sweet potato kale goat cheese frittata

Anything that can give the illusion of order is welcomed in my life. Enter: the frittata. Bear with me.
IMG_1856The frittata’s appeal is the order it seems to impose, by way of egg, on what amounts to a bunch of whatever happened to be left in your fridge. A frittata could easily be a “scramble” or hash, or even an omelette, but it surpasses these inferior egg-based dishes by organizing its contents into a neat, skillet-shaped disc. The cherry tomatoes seem to orbit calmly around the constellations of goat cheese, surrounded by passing comets of caramelized red onions and garlic above serene clouds of kale suspended in an eggy stratosphere, all  grounded by hearty sweet potatoes. It’s a protein-packed,  kale-y joy. It brings a little bit of order into this chaos we call life, if you will.IMG_1852The frittata might literally be the breakfast of champions: it is, after all, the overachiever in its category. While its cousin scrambled eggs glorifies disorder, and its sibling the omelette threatens to disintegrate into disorder at any moment and only halfway disguises its inner disarray,  its distant uncle the sunny-side-up egg always just ends up all over the place, and its uppity sister the quiche makes everyone feel inadequate with her pretentious crust and fussy recipe, the frittata is clearly the one keeping things together. Keeping things real, and circular, and appealing. That’s the way I see it, anyway. To each his own. But I say—no day like today to let frittatas into your life.IMG_1858sweet potato kale frittata with goat cheese


4 eggs
2 tablespoons cream or milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream/milk, salt, and pepper until well-combined. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add in potatoes and onions, and sauté until both are soft, or about 10 minutes.
5. Add in kale and stir until it wilts.
6. Pour egg mixture evenly into skillet, and sprinkle evenly with tomatoes and cheese. Cook until egg just starts to set.
7. Place skillet in oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until egg sets and cheese is pretty melt-y.
8. Remove, cut into slices like pie, and serve immediately!IMG_1854


vegan chocolate almond ice cream

Instead of acknowledging the profoundly depressing fact that living in Chicago means resigning yourself to waiting until the end of April for temperatures to break 60 degrees, I chose to celebrate the fact that at least they finally did. This is the result. Or maybe the sudden and urgent ice cream craving that compelled me to create this banana-based impostor was triggered more out of a fundamental denial of the fact that the majority of this month has felt much like winter.

Can I also blame my (equally profoundly depressing) lack of posting on the cruel, mind-bending indefinite winter in which I live? Maybe four years of existing in the nebulous, endless, singular season of Chicago has taken its toll on my abilities to perceive the passage of time. 4 entire months have passed since I last updated this? I wouldn’t know because every month feels the same — COLD AND SAD. Kidding. Seriously though, I definitely need something to remind me of the passage of days. Since graduating (!) almost a month ago, they all seem to blend together into one. I was more than mildly uncomfortable when I realized, less than ten minutes into episode two of season seven of Mad Men, that Don Draper’s sad post-SC&P lifestyle closely resembles my own at the moment. I don’t want to dwell on that though. It’s sunny out today. Hope is in the air. And what better way to delineate the passage of time than FOOD, am I right?

Peep dat creaminess.

Peep dat creaminess.

I’m actually amazed it took me so long to come around to this—it’s so genius, so simple, so cheap. Take some bananas. Chop ’em up. Freeze ’em (that’s the hardest part, because it involves a modicum of patience). Toss them in your (beautiful and heavenly and life-changing) food processor (or simply smash with a spoon if the culinary gods haven’t graced you with such luxury as a food processor. You could probably also use a blender if you trust yours), along with various other ingredients: peanut butter could be an exhilarating choice, or strawberries, what have you. But a classic is cocoa powder. I went with cacao powder, ostensibly to be healthy but really because it just happened to be sitting in my pantry, yet un-opened. And also because thanks to Portlandia, the mere mention of the word cacao is enough to make me giggle, which is no small feat. Apparently the stuff is a superfood of sorts, full of antioxidants, magnesium, and iron, and it still tastes just like chocolate. I recommend it highly.

