Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Treats: Applesauce Cake

This applesauce cake is perfect on a weekend when all you want to do is burrow into the couch with dessert and a cup of tea. It has that rustic look and taste, more like a bread than a cake, and it's one of those sweets that can totally pass as breakfast. I added chopped pecans to mine because why not and dusted it with powdered sugar to make it a little bit fancy.

Applesauce Cake
Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for cake pan
3 large apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and cut into chunks
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground c innamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired
confectioners' sugar (optional), for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch round cake pan. In a medium saucepan, bring apples and 1/4 cup water to a simmer over high. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until apples are very tender, 12 minutes. Mash apples with a whisk, stirring to dry mixture slightly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk brown sugar into apples, then oil. Whisk in eggs, then flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped nuts. Transfer batter to pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Invert and let cake cool on rack. To serve, dust top with confectioners' sugar if desired. Serves 8.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kids Act Out Oscar Nominees

These pint-sized interpretations of the Best Picture nominees are too cute. I think The King's Speech is especially adorable, and I can actually watch this version of Black Swan with my eyes open.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Room with a View

I feel like snow and I can call it quits for a while. In a place like New York, the fresh, white blanket lasts for about 20 minutes before a gray, watery slush begins to take its place. Although I have to say, it is nice to look at from my apartment window, 26 floors above reality. 

I'll be staying inside this weekend, and maybe some baking is necessary. What are you up to?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Perfect Pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds

I have a deep, abiding love of good dessert, and I will go out of my way to find it. One day, people will gather 'round to hear of my exploits involving the pursuit of sugar. In this case, a 40-minute subway ride to Brooklyn in the name of pie.

I saw Four & Twenty Blackbirds on the Cooking Channel months ago, and it has been calling my name ever since. Amidst an auto repair shop and noisy streets sits this adorable and homey cafe. When the girl behind the counter described a slice of Salty Honey as the "creme brulee of pies," my decision was made. Simultaneously chewy and gooey, salty and sweet, with a perfect buttery crust and a pile of fresh whipped was pie perfected and well worth the journey.

My one regret, I felt it wasn't socially acceptable to eat more than one piece by myself. Next time, I'd take a friend or three with me to sample a few more of their offerings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wine Lover

Somewhere between red and purple lives wine, and it is absolutely one of my favorite colors. There's something so lavish and cozy about it. Anthropologie currently has the shade in all sorts of forms.

Speaking of wine, yesterday, I met the delightful, hilarious Amy of Old Sweet Song for a glass. You know it's gonna be a good time when both people want an order of pigs in blankets. She's awesome, so go check out her blog!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feeling Chili

I am not a cold weather person, and yesterday, it was 9 degrees. On the plus side, there could not have been a more opportune time to make chili. I used Real Simple's turkey chili recipe, mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand and I was doing my very best to avoid leaving the apartment. It came together fast and it was perfectly delicious. So there are two good things about January: chili and hot chocolate. I can't think of much else.

Turkey and Bean Chili
Recipe courtesy of Real Simple

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper or 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
cilantro sprigs, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and chili pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, beans, 1/2 cup water, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve the chili with the sour cream and cilantro. Serves 4.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bathing Beauties

Luxurious bathrooms aren't really part of the New York City lifestyle. In fact, a lot of these bathrooms look like they're about the size of my living room. I can't even dry my hair while my husband brushes his teeth, but a girl can dream, right?

[spotted on: Sunset]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thoughts of the Week

These pretty coffee mugs may be the thing that will get me through winter.

If I had this bathtub, I would never get out of it, so it's probably best that I don't.

Yet another deer has stolen my heart. I can't get enough.

Sometimes small town life seems so appealing.

Red, white and blue is clearly acceptable throughout the year.

Some desserts will make you feel like a lady, and some make you feel like a chocolate-crazed lunatic.

This colorful cottage is calling my name.

Paris even looks good on paper.

Faces can show up in the strangest of places, so be on the lookout.

Have a wonderful weekend! If you're in a cold place, stay warm, and if you're in a warm place, go outside!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Mango

I love mango on its own and in sweets, but lately I've been including it in my salads and savory dishes. The color alone is enough to make your meal more enjoyable. Next step, cutting it into adorable little hearts.

[spotted on: Once Wed]

Put a Bird on It

Oh, this makes me laugh. Have you guys heard of Portlandia? As an adopted Northwesterner, I'm interested to see just how accurate it is.

*The clip seems to be a little sporadic in Google Chrome, but Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc. should have you covered.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Need of Some Color

I'm desperate for a little color in my life. It's gray outside, yesterday it rained ice, something needs to change here. One of these items should do it, or I could just go get a tan on a beach somewhere. I'm okay with either option.

[mosaic card; reclaimed wood; abstract print; bird pillow]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Love Grows in Brooklyn

I'm lucky enough to have a talented photographer as a friend and a beautiful bride-to-be as a friend, so when we were all together last fall, this gorgeous engagement photo shoot resulted. The bride is the same one who is having the vintage-inspired, peacock-paletted wedding in May, and she's been blessed with a stylish, good-spirited fiancĂ©e. They love each other and they love Brooklyn, so all of these photos were taken throughout the borough. I played assistant, which basically involved a lot of coat holding and macaron eating ... all in a day's work.

[images courtesy of: Reams Photo]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Supper: Italian Grilled Cheese

Last night, I needed a fast, easy dinner so I could slump down on the couch and watch the Golden Globes. I made what I affectionately (and probably inaccurately) refer to as an Italian grilled cheese. It's filled with gooey mozzarella, prosciutto and some torn basil. Paired with a bowl of tomato soup and kale chips, it made for a perfect cold day comfort meal.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dressing Vintage

I'm going vintage shopping today. It's not at all my forte, but one of my very best friends is getting married in May and has requested all the bridesmaids wear dresses from the fifties and sixties in a peacock color palette. How gorgeous will that be? I've already started channeling Betty Draper, minus all the crazy.

If you know of any great vintage shops on Etsy or otherwise, feel free to pass them along. Thanks for all your sweet words yesterday! Y'all are my favorites. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blog Birthday

My blog is three years old today. I can't believe how time flies. I am so very grateful for all of your visits, your comments, your emails, and your own inspiring thoughts and images. A lot of people ask me why I blog. The short answer: it makes me happy. And that's thanks to all of you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold Days, Warm Milk

I love waking up to snow on the ground. The view goes particularly well with a mug of warm milk. A dash of cinnamon and vanilla take it to this sort of calming Zen level, which is necessary before trudging through the snow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pasta and Beans

Despite New Year's resolutions, it's cold outside and my body is craving lots of carbs to keep it warm for the winter. This stew-like version of pasta e fagioli fills that need while sneaking plenty of veggies into the mix. Use whole grain pasta instead of regular and you'll still respect yourself in the morning.

Pasta e Fagioli
Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 celery stalks, diced medium
2 carrots, diced medium
1 small red onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 sprig oregano
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Parmesan rind (optional), plus 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan for serving
1 cup small pasta, such as ditalini
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

In a medium heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add celery, carrots, onion, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 9 minutes. Add oregano, tomatoes, broth, and Parmesan rind (if using). Increase heat to high and simmer rapidly until liquid thickens slightly, 5 minutes. Add pasta and cook, partially covered, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add beans and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. To serve, remove rind and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan. Serves 4.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Band Together

Over the weekend, my husband and I did a little wedding band shopping at Catbird in Brooklyn. Yes, we're already married, but he lost his ring last year. It's not so sad, he never really liked it that much anyway. So we're taking our time to find him a perfect wedding band. Problem is, I kept finding rings for myself. Maybe we both need an upgrade.


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