Simple Chicken Tostadas


I have this friend. Her name is Kristen.

Kristen and I met in the best of ways — we were Craigslist roommates. When I first moved to DC, I was sleeping on a very gracious friend’s couch for two or three weeks while I was job and house hunting. I didn’t quite understand how carnivorous house hunting in this city would be, and Kristen’s house happened to be the first actual open house I’ve ever experienced.

It was a group house near Dupont Circle, and the room was going for $780 — a steal, even by 2009 standards. On my walk to the house, I figured: well, a room in the gayborhood that I can actually afford. There must be something wrong with the place.



When I walked in, I was initially shocked by the number of girls in the house, visiting to try to snag the room. But I luckily ran into Sarah, the girl who was moving out (insert typical name-coincidence banter here), who gave me a quick tour of the room. I asked her a few questions, and I like to think that she and I hit it off. I think I mentioned that this was my first open house.

“Here’s what you do,” she said. “Go find each of the roommates. Talk to them, and make sure they remember you. Say hi to Kristen first — she’s on the balcony.”

So I worked my way through a tiny house filled with girls, some of them dressed up and holding gift bottles of wine. Well, this is probably a waste, I thought to myself, regretting the choice of sweaty running clothes amidst all the yuppies in their post-work wear. There were at least seven people on a patio that comfortably fits four. There was a white couch with one seat open. I looked at it, and the girl sitting there offered me the seat. That was Kristen.



Kristen was wearing the equivalent of (purple) Soffe shorts and a yellow-ish spaghetti tank top. It was a hot and sweaty night in September. She was drinking cheap beer. She later informed me that other Sarah had made her change from a less acceptable outfit into this one. She argues that her future roommates needed to know what she’d actually look like when living with her — valid.

“Nice,” I said, pointing to the beer.

“I teach 7th graders,” she replied. I think I made a joke about how she should probably double fist with another beer. We hit it off, and I told her that I wanted to meet the other roommates that lived there. She mentioned one of them still being at work, and the other, well, he apparently made pancakes every day at 2 PM (more true than I’d like to remember).

So I eventually worked my way through the house, met the boys (and even asked which one of them made pancakes on the reg). I made friends with the other girls there, mostly under the assumption that no one I met would have been offered the room. After all, you have to form allies. I needed a place to live. As I walked down the steps of the house, a few of the girls and I exchanged phone numbers. The companionship in such a competitive situation was more comforting than I expected.

I took the train back to Arlington, where I was staying, and decided to grab a cheap dinner at the Pentagon City mall on my way home. They had wifi, so I figured I could check Craigslist for any housing postings that I hadn’t written to yet (I’m pretty good at the numbers game). And right when I sat down with my three-dollar slice of pizza and opened my computer, the email from Sarah was there — I got the room. I had a home!

Without even thinking about it, I accepted. And moved in a week or two later. It was a good year-and-a-half run in that house — I started this blog, and Kristen was part of the core group that encouraged it. Hopefully, you’ll be reading a guest post from her sometime soon (I’ve been trying to get her to write about these tostadas for six months).

Now, she has her own apartment, and hands-down, the cutest cat in the world. Last winter, she made this dish for brunch one morning — years later, she decided to pick up cooking. It made me so. happy.

This is the result of a brilliantly creative, DGAF mind who randomly decides to pick up cooking. She made this up on the fly. I’ve attempted to recreate the recipe below.






Simple Chicken Tostadas, a la Go Team Kristen (makes 6 tostadas)

8 corn tortillas (6 for tostadas, 2 to slice into strips for garnish)
1 can refried beans
2 jalapenos, diced
2 or 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 to 5 green onions, depending on how much you adore green onions
A handful of chopped red cabbage
Vegetable oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese, jack or cheddar
Sour cream
1 Avocado, sliced
1 lime, sliced

This dish requires a sink full of dishes, but it’s well worth it.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

To start, pat the pieces of chicken dry with a paper towel, and season them with salt and pepper. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a skillet, and cook the chicken on medium heat. Saute with a healthy handful of diced jalapenos and green onions until the chicken is cooked all the way through (and hopefully with a bit of browning). Once that’s done, transfer the contents of the skillet to a bowl, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, empty the can of refried beans and heat on medium.