Blending this in the food processor took all of two minutes, and I was amazed by how actually creamy and ice-cream-like the end result was. Totally satisfied the craving, and I’m not one who’s partial to substitutes. I added some cacao nibs (he-he) and dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds for the crunch and salty-sweet factor, and ended up with a really decadent-feeling dessert that in actuality is much healthier than anything I normally eat. It’s so delicious, make it and switch it up with your own take! Like most good recipes, it welcomes experimentation.

In other news, I got a kitten, to comfort me in the post-graduate ennui by which I am currently enveloped. His name is Finnegan but I’m considering changing it because I never call him that. He is the best cat ever. Anyway, go eat fake ice cream. It’s appropriate because this is fake summer, it’ll probably be freezing again tomorrow. But summer’s so close I can taste it. It tastes like….ice cream. The real deal.

The yum-factor is strong here.

vegan banana-chocolate almond ice cream

3 bananas
2 tablespoons cacao powder (or to taste)
Cacao nibs to taste
Almonds, any style, to taste

1. Slice your nanners.
2. Freeze your nanners (should take two hours or so).
3. Smash your frozen nanners together, in a food processor or with the back of a spoon.
4. Smash in cacao powder until fully blended.
5. Re-freeze if necessary or serve immediately, sprinkled with cacao nibs and almonds to taste.

eggnog cake with brown sugar crumble and browned butter rum icing

Eggnog is an admittedly strange thing and certainly an acquired taste—especially when we’re talking about the almost fluorescent off-white store-bought chemical syrup that passes for the real deal in most households, including mine. But after a certain number of Christmases come to pass in one’s life, I’d wager that most individuals eventually do come to appreciate the merits of this deviant liquid concoction (if only for its ability to deliciously conceal the bite of booze with which it’s spiked). And I’d guess that its appeal is especially pronounced in the baking-inclined population. Who else among us regularly downs substances comprised primarily of raw egg and sugar with abandon?

In our house, eggnog was always poured and guzzled in furtive hours of the night during the weeks leading up to Christmas. In retrospect, I realize “Santa” probably cherished this much-needed respite from his/her gift-gathering duties, which covered not only gift-gathering and wrapping and hiding, but also preparing the entire house (and the fragile psyches therein) for an impending deluge of rowdy relatives eager to indulge in an almost obscene level of Christmas merriment. In the eyes of childhood me, the weekly nog carton depleted with increasing speed as the 25th approached. But it always remained a mysterious, almost foreboding and definitely unappealing beverage, stowed away in the northeast quadrant of our refrigerator door.

I can’t really recall when I came around to eggnog. Like coffee, the precise moment of acquisition of a taste for nog got lost in the nebulous zone between one level of maturity and the next one. Kind of like with Santa—there wasn’t really a definitive loss of belief, but rather a gradual accumulation of doubt with each passing Christmas. And now here we stand: a long-jaded Santa defector who transferred her enchantment from Father Christmas to eggnog. We all need something to believe in, right?

So I’m ringing in this Christmas with a bodacious proclamation of the Epoch of Eggnog in the form of a cake that means business. This cake is a gift (better than any Santa could bestow) much like the kind you’d find under the tree, in that half the fun is not knowing whats inside. Does it contain 4 sticks of butter? Don’t ask, you’ll ruin the surprise! (!…)

Eggnog can be polarizing (like most things worth anyone’s while), but one bite will show any nog-naysayer what’s what. If, like me, this is your first Christmas definitively away from the kiddie tabs, this cake is a bold monument to that and all the adult connotations that come with it. Santa hasn’t been real for a while, but guess what is? Rum-spiked brown butter glaze poured liberally on a 2-inch brown sugar crumble atop an eggnog cake. This is the new merry.

eggnog cake with brown sugar crumble and browned butter rum icing 


1 ½ cups flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
¾ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream + 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoons eggnog + 1 tablespoon spiced run

8 tablespoons/1 stick unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons spiced rum
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Meanwhile, make crumble by combining flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, then mixing in the melted butter. Set aside.


2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.


When it comes to all things eggnog, if you don’t grate your own nutmeg, you’re doing it wrong. However, pre-ground cinnamon is acceptable. If you want me to think you’re really cool, freshly grate both.


3. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy and smooth.


4. Add eggs one by one, beating thoroughly after each.


5. Beat in the sour cream, eggnog, and rum.

6. Add the flour mixture in two to three batches and mix with butter mixture on low speed until a thick, smooth batter forms.


7. Thoroughly grease your Bundt cake pan and pour in the batter, spreading to fill the pan evenly. Top evenly with chunks of crumble, creating a top layer.


8. Bake for 25 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Mine took closer to 45 minutes to fully bake, yours might go faster depending on your oven. When it’s done, the center of the cake should no longer jiggle.


9. While cake bakes, make icing: melt butter in a small pan over medium-high heat, letting it get bubbly/frothy. Continue to cook butter, stirring often, until it browns: first you’ll see white specks appear under a bubbly surface, and they’ll gradually turn brown, lending the melted butter an amber hue and irresistible nutty aroma.


Once this happens, remove from heat and stir in the rum. Whisk with powdered sugar in a large bowl until smooth, adding water or more rum if necessary to reach desired consistency.


10. When cake is finished, let cool in pan for a bit, then carefully remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Drizzle liberally with icing. Dig in at your own risk.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Eggnog Cupcakes with Spiced Rum Frosting 

Spiced Eggnog Cookies 

Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls 

Eggnog Truffles

apple cinnamon granola

As fall and its associated semester winds slowly to an end, I’ve been thinking a little bit about the cold, uncaring world into which I will be ejected, from the warm and familiar embrace of college, in just over four months. A world where the government can just decide to shut down for a couple weeks. A cruel, selfish and absurd world where there is a reality show called “Shahs of Sunset.” And, perhaps worst of all, a world where fall reaches its apex and then one day you wake up and everything is cold, gray and barren and then it GETS DARK 2 hours later.

What is one to do?

Make granola. Of course.

Rebel against the unfairness of it all by filling your apartment with the aroma of toasted oats and cozy cinnamon apples, baked to warm golden glory and then cooled to crunchy perfection, served with its simple counterpart of almond milk in a blue bowl. There are things in the world that are simply, truly good, and one of those things is granola. One must be reminded of this from time to time. 

And you know, if you’re in the midst of a quarterlife crisis like me, maybe you, too can take some comfort in the life lessons one can glean from granola. Granola says: yo, relax. Just throw together a bunch of whatever you’ve got, whatever suits your fancy—mix it up, stick it in the oven, wait it out and hope that it comes out awesome. It typically does.

Is that comforting? I don’t know. Maybe not. But when worse comes to worst, the satisfying crunch of good granola is loud enough to drown out the loudest of worldly worries.

apple cinnamon granola

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup walnuts (or nuts of choice), chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped apples (I used Granny Smith)

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. 

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pepitas, and nuts. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until lightly golden browned.

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Mix together toasted oat mixture with warm applesauce mixture in the same large bowl. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and apples.
5. Spread mixture evenly on large baking sheet and bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes to avoid burning, until the granola is golden brown.
6. Let cool (or eat it straight from the oven) and enjoy plain or in a bowl with refreshing almond milk.

If you liked this, you might also like:

hearty autumn veggie soup with sweet potato, kale, & lentils

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I think we can all agree that soup, and its associated days of quiet, soupy devotion, is a pretty delicious and wonderful thing. Especially right in the middle of October when the dreary days still retain most of their charm. We don’t need to elaborate. But I must ask you a very important question. When is the last time you had a soup that you literally could not stop eating? Let’s up the stakes—how about a vegetable-laden, clear broth-based, dare I say vegan soup that triggered an impulsive soup-slurping frenzy?

This is that soup, friends. The one that changed the whole soup game for me, and entirely unexpectedly. That’s part of the understated thrill of soup-making: you throw a bunch of whatever into a pot, stir it up, heat it up, and sit through the next 30 minutes gripped by a sense of both anticipation and anxiety—the flavors could collide disastrously, they could beg for an ever-elusive something more, or they could merge melodiously into an elixir of flavor and texture that transcends the sum of its parts. And in the latter case, you get to curl up in the romantic, soupy way we all imagine (the requisite rain drizzling outside your window, the open book before you, ignored in favor of the soup’s infinitely more interesting flavor…) and feel not only comforted in just the way a fall day calls for, but warmly proud of your feat. After all, soup is an imprecise art, and only some can claim the intuitive powers to master it.
Hey man, I have always been the first person to forgo the soup aisle completely, to treat the dish as a gastronomic second-hand citizen. But the stuff is magical. Or at least, this one is.

