung Tu, a new fusion-ish Chinese restaurant that was absolutely wonderful. We had silken fish doufu, smoked mussels, bean curd terrine, mushroom and butternut squash buns, sweetbreads and more. We were ready to call it a day after our meal, but not before watching Hannibal, of course.

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I was at Marlow and Daughters when I spotted these heirloom beans. I had never seen any that were quite this color, so obviously I had to buy them. Turns out they are called Florida butter beans, or baby Lima beans. They are hearty with a slight bite to them, making them ideal to stand on their own in a meal. I didn’t want to make anything crazy, just something tasty and filling that Kramer and I could eat for lunch for the week. I decided not to add my usual favorites, like curry paste or chili paste or whatever I am constantly throwing into a pot with vegetables. Instead, I did a variety of vegetables that I had in my refrigerator (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) along with a little bacon for flavor (duh), a cup of white wine and some stand-by spices, like smoked paprika, cayenne and rosemary. The end result is a big ol’ pot of beans that you can eat for a few days in a row without getting bored. Use them as a side dish, throw a fried egg on top or spoon them over mixed greens. I personally loved these butter beans doused in a healthy amount of Tapatio hot sauce, but that’s just me. The colors and flavors will keep you happy and full, plus you’ll only have to wash one pot at the end of the day. You’re welcome.

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There Will Be Blood (Oranges)

bourbon + lillet

Hello again. Sydney here, coming at you with those sweet, sweet food blog ramblings. I know you need ‘em and you know I’ve got ‘em. How goes it? It’s Friday, and I’m ready to roll. This week flew by. Work’s been insanely busy. We are moving offices soon and I know that next week will be the time to sprint to the finish line, as it were. Moving is always exciting, and I’m excited to see the space all shiny and new, untouched by coffee spills, pizza crust crumbs or removed staples. The best part is that the new office is not only close to a Toby’s Estate Coffee, but a Madewell, Aveda, Sephora, Gap and more. Take my money, already. My wallet can already feel the strain. I’m not usually a big shopper – I hate the buy and return and replace process and would rather just wear what I have until it’s threadbare – but I know that if I am constantly walking by nice things it is inevitable that I will at least stop on in and buy the occasional new pair of socks.

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The Godfather sub from Graham Avenue Meats, Grand Central Station, more fun yogurt from Blue Hill and lunch prep for the week.

There is an awesome bourbon/cocktail/occasional food blog called There Will Be Bourbon that I absolutely adore. The people that run it are a couple named Patrick and Rachel and they rule. Their photos are beautiful, always clean and minimalistic, which I love, and their recipes are interesting and right up my alley. The blog is informative, too. They don’t limit themselves too much and every time I pop over to their site, I learn something new, even if I had planned on learning nothing at all that day. They asked me to do a guest post a while back and after my reminding them that I need to be constantly reminded of things, it finally happened. Blood orange season is almost over, so I wanted to share this recipe with you before they disappear completely for another year or so.

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I couldn’t resist giving this drink the most obvious of titles. I love the movie and it worked so don’t tell me what I can’t do. The recipe is simple, but the flavors work well together and simple is good, right? All you need to do is juice an entire blood orange, being sure to save a few strips of peel for garnish. Squeeze the peel into your glass and rub the oils around the edges, which gives this cocktail a fantastic aromatic punch. In a shaker, combine the blood orange juice, bourbon, Angostura bitters, orange bitters, and Lillet blanc. Rachel and Patrick informed me that there are a few different kinds of Lillet, but I have only ever used the blanc variety myself (I have a feeling rouge would work even better in this). Lillet is a sweet wine with orange notes that pairs perfectly with bourbon and bitters – you may know it from the Hannibal series, where drinks it chilled with a slice of orange. Either way, shake everything up over ice, then fill your glasses with an ice cube (or not), strain, and drink. You can add a cherry if you want, too – I usually do because I like snacks with my cocktails, but that’s just me. If you want the full recipe, head over to There Will Be Bourbon and check it out!

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Peanut Butter & Apple Snack Cake