Then, drizzle a little bit more oil into the skillet, and have a baking sheet nearby. Carefully fry each tortilla, one at a time, until crispy — getting both sides to reach a light golden brown (we’ll be baking them as well, so you don’t want them too dark). As you finish each one, place them about an inch apart from each other on your baking sheet. Then, slice the remaining 2 tortillas into 1/4-inch strips, and fry until crispy. Let those ones drain on a paper towel, and set aside.

Spoon a dollop of refried bean on each tortilla, spreading to cover the tortilla, but leaving an edge for a crust. Then, top with a portion of the cooked chicken, and then the shredded cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly — about 10 minutes. But keep an eye on it, since everyone’s oven is different!

While the tostadas are in the oven, combine the chopped cabbage, green onions, and remaining jalapenos into a bowl with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

When you remove the tostadas, top them with sour cream, the cabbage mixture, avocado slices, and the fried tortilla strips. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Ginger Fried Quinoa


I’m no stranger to traveling alone. In fact, if I go someplace fairly far away, even if I’m visiting someone, I prefer taking the trip by myself.

There are a few reasons behind this — aside from the fact that I need time to myself to unwind, I can be very productive on a train or a plane. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written a good chunk of the posts on this blog on trains to Baltimore or New York, or airplanes to Los Angeles.

I am a creature of habit. I like left window seats by train, and right aisle seats by air. I listen to a handful of playlists, but when I travel, I generally stick to full albums. At the moment, Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane is helping draw out thoughts and emotions that I tried to coax out hands that type them earlier this week. Side note: some of you associate your emo days with All American Rejects and teenage boys who wear eyeliner. Back in high school, I crushed on clownish nerds who skipped the classes to play classical guitar in the parking lot, so my emo days align more closely with Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz.


fried egg

Alone time is something I’m almost always itching for — it’s something that’s rare for me, because much of my free time is spent dedicated to the government, or to Google. And while I vowed to dedicate a certain number of hours this week to freelance work and blogging, I found myself in a series of Mad Men wormholes this week.

The choice of television show seems appropriate, now that I think of it — workaholics in the creative industry, each at varying stages on the happy-to-miserable spectrum.


When I’m not traveling, one of the few moments I generally get to myself is breakfast on a Saturday morning. As someone who spends Saturday nights at the gym or working at a coffee shop, waking up early and refreshed on Saturdays gives me a few hours of alone time before texts roll in and I set out for my day. So naturally, the food blogger that craves alone time cooks breakfast, for one.

Growing up with a Filipino mother, one of my favorite things to eat as a child was rice and soy sauce (some of you cringe, but the simplicity of rice and soy sauce makes me salivate). And sometimes, my mom would make fried rice with the leftovers. She’d scramble a few eggs, and I’d give it more soy sauce. As I type this, I realize why I’ve always struggled with carbs.

These days, I try to eliminate rice from my diet. So I’ve taken my childhood comfort food, and made it a little healthier, and a little more grown-up — I buy quinoa instead of rice, throw in a good chunk of fresh ginger, and top with green onions from my window garden.

It’s a good relax-in-bed-with-samurai-sudoku morning meal.

And when I crave company, well, I make something a little more fun. But when I need my morning in bed, the simplest meals are always the most satisfying.


Ginger Fried Quinoa, for one

1.5 cups cooked quinoa
A few tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (adjust to color and taste)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
Green onions – just an inch or two, diced off the tops
1 clove garlic
1 or two eggs

I generally keep a container of cooked quinoa in my refrigerator, in case I need some sort of quick meal or a backup lunch — but if you don’t, just cook some up according to the instructions on your package.