First of all, your apartment will fill with the best, coziest smells: sweet potatoes, lentils, carrots, coriander, fennel, parsley, thyme. Mmmm.
Secondly, the addition of cornstarch, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast make for subtle complexities in both the texture (not too thick, definitely not runny) and flavor (some might say “umami”).
Thirdly, it’s super easy and probably infinitely customizable. Sub regular potatoes for sweet, chickpeas for lentils, white onion for red—go for it, exercise your culinary creativity.
Finally, this is a soup you can feel good about. It’s totally vegan and incredibly nutritive, not to mention low on the calorie front. Nourish your bod, nourish your soul, y’all. 
I’d like to finish this poetic discourse on the virtues of soup by emphasizing again the fact that I literally could not stop eating this soup. It is just that good. I am not a soup person and I devoured more than half of this entire yield in about 30 minutes. It is incredible—and not just by vegan standards!—and is sure to become a fall/winter staple.
hearty autumn soup with sweet potato, kale, & lentils
adapted from
serves 4 (or 1, if you’re me)
1 quart/1 package vegetable broth of choice 
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon fennel
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons thyme
7 baby carrots, diced 
1 sweet potato, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil  
1/2 cup cooked lentils 
1-2 cups baby kale leaves
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce 
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1. Preheat oven to 375. In a large pot, warm broth, garlic, and spices over medium heat while you dice all of your veggies. Toss diced sweet potato with 1 teaspoon olive oil, spread evenly on a baking sheet, and roast for about 5 minutes while you finish prepping the veggies.
2. Remove sweet potatoes and add to the broth along with all other veggies, lentils, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, lower heat, cover, and let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and falling apart.
3. Taste after 25 minutes and adjust seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in cornstarch mixture and nutritional yeast, and allow to simmer for 2 more minutes. 
4. Taste again, making adjustments as needed. Stir in lemon juice and remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Serve hot and enjoy!

kale, edamame & avocado salad with sriracha lime dressing

Every season, the calendar and the weather have this conspiracy to totally ambush us. Maybe you’ve picked up on this, those distinctly autumnal dashes snuck in to days that teeter on that uncomfortable edge between surefire sweater weather and late summer barbecue climate. It all works out so that suddenly, in the blur of settling back into campus and classes starting, you realize it’s September 25th and you’re plotting pumpkin patch visits but you’re still in shorts and a tee shirt at 5pm, desperately trying to soak up the last of the summer sun with the rest of the world.

It’s a confusing time all around—especially when it comes to matters of the appetite. Let’s be honest, any forecast high above 60 is simply too warm to properly enjoy a pumpkin spice latte or anything involving butternut squash. So what, exactly, is one to consume?

Salads aren’t really what you envision when you think of rebellion, but this one stands for exactly that—it’s a way to say no to the end of summer but also welcome in fall, however reluctantly. It’s green, spicy, and vibrant as any summer staple, but the kale, with it’s denseness and darker tone, makes for a sturdy and earthy base that’s definitively fall. Fall food is all about heartiness and fortification, and this salad has it in spades, from kale’s fibrous, filling crunch to the springy protein of edamame and the rich, healthy fats of the avocado. But it all combines in a way that won’t leave you too leaden to pack in those last-minute summery activities on these lingering temperate evenings—root veggies and pumpkin pie aren’t quite ideal for that. Until then, crunch on this salad and savor the final days during which it doesn’t feel wrong not to ingest something on the decadent side.

Make life easy on yourself and go the route of prepackaged kale leaves, and especially look out for prepackaged, ready-to-eat edamame—I found this brand and loved it, but there are surely many others.