with cinnamon

We had a little bit of a hosting SNAFU this week here on the ol’ Crepes of Wrath. Thanks to some clever maneuvering from my webmaster extraordinare (slash husband), things seem to be up and running as they always were. Thanks for figuring that out, Kramer! Without you I’d probably still be on hold with someone. Anyway, that’s the reason for this week’s lack of posts. We had a great weekend, though! Things only went to hell blog-wise on Monday morning (of course). Friday night, Kramer and I headed to Videology for happy hour and unexpected free nachos! What? They were the best free nachos that I’ve ever had. They were made infinitely more delicious by the Mario Brothers movie that was playing at the bar. After drinks, we saw Bad Words at Nitehawk, which was hilarious. Saturday, I woke up early to get my hair done while Kramer went for a run (over achiever), then we met up with some friends at The Rookery for sunny Saturday afternoon cocktails. I may have also ordered a side of bacon to go with my Pimms cup. That’s a thing now. The weather was just so perfect that I couldn’t resist giving in to any and all temptations. Everyone had the same idea on Saturday, of course. New York hasn’t seen lovely sunny weather in so long (especially on a weekend) that all of the outdoor drinking areas were packed, but we luckily scored a table and soaked up the rays and 60 degree weather. We sat there for a few hours, just enjoying not having to wear a heavy coat, then we went next door to Union Pizza Works for some coal oven pizza, both of which had mushrooms because that’s how you turn a good day into a great day.

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Me, praying to Jared Leto and asking him to give me good hair, Pimms cups at The Rookery, free nachos (!) at Videology, and Valerie with her dog, Mia.

After we finished the last of our on-tap Peroni, we continued on our way in search of another bar, preferably a quiet, not crowded one where we could roam free. We stumbled upon The Johnson’s, which an offshoot of a popular dive on the Lower East Side, although this new spot is anything but. You can tell it’s new because it is ~so clean~ (rare a find so it felt luxurious). It had an adorable little outdoor patio area with fun swing chairs and big benches, plus $5 cocktails and $2 Lionshead beers. You really can’t go wrong with that. We continued on our merry way there, until we were all tired and decided to go back to our friend Morgan’s place before we realized, yes, we are incredibly tired, and ended up at home by 8pm. Kramer and I ordered sandwiches, watched Hannibal, and fell asleep by 10pm. What a perfect Saturday. On Sunday, Kramer and I slept in, then met with our friends Valerie and Tom, and her sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew for a fantastic Mexican feast at Casa Enrique in Long Island City. I had lengua tacos (of course), plenty of chips and guac, and some of Tom’s crab ceviche, alongside a margarita or two. I was stuffed, but I probably could have had another taco. We went back to Tom and Val’s afterward, where the kids decorated cupcakes that Valerie had made, and where Kramer and I ate said cupcakes. They are always wonderful hosts, making sure that Kramer and I are full of food and drink and letting us endlessly play with their dog, Mia. I convinced everyone that we should watch John Mulaney’s New in Town, and we all ate some more Mexican food and laughed our asses off until it was time to go home. It was an incredible weekend and I can’t believe it’s already Thursday and almost time for another one!

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I feel like I am forever making different kinds of banana bread, but what about peanut butter? Poor, neglected peanut butter. The truth is that I bake quite often for my office, but there are some people there who are allergic to nuts, peanuts especially, so I tend to steer clear of those recipes for fear of putting someone into anaphylactic shock. For those reasons, the peanuts stay at home. But Kramer and I are peanut butter fiends. I eat peanut butter almost once a day, and does does he. We stir it into our oatmeal, have it on toast, or sometimes I just spoon a couple of tablespoons of it into a bowl with sliced banana and honey. It’s my power food and I would be lost without it. I decided to go against the grain one afternoon and make a little peanut butter snack for just Kramer and me. I saw how The Tough Cookie decorated her peanut butter cake with slivers of sliced apples, and it was so pretty that I couldn’t resist doing the same thing myself. This cake is incredibly peanut butter-y, with a great texture from the crunchy peanut butter and a lovely moist crumb. It’s definitely more of a cake than a bread, but I’m fine with that. After Kramer and I ate a quarter of this loaf, I decided to freeze it (for our own good). When I pulled it out again for a snack a week later, it was even better and more flavorful after having thawed out on the counter. The recipe would probably make good muffins, too, and I could see the sliced apples being beautiful if twirled into little roses or circles on muffins. Loaf or muffin, give this recipe a try for the peanut butter fanatics in your life.

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Robin Egg Cookies

with white chocolate

I finally finished my big freelance project that I’ve been talking about last night. I’m sure some edits will come up, but it was basically what I’ve spent the last month on and it felt really, really good to put all of the photos in Dropbox and hit send. I celebrated like any red blooded American: with a nice glass of bourbon and the newest episode of Community. You wouldn’t think that cooking and photographing 20 recipes would take as long as it does, but you’d be surprised. You’ve got to do all of the shopping for the ingredients, make a schedule so that you’re organized and not overwhelmed, cook each individual thing, style it, pull props out of your messy closet, shoot it, upload the photos to your computer, and edit them. My arthritic fingers ache at the thought. I am proud of the photos, though. I did the same project last year and I think that these photos are even better, plus it’s always exciting to be challenged and work for a client instead of just doing my own thing. Having said that, I feel like this weekend is going to be really relaxing. The weather is supposed to be nice, Kramer and I have oyster plans tonight, and I’m getting my hair done (hopefully a la Jesus himself, Jared Leto, my hairspiration) tomorrow. Then on Sunday, we’ve got brunch plans with friends in Long Island City, where I plan to eat my weight in tacos. This is the good life, indeed. Oh! And how could I forget? The new Muppet Movie and Jason Bateman’s Bad Words comes out this weekend. How do we pick? It’s nearly impossible. Do you like how I said that the weather is supposed to be nice and then my next thought is about going to the movies? What can I say? I’m in indoor cat.