In a small frying pan, combine soy sauce with your quinoa over medium heat. Let it sit for a few minutes, and in the meantime, mince both your garlic and your ginger root. Add those into the pan, along with half of your green onions, and turn up the heat. I like to pat the quinoa down into a patty, so the bottom parts get crispy.

Taste as you go, and when you’re happy with it, go ahead and transfer your fried quinoa to a bowl. It generally takes about 10 minutes on the stove for me to get to that point.

Then, wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, grease with olive oil, and fry an egg or two to the yolk consistency you prefer. Serve on top of your quinoa, and top with the remaining green onions.

Labneh Breakfast B.L.T.


Last week was rough. Isn’t it horrible how your short work weeks can be the absolute worst? Sometimes, the world just wants you to work extra hard as punishment for having a day off.

Unfortunately for me, I spent most of my Memorial Day weekend with the flu — not fun. And being the optimist that I am, I convinced myself that I was not as sick as I actually was. So on Sunday, I went out for a few beers on a DC patio. There may or may not have been copious amounts of fresh donuts. And a $25 pig’s head. On a platter.



The consequence of tricking yourself into feeling healthier than you actually are, of course, trickles down over the course of a few days. Or a whole week. So throughout the entire week, I suffered the sick-enough-to-be-tired-all-day but not-sick-enough-to-not-be-at-work illness.

I pretty much couldn’t hold a single solid train of thought until Friday. And we all know how Fridays go.

(They don’t.)


I made up for the lethargy of last week with a super productive Saturday — I got back into my gym routine, cleaned my entire apartment, knocked out a few freelance tasks at a coffee shop, and then spent the afternoon and evening biking across DC to the Tour de Fat — a little hipster New Belgium beer festival at Navy Yard. It was too hot to take photos (in my mind), so my apologies for the lack of imagery. But the waterfront is gorgeous, and I got to explore my own personally unchartered territory of DC by bike.

Needless to say, I crashed into my bed the instant I got home, with the AC on full-blast. And I slept in, wandered to Whole Foods, where I eyed a container of labneh — a college staple when all of my friends were Lebanese.

The perfect cross between cream cheese and Greek yogurt does well on sandwiches. It was a good start to the end of the weekend.



Labneh Breakfast BLT

Whole grain sourdough, sliced
1 fresh heirloom tomato
1 egg
A few strips of bacon, baked or fried
2-3 tablespoons labneh

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with foil. Arrange your bacon on the foil, and bake for about 30 minutes, until crispy. When you remove the bacon from the oven, promptly drain each piece on paper towels on a separate plate.

Fry an egg to the yolk consistency you prefer, and toast two slices of whole grain sourdough. Generously spread one slice with labneh, and then top with your tomato, bacon, arugula and egg. Season with salt and pepper if you like — but the bacon and lebnah are pretty good on their own. I went without.

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs


I have a confession to make, reader. I’m on a… diet.

Luckily for you, I’m a weekend blogger. And on the weekends, I give myself a few freebies.

This recipe actually doesn’t veer too far away of what’s on my weekday work-and-freelance eatable list (basically lots of protein, vegetables, and the occasional condiment to go with it).



Anyway, this weekend, I had a few breaks from my freelance work, so I was able to spend all of Sunday on my blogger extravaganza. Or… for this post, the eggstravaganza.

I may still be dealing with the dreaded wintry mix, but it’s officially spring, and real-life spring is just around the corner. With Easter Sunday coming up, I thought I should prep a nice brunch recipe.

My dad, and his New Yorker blood, is a huge fan of lox. I don’t obsess over it like most people I know, and I don’t normally eat it by itself, but I do love a deviled egg. And in this case, I do love lox. And Old Bay. And pickles. And eggs.

All-around good recipe.