The avocado softens the kale’s crunchy edges, making this a less intimidating dish for those who aren’t so sure about raw kale’s textural appeal—it’s a delicious way to introduce yourself to this superfood in its raw form. To cube your avocado, I recommend this method: poke a sharp knife into the top of the avocado, pressing in until you hit the pit.

From there, slowly rotate the knife downward to the bottom of the fruit and then back up in a circle to meet your starting point on top. You will then be able to twist both halves apart and scoop out the pit using the knife, a spoon, your hands, or some combination of these implements.

Then, slice the flesh of each half in a grid pattern, making sure to slice all the way down to the skin (without breaking through it).  

I won’t address my obvious fixation with Sriracha; it clearly goes without saying. This dressing is so simple and would be delicious on a multitude of dishes. Have a glass of water or almond milk at the ready—it’s spicy.

kale, edamame & avocado salad with sriracha lime dressing
serves 2

2 cups baby kale leaves
1 cup edamame, shelled and cooked
1 Hass avocado, pitted and cubed
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha
Juice of one lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Throw kale leaves in a large bowl and top with the edamame.
2. Squeeze the avocado cubes out from the skin and into the kale-edamame mix in the bowl.

3. Chop your onion and add it in.

4. To make dressing, mix olive oil, Sriracha, lime juice, garlic cloves, and salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside for a few minutes to let the flavors combine. Taste and adjust if necessary.

5. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss it all together with wooden spoons or tongs. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Enjoy!

sriracha veggie burger

I did not enter a bar called Pianos in the Lower East Side on a Tuesday night in July after work expecting to eat perhaps the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.

I also did not expect to spend the second half of summer (or really any period of time at all in my life) adhering to a vegan diet—and yet here I am. I’m trying to frame it as a most likely temporary foray into an exciting new culinary niche, one of many experiments a true food zealot should ensure he or she experiences.

Really, it’s more to do with another unexpected (but not really) development. The kind that involves tight pants, and a growing scale phobia. An unpretty but not unusual development that I’ve decided to address with this dietary detox of sorts.

The vegan, gluten-free recipes that will be appearing indefinitely on Magpie in the future are part of this blog’s haphazard (but endlessly exciting!) evolution. The fact that they join the company of recipes for absurd indulgences like nutella swirl brookies is exactly what makes this truly a magpie collection of delights. And trust me—they are delightful. I wouldn’t share them otherwise.

But back to that veggie burger.

This burger was consumed on the upper floor of what was to become a favorite bar in the city this summer. Pianos has live music nightly, at least 2 different bands playing at any given time during the night. It is a pleasantly dim, deceptively large, eclectic shack sort of place, with an Australian bartender.

But this was before I was aware all of that—I was too blinded by post-work hunger. This burger came upon me at the first blossom of my sriracha obsession (I’ll spare you the details; I know I’m very late to the game with this one). I wanted something that went well with this condiment, and I was very hungry after a thankless 8 hours sitting at a desk typing things. I think I’d seen it mentioned positively on Yelp. I was sold—the Vegetarian Burger it was.

How good can one expect a veggie burger to be? The things are so sorrily represented. We’re accustomed to receiving decently bland, uniformly flat microwaved patties in any given scenario. Veggie burgers—and therefore, vegetarian folk—are still not treated with the respect that beef burgers and omnivores enjoy. And if you ask me, this inequality is an outrage. A downright insult. Action must be taken!

I next discovered that Pianos is on the forefront of the war on veggie burger discrimination. It almost seemed to transcend the category altogether, standing alone as a sublime and unique dish—but the veggie burger category needs this burger, to serve as its shining paragon of taste. Clearly this patty was treated with respect bordering on the pious: a perfectly pliable English muffin sandwiched the dense patty of black beans and mushrooms, topped with sauteed greens with garlic and onions, white mushrooms, and pesto, along with a lightly fried eggplant slice for good measure. Towering yet steadily stacked and delicious with sriracha—and vegan. Even the side salad was exemplary. It all could only be described as world-endingly good.