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Delicious treats.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the folks at Treatsie. They told me about their monthly boxes, and how for $15 a month, you can get different delicious treats delivered right to your door. I’ve done similar subscription services in the past for things like granola and snacks (see: snax), so I was familiar with the process, and, let’s be honest, excited by the prospect of candy and chocolate. I was asked, “Do you want to try out a box and give a box away to one of your readers?” Fun! You bet I did. The box I got was awesome. It had sea salt chocolate, cinnamon brown sugar chocolate and salted dulce de leche chocolate, a variety of fruity hard candies, which are perfect for a little something sweet late at night, and two kinds of rich chocolate truffles – one was almond and smoked sea salt, and the other was zested lime. Needless to say, Kramer and I went to town on this box, and I’m happy to say that Treastie agreed to send a box to one of you, too! There’s a form that you can fill out after the jump, so get to it and hopefully you’ll soon be snacking away on tasty, artisanal treats soon. If you don’t win, there’s always the option to buy a box for yourself. After all, Treatsie supports small, local businesses, and that’s something I think we can all get behind.

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Spring has sprung, as it were. I like spring, and as previously mentioned, having a reprieve from the cold mistress that is winter is lovely, but the warmer temperatures mean that summer is just around the corner. I hate summer. New York summers, in particular, are the worst. But I guess I have plenty of time to be grumpy about that, so I’ll enjoy the breeze and the sunshine for now. I. GUESS. Don’t worry. I’ll be complaining about the heat plenty once that arrives. For now, though, let’s throw on our pastels, get out our picnic blankets and take comfort in the fact that it’s no longer pitch black when we leave work for the day. I walked into the pharmacy a few weeks ago and saw the big, beautiful spring-themed end caps. I landed on Robin Eggs. My mom always liked these, because they are just Whoppers with a candy coated shell, and she loved Whoppers. I thought that I could bash the crap out of the eggs with a rolling pin (see: free therapy), throw them into my basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, and bake away. I love how these came out. The candy shells melted into pretty swirls, the malted milk balls left a little bit of a chewy crunch, and then I threw in some white chocolate for depth and added richness. The ends were crispy, the insides were soft, and all in all, I think that these are some fantastic seasonal cookies. The colors alone make them irresistible, but the melted candy shells were my favorite part and kept me going back for just one more.

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Twisted Cheese & Scallion Bread

soft and pillowy

I’ve been too busy this week doing a whole lot of nothing. What I mean by that is I’ve been avoiding work instead of doing things I need to be doing. Tonight I solemnly swear to knock it off. It’s just so easy to shirk responsibilities in favor of going out or watching TV. You guys know that TV has gotten really good, right? It’s almost impossible to not watch it. Especially when you have a partner in crime, i.e. a husband. Because he, too, always has a ton going on between work and school, we have a hard time doing much once we are both home and on the couch. I need to kick this winter thing. I’m in hibernation mode. How do you make yourself be more productive? What are your tricks? Do you reward yourself? I feel like I’ve been rewarding myself for doing nothing. Maybe if I write it down here, it’ll force me to stop doing that. Let’s test out that theory.

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Food juxtaposition: Best Pizza and a grapefruit/avocado salad, cocktails from Featherweight and my sneak preview (thanks to my awesome job) of the Taco Bell waffle taco.

Anywho, here we are. I’m really excited about this bread. I made it on a day that I wasn’t feeling particularly awesome and was in one of those weird moods where you can’t just sit on the couch, which as previously stated is my favorite thing in the world. I managed to make myself stand up, though, and get into the kitchen. The nice thing about bread, once you get past being afraid of yeast and the rising process, is that you get to take a couple of breaks while you make it. Mix the dough together, let it rise. Shape the dough, let it rise. Bake the bread, let it cool. For that reason, bread is not the best thing to make when you’re in a hurry, but it’s perfect for relaxing and taking it easy. Kneading is almost meditative. If that sounds crazy, make a loaf of bread next time you feel like crap and let me know how you feel when you’re done. I’ll tell you how it makes me feel: it makes me feel like I’ve done something. The term “from scratch” comes to mind. I usually hate when people say that, but I think it applies to bread because you really do start out with almost nothing and end up with the most basic, life sustaining food there is.