It’s time to let that quintessential New York Jewish mother persona take over. You know she’s hiding somewhere in there. Let her out. Make these deviled eggs, let’s start off a wonderful week.




Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, inspired by Food & Wine

Ingredients for 8 eggs (just multiply if you’re cooking for a crowd)
4 eggs
2 to 3 slices wood-smoked salmon, sliced, and any extra for garnish
1/4 cup mayonaise
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard (note: I like mustard. Perhaps start with 2, and add to taste.)
Dill pickles or cornichons — diced, about 1/3 cup
Old Bay seasoning for garnish


Hard boil your eggs — do this ahead of time, so you can work with chilled eggs later. There are many “tried and true” methods of hard boiling eggs. This is what works for me.

Fill a medium-sized saucepan with enough water to cover your eggs by about an inch. Heat the water and the eggs together on high, until the water boils. When the water starts boiling, set a timer for one minute — this is how long you should let the water boil. After, the minute is up, remove the saucepan from the heat altogether, and cover. Set another timer, for 30 minutes this time. During this 30 minutes, your eggs will finish cooking.

After 30 minutes, run the eggs under cold water until cool. As someone concerned about wasting water, I put them in an ice bath (large bowl + ice + water + salt). Either method does the trick.

With a sharp knife, slice each egg in half, wiping the knife clean after slicing each egg (because we don’t want yolk scraps on the edges of each egg white). Pop the yolks out, and place them in your food processor or blender. Set the whites aside.

Add the salmon, mayonaise, mustard, and half of the diced pickles. Blend until pink, light, and fluffy — about a minute or two. Taste test to make sure it’s lox-y enough. Feel free to add ingredients as you see fit. My measurements are generally estimates, anyway.

Fold in the remaining diced pickles, and transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe into each egg white, and generously top with Old Bay seasoning. Garnish with a little slice of lox.

Impromptu Breakfast Pizza


Some of my friends are strong proponents of the “yes man” idea. You know, by saying yes to everything — ways to make your life more exciting, adventurous, and fulfilling.

I’ve been saying “yes” for far too long.

While I know my design career has a long way to go, I’ve found myself in the same arm wrestling matches that I struggled with in high school and college: the tug-of-war between having free time and taking on too much work.

When it came to my career, I said yes to everything. Redesign my old job’s entire website without a raise? Sure, it’s good for my portfolio. Go on 23 job interviews in one year? Yes. Get me the eff out of said job. New job? Yes. Design infographics? Yes. Design infographics for Google? Yes. Design logos for Google? Yes. Design 5 infographics and 5 logos for Google in two weeks? … Yes.

Kill me? Yes. Been there. Done that.

(I’m dying, here.)



With spring well on its way, I’ve also struggled with the mess of a garden that has wriggled its way out from under my green thumb. Last summer came and ended quickly, and with a slurry of travels, the new job, and influx of freelance work, it’s really no wonder I didn’t get around to properly breaking it down and prepping for the winter.

For a while, anyway, I thought winter would never come. But as the saying goes, March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb.

Oh, how true that adage has proven itself this year.



With all the change that has taken over my life in the past twelve months, I can hardly even think about the possibilities for the next twelve. I toy with the idea of dropping everything and moving to the city of all cities, as you, as a reader, are well-aware of. But part of me is just as in-love with DC as I was three years ago.

And, like many other nights, reader, I have little substance, if any, to write.

Instead, I have much to design. And, like many other nights, I long for a weekend. A real one, that doesn’t have any freelance. And hopefully, I can blow off some freelance this weekend to get back to what I really enjoy: feeding the people I love, and finding content to strike some sort of emotional response. One that I can write to you, here.

In the meantime, enjoy the Sweetsonian version of food for those who procrastinate, cram, and deprive themselves of sleep: pizza.