The rest of the night was almost as fulfilling as that initial burger—but not quite. Afterward, I had to relive the glory by recreating the masterpiece, albeit in an altered and slightly less decadent form. The project was one of my first attempts to convince myself that the vegan world could be filled with just as many gustatory delights as the omnivorous or vegetarian one, and I think I proved myself right. This is healthy decadence, with a multigrain flax English muffin bun (which tastes suspiciously like neither of these things, happily), sautéed arugula and garlic, sautéed eggplant, and creamy avocado. As for the burger, I just went ahead and incorporated the sriracha directly into the patties. Because when an obsession reaches such an extreme, one must find a way to hide it.

sriracha veggie burger 
inspired by Pianos
gluten-free; vegan

1 3/4 cups cooked black beans, or 1 (15-ounce) can, rinsed, drained, and dried
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds (flaxmeal)
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs
4 English muffins (or buns of choice—also good without. I used flax/multi-seed ones)
1 cup fresh arugula, spinach, or kale
1/4 eggplant, sliced
1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted and sliced just before serving

1. In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseeds and water and let sit until a gel forms—this will be the fake egg that keeps your patties together.
2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup of diced onions and all the mushrooms, and sauté until onions are soft and mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Combine beans, flaxseed gel, onions, mushrooms, cilantro, 3 cloves of garlic, pepper, Sriracha, tamari, and bread crumbs in a bread crumb or by smashing together in a large bowl with your hands or a potato masher. Form mixture into patties using your hands, adding more breadcrumbs if necessary to help mixture hold together.
4. On a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, cook patties until browned evenly on both sides, or around 5 minutes per side.
5. In another oiled skillet over medium heat, sauté eggplant slices until soft—around 5 minutes per side, give or take. Meanwhile, sauté arugula with remaining 3 cloves of garlic and onion in the same skillet, setting aside once soft  Set aside.
6. Toast English muffins or whichever bun you’re using. Top with cooked burgers, a bit of sautéed greens, sautéed eggplant slice, and some avocado slices. Drizzle with more sriracha sauce if desired, or with any condiment of your choice.


the semi-Elvis cake


Bear with me here. Yes, I’m perfectly aware that Elvis’ favored flavor combo was peanut butter, banana and bacon. This is common knowledge. This is a famous factoid. This cake possesses only one of the aforementioned ingredients, you object. How dare you use Elvis’ name in vain?

You know what, I will be the first to admit that this name actually makes no sense for this cake, but the actual title would be much too long and I can’t think of anything better, so I’m sticking with it. I always get Elvis’ favorite sandwich mixed up. In my mind it’s just kind of a combination of sweet and salty flavors, and that’s all that matters. I think banana plus salty and I associate it with Elvis, hence the title.  It doesn’t make sense but the great thing about cake is that nothing has to make sense!

This cake glorifies the most important component — banana — and replaces the other two with decadent caramel buttercream, studs of chocolate and an unexpected pretzel crust. It’s a cake lover’s cake, it’s the King of cakes in the same way Elvis reigned over rock ‘n roll. This is a (certain type of) rock star in food form.

And it’s so insanely rich, one bite might lead you to an early grave like Elvis. Eat a few slices and you’ll really be a Big Hunk o’ Love. Have I proved the validity of the name yet? No? Then That’s All Right, just bake this and eat it; add some bacon if you’re really in Heartbreak Hotel over its absence. I guarantee it doesn’t matter what you call it, this cake will have you All Shook Up. (Sorry. Bye.)

the semi-Elvis cake

cake:2 1/2 cups crushed salted pretzels
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

salted caramel buttercream:
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Crush pretzels by stomping on them in a Ziplock bag, or in a food processor. Combine in a large bowl with melted butter until completely moistened. Line two greased 9″ cake pans with pretzel mixture and bake for about 10 minutes, until set.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.

4) Beat egg in the bowl of an electric mixer, then beat in brown sugar until smooth.

Stir in vanilla extract, then mix in melted butter. Stir in dry ingredients, then add mashed bananas and mix until combined. Finally, stir in chocolate chips.

5) Pour batter evenly atop pretzel crusts. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6) Meanwhile, make caramel buttercream by bringing sugar and water to a boil in a medium pot, scraping sides with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Let cook until caramel is dark amber.

7) Remove from heat and slowly add cream and vanilla, stirring with wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool completely, about 25 minutes.