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So, yeah. Maybe methodically mixing and kneading is the new feel good medicine of 2014. Try it and see what you think. Either way, this bread is like a club recommendation from Stefan because it has everything: cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese, butter, scallions, garlic and red pepper flakes. Life sustaining, indeed. I originally saw the recipe on Seasons and Suppers, which is a beautiful blog that I absolutely love. When I realized I had everything I needed to make this bread, thanks to some leftover cheese from a party, I immediately stood up to get baking. Rolling all of the goodness up into the dough, then slicing it in half and twisting it up is pure genius, and I am going to try using this method for other things soon. I gave one of these loaves away and brought the other into work – I think everyone really enjoyed it. How can you not? While it’s especially good warm, it’s still delicious if you’re standing up in your kitchen, ripping off hunks and stuffing them greedily into your mouth. But that’s just what I think.

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Peanut Butter & Honey Cheerio Bars

no baking required

I’ve seen the sunshine in New York for four days in a row! Can you believe it? My body is overwhelmed with vitamin D. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still cold. But it’s becoming less so and the promise of a little taste of spring makes everything okay. Friday night was still chilly, but we managed to go out, anyway. What a surprise. We started out at The Grand with our friend Maitri. They have a pretty decent happy hour special that includes $1 oysters and 2-for-1 old fashioneds, so I had to check it out. We knocked back oysters, cocktails, beers and wings, then said goodbye while Kramer and I headed over to our favorite local spot, Burnside, where we wolfed down some of their amazingly McDonald’s-esque French fries before meeting up with a co-worker and his friends. We may have overdone it that night. S-I-G-H. I woke up feeling less than top notch, and Kramer was feeling it even more than me (for once). We ordered in some breakfast, as most New Yorkers are wont to do when hungover (sorry, Mom), but a combination of coffee, water, coconut water and ginger-ale (the quadfecta) revived us in time for lunch, which we were picking up from Graham Avenue Meats (the godfather sandwich, spicy, of course). My friend, Sarah, just had a baby, and since you can’t eat deli meats while you are pregnant (the horror), I wanted to bring her over my favorite deli sandwich once her daughter was born. Kramer and I sauntered over there, four large sandwiches in hand, to see the proud parents and meet the baby.

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Matt and Kramer, the $16 soup and sandwich lunch special at Gramercy Tavern, my friend Emily’s newest edition to her art collection and Kramer, ready to call it a day.

Holding a baby is not something that I had ever done before, and I wasn’t sure how comfortable the first-time-parents would be letting their sweaty, clumsy food blogger of a friend who just demolished a giant sub sandwich hold their one and only. But I think maybe there is some humor in watching me hold a two week old child. I would only hold her if I sat on the couch and got strapped in by a security blanket of pillows, because as previously stated, I am not the most graceful of beings. They put the baby in my arms and the sweating began. I sat up perfectly straight and did not move a single muscle. Sarah and her husband, Russ, looked at me and I knew they were laughing behind their kind smiles. Kramer too, although replace the kind smile with just straight up laughing. The baby is very cute, though, and Sarah and Russ are already kicking ass as parents. They’re naturals. Kramer and I, on the other hand, are thinking about maybe getting a puppy some time in the next few years. I’m definitely more of a dog person than a human person. I also think I am more of a cool aunt than a mom. Do you guys remember Daria’s cool aunt? With any luck, that will be me one day.

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Recently, a different co-worker let me know that he had made these Peanut Butter and Honey Cheerios Bars from my blog for a party and that they were a big hit. “That’s awesome!” I said as I immediately clicked through my blog to find the recipe; there are so many on here and it’s easy to forget them after a year or so. I found the post, and dammit if the photos weren’t horrendous. I had to fix it. The recipe is so perfect that the photos simply did not do it justice. So, here we are with some photos that I think I can be more proud of. The bars are so easy to throw together that it’s hard to not stand up and make them immediately. You just need Cheerios, peanut butter, honey and sugar. That’s it. Melt the honey and sugar together, stir in the peanut butter, pour it all over the Cheerios, wait about 30 minutes or so, and boom! Delicious, chewy cereal bars that anyone without a severe nut allergy can enjoy. I made them for our Oscar get together a few weeks ago, and I think they were very well received. I threw a few leftovers in the freezer, but I haven’t touched them yet. I’ll let you know how they thaw out, but I have a feeling they’ll be just as good as the day that I made them. I sprinkled some roughly chopped, salted peanuts over the top of my bars, but maybe some chocolate chips or another drizzle of warm, melted peanut butter would be equally delicious. Stir in some Reeses Pieces or chopped up Reeses peanut butter cups, or even better, replace the Cheerios with peanut butter Captain Crunch! These bars as a versatile as they are irresistible.

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©2014 The Crepes of Wrath