Breakfast Pizza

250 g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 mL hand-hot water
Cornmeal, for dusting the crust

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

2 large onions, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts (canned are fine)
4 or 5 eggs
Arugula, parmesan, and feta — for topping


In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and hot water. Mix with the dough hook for about five minutes, until the dough is evenly combined. Then, transfer the dough to a clean surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. At first, the dough will be sticky, but as you knead, the gluten forms, and the dough will become smoother and more elastic.

Knead the dough into a ball, and set aside in a warm place to rise for one hour.

In a jar or bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, tomato sauce, mayonaise, and chili flakes, stirring with a fork. This will be your pizza sauce. Set aside.

Using a cast iron skillet or other medium- to large-sized frying pan, caramelize your onions. Drizzle with olive oil, and cook onions over medium to high head until the onions brown, and start to smell sweet — about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl, and then, saute your mushrooms until browned.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Strain the artichoke hearts.

When the dough has risen (up to twice in size), punch it down, and knead it a few more times. Have a large baking sheet or pizza stone ready. Carefully stretch or roll the dough as much as you can, in the shape you’d like for your pizza. Dust the bottom of the crust with cornmeal. Lightly grease your baking sheet with olive oil, and lay your crust flat on the sheet.

Generously spread the yogurt sauce on top of the crust, and then top the pizza with the onions, mushrooms, and artichokes. Then, go ahead and crack each egg onto the pizza. Try to do so in areas where the toppings will keep the eggs from spreading too far!

Bake the pizza for 10 minutes at 400, and then, broil the pizza for a few minutes to get a crunchy crust.

Top your pizza with lots of arugula, feta, and parmesan.

Simply Breakfast: Steak and Eggs

Ever since I started Sweetsonian, I’ve been a weekend blogger.

Years ago, when I had my handy Panasonic point-and-shoot, I knew the photos would be mediocre anyway, so I’d make attempts to cook at night and wake up early to take photographs on the balcony, but I’ve never been a morning person, and I’m now very comfortable with the fact that mornings just don’t agree with my schedule.

6:45, 7:00, 7:30, 7:45, 8:00, 8:15, 8:30, and 8:45. Throw in 9:00, 9:05, and 9:15, just in case.

Those are the alarms I set on my iPhone every single night. And what time do I usually roll out of bed? 8:45 AM. To get to the office at 10 o’clock.

I know. It’s pathetic. But a girl just needs her sleep.

It doesn’t help that I’m usually up late cramming in freelance work, but I’ve found a method that just works for me.

Chances are, I won’t spend my weekend days working on infographics, but I do get to take advantage of the good natural light in my living room. So generally, I’ll wake up early on a Saturday, scroll through the Google Doc of recipe ideas I have, and then hit the grocery store. After that, I just go to town in the kitchen — and my roommates can vouch for that. I push food on them like it’s crack.

One morning, Katie hosted a brunch for a bunch of her friends. I had planted the seed of steak and eggs the day before, when I tragically left my steaks on the stove to thaw with the warmers on. Needless to say, I’ll never do that again.

Anyway, Katie came back from the grocery store as I was pouring my Sunday morning coffee. Sugar and cream in hand, I sat down at the beer pong table that once served as our interim dining space, ready to dive into the latest issue of Bon Appetit. And then, I heard the clicking of our stove going on, a clamor of frying pans, and the rip of Katie’s fingernails to the shrinkwrap that housed two precious steaks, fresh from the refrigerator.

I think my immediate reaction was “NOOOOO!”


The first time I had ever really learned anything about cooking steak was this past October, when Angela (this girl) made me dinner. One of the first things she mentioned was letting the steak come to room temperature.

Naturally curious, since that evening, I have probably read at least ten articles on how to cook the perfect steak.

I may have leapt from my seat, and taken over brunch. For my first foray into a steak and eggs brunch en masse, I think it went pretty well. And honestly, the simplest meals are often the most satisfying.

And if I’m not delegating tasks anywhere else, I might as well be teaching friends of friends how to properly slice and caramelize onions in my own kitchen.

It’s win-win, really.


Recipe after the jump. Continue reading “Simply Breakfast: Steak and Eggs”

Bacon, Egg, Cheese, Avocado.


Living in a group house comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros: there is always someone to hang out with, younger roommates always make room for the best stories, and rent is pretty darn cheap.


Cons: sharing fridge space, sharing cleaning responsibilities, and dealing with noise and scheduling in general.

Needless to say, I love my house, but I’m more than ready for my own refrigerator and an office right next to my kitchen. Maybe even an awesome cat.

I never thought I’d catch myself aching for a studio, or wanting to live alone. I used to say that I’d just live in a group house until I was making bank, and then I’d just buy a two bedroom apartment to have on my own. A design studio/guest room really would be my end-all be-all.

Anyway, I’m toying with that. And the idea of not moving into a new apartment in DC at all, because… well, New York City maybe closer than it appears.



Breakfast Sandwiches


Bacon (1-2 slices per sandwich)
Brown sugar
English muffins (or croissants)
1/4 cup mayonaise
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (jarred is fine)
Garlic salt to taste
Red chili pepper flakes
Cheddar cheese, sliced


To prep the caramelized bacon, preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil — this makes cleanup easier. As illustrated in the photos above, line the strips of bacon about an inch apart, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Make sure to waste as little sugar as possible, because we’d rather have everything on the bacon.

Bake for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on what parts of the bacon are cooking faster — your oven probably has some hot spots. Be sure to rotate the sheet as necessary. When the bacon is finished, drain for a few minutes on paper towels, but remove once they drain because the paper will stick.

In a small bowl or jar, combine the mayonaise, tomato sauce, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix until smooth, and set aside.

Slice your avocado. Set aside.

Spray a small frying pan lightly with olive oil over high heat. We want the pan hot — hold your hand an inch or two over the surface to make sure it’s pretty hot. Then, crack an egg onto the pan. With a silicone spatula handy, delicately monitor the egg, keeping it as round as you can. Once the sides are solid enough, slide the silicone spatula under the egg, and gently flip it over. Cook to the desired consistency of the yolk, and only cook one egg at a time! Unless you want them to all cook together.

Lightly toast your English muffins before assembling the sandwiches. Spread a generous amount of the chile mayo on the bottom half, then place the egg, bacon, and avocado. Finish with a slice of cheddar cheese. Then, put everything in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese melts.

Hangover special, enjoy.

Pumpkin Swirl Coffee Cake

With the cooler temperatures and warmer colors, I find myself yearning for a couple of hours to curl up with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a book of short stories by the bay windows. Or on a park bench.

Let’s be real. It will be at least another week before I have a couple of free hours.

Luckily, I had an hour to myself on a quick flight from Chicago to write this.

My favorite short story is a dark American tale by Flannery O’Connor. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery writes about the Misfit, and the unfortunate family that crosses paths with a serial killer somewhere in the rolling hills of Tennessee.

Despite the thriller undertones and the sadness you feel for each despicable character, the story always makes me wander through the mistakes I’ve made, and how they’ve affected those I care for, or those I should care for more. It always sparks some dark self examination that I would otherwise forget. As a single twenty something who doesn’t date enough, I sometimes find myself wondering if I misjudge character, or worse, if I misjudge my own.

The truth is, a good man is really, really, hard to find. Ask any woman that you truly respect — whether she has one, two or none, I’m sure she’ll agree.

An overdue reunion with someone who knew me long before I even knew myself helped confirm the necessity of leaving home, and the necessity of giving yourself the option of never looking back. We hesitantly caught each other up with those who were once important to us in our respective high school and college circles, and more easily about those who still are important. And the difference we would subtract between those we love and those we can no longer stand up for can be vastly oversimplified to what seems so hard to come by: self-respect.

Even through high school, when the levels of a teenage girl’s respect are generalized at an all-time low, she was one who, like all of us, needed reassurance, but unlike many, never compromised her self-respect. Seeing her for the first time in years, in the element so familiar to both of us — but thousands of miles from the last brief rendezvous — gave me the words that I’ve been so desperately seeking. And, although this is possibly the lesser of the reminders of why I love her so, she helped remind me to not let perceptions get in the way of good judgment.

So here I am, curled up in a new bed with an old comforter. I have not attempted to clean my room since before that 200 mile race, which was two weeks ago now — but don’t worry, the laundry has been conquered, so all hope is not lost. But there are days. We all have them. When we just can’t get ourselves to clean up the mess we’ve made.

Instead, I’m still savoring the steak she crafted. I’m still indulging in the conversation, the advice, and the comfort that never left. A conversation that can be somber, satisfying, and interspersed with giggles — that was something I desperately needed.

So, as 2012 winds down, I’m reminded of how thankful I am. To have a family that loves me, to have health that permits indulgence, and to have found friends like the ones I love so dearly. And more than anything, I am thankful to have found my voice. Looking back is not an option.

Pumpkin Swirl Coffee Cake, adapted from Saveur

For the crumb topping:  
1.5 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the cake:
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

For the swirl:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To create the crumb topping, whisk your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then, add the cubes of butter, and really get in with your hands to crumb everything together — you should end up with a dry cookie dough consistency. And don’t even attempt to do this with anything but your hands. My friend Randall tried to use a fork, and ended up tossing it. It’s more fun to delve your fingers into a bowl of sugar and butter anyway.

Once the crumb is complete, set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip the 8 tablespoons of butter you have softened for the cake. Once it is light and whipped, add in the sugar and beat on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk until even and lump-free. Combine with the ingredients in your stand mixer, and beat on low with a dough hook until everything is smoothly mixed. Then, slowly add 2/3 cup milk.

At that point, add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, and either mix with a spatula or let the dough hook do a little more mixing. You don’t want to mix the swirl all the way in — after all, we want it to swirl with the dough itself.

Grease a 9×4-ish inch pan, or line with parchment paper. Transfer all of the dough to the pan, and then just dump all the crumb topping on there.  There’s a lot, but with crumb topping… I mean, the more the merrier.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the center of the cake and have it come out clean.

Mushroom Quiche

This week is going to be a busy one.

I mean, September has just been leaning towards the crazy side. I’ll fill you in on bowling at the White House, Florence + the Machine, and the 200 mile relay race that I have not trained for when I get back next week.

In the meantime, this mushroom quiche should hold y’all over. Thanks for reading!


Mushroom Quiche, adapted from Smitten Kitchen


Pastry Shell
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sicks or 225 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into a small dice
1/4 cup (60 ml) water, ice cold

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive or vegetable oil
About 1 pound mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter
2 onions, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (use 1 teaspoon only if dried/jarred)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cups (475 ml) milk
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish


In a stand mixer, combine the 2 cups flour with the salt. With the machine on low speed, add in the cubes of butter, just a few cubes at a time, until the butter is completely worked in. Slowly ad the water in. Once a solid dough is formed, wrap the ball of dough in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. If you’re in a rush, pop it in the freezer for a bit.

Have a pie pan prepared — rub it with some unsalted butter, and sprinkle some flour along the edges. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out your crust to about a 16-inch circle. Don’t worry about holes or wrinkles, because you can just patch those up with bits and pieces of crust. Transfer your crust to the pan, and make sure you fold the edges over the lip of the pie dish to keep the dough from slipping off the edges. Poke the bottom with a fork like crazy, and bake at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown.

In a large skillet, combine the olive oil, mushrooms, and finely sliced onions. Season with salt, pepper and thyme, and saute until the onions are translucent.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and whisk in the parmesan, milk, and mushroom-onion mix. Pour into your baked quiche crust, and bake at 35o degrees for one hour.