8) Beat butter in electric mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, mixing until combined. Turn of mixer and slowly add caramel. Mix on low speed, then return speed to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if necessary to thicken the frosting.

9) When cakes are completely cool, transfer first layer to a large plate and frost the top with caramel buttercream. Place second layer on top, making sure to form a secure seal with the frosting, and frost the rest of the cake.

10) Add a drizzle of melted chocolate atop the cake if desired, brace yourself, and enjoy!

strawberry cupcakes with goat cheese frosting and balsamic glaze

For unknown reasons, I powered through an entire industrial-sized bottle of balsamic vinegar in about a week. I have been dousing everything in the stuff — clearly, even strange things, like cupcakes. I couldn’t explain to you what sent me into the frenzy. All I know is that suddenly, things felt incomplete without the balsamic tang-factor. And it’s just so fun to watch it boil and thicken into a sweet reduction as your entire apartment fills with the overwhelming scent of vinegar and you have to open all the doors and windows to keep from suffocating. Makes me feel like I’m in Potions class or like I can actually do chemistry. My kind of party!

Strawberries and balsamic and goat cheese is the flavor combo that got stuck in my head. It’s strawberry season and nothing complements their tangy-sweetness like similarly tangy-sweet balsamic vinegar. Especially when you roast the former and reduce the latter, that’s when the real magic starts. And we’re all familiar with my goat cheese fixation, so of course I had to throw it into the equation to balance the sweetness with a refreshing creaminess.

If you want to get in on this action, this is the way to do it. This flavor trifecta could translate to any number of other recipe combinations, such as a spritely salad or a fresh pile atop multigrain toast or another healthy, light, tossed-together sort of situation. But who honestly likes that? Honestly. Especially when it can also, just as easily, translate into cupcake form?

Goat cheese and balsamic? In a cupcake? I can sense the suppressed gag reflex of some select readers. But I want to prove you wrong. First of all, the balsamic looks like chocolate, and while that’s misleading…it’s really just as sweet. Secondly, the frosting is an insanely rich and delicious combo of goat and cream cheese, so nothing too savory here. And lastly, nothing beats roasted strawberries at peak season, in any form. Put them in a cupcake? Everything is right with the world.

strawberry cupcakes with goat cheese frosting and balsamic glaze

2 pounds strawberries, hulled
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup half and half or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg + 2 egg whites
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice hulled strawberries into quarters, toss with honey and olive oil, and spread evenly on a tin-foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until evenly roasted. This brings out the sweetness. Yum.
2) Puree roasted strawberries in a food processor. In a medium bowl, mix 1/3 cup strawberry puree with half and half and vanilla. 
3) In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. 
4) In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and slowly add in the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and whites, continuing to beat the mixture until well-combined, light and fluffy.
5) Turn the mixer on slow, and gradually fold in half the flour mixture, followed by the strawberry puree mixture, and then finally by the rest of the flour mixture until well-combined.
6) Scoop batter into a cupcake pan lined with tins and sprayed with nonstick baking spray, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
7) Bake at 350°F for about 22-25 minutes, or until cupcakes are dry to the touch. Remove and let cool. Meanwhile, make frosting:
8 oz of goat cheese, room temp.
8 oz cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons of strawberry puree
1) Cream together goat- and cream cheese in bowl of an electric mixer.

Add the confectioners sugar, salt, lemon juice and strawberry puree, mixing until smooth. Add more sugar if frosting is too thin or runny.

Fill a pastry bag or Ziplock bag with a small corner clipped open with frosting, and frost cupcakes once cooled.

Drizzle frosted cupcakes with some balsamic glaze………

balsamic glaze: 
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons strawberry puree, divided
1) Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a large saucepan. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 35-40 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half.

Mix in 2 tablespoons of puree, and the brown sugar. Let cook until syrup-y. 

At the end, mix in remaining 2 tablespoons of puree to ensure vibrant strawberry flavor. 

Use a spoon or fork to drizzle/fling (Jackson Pollack-style) balsamic glaze atop frosted cupcakes.

salted caramel pecan pie

I feel kind of bad for pi. Maybe it’s just because I’m the furthest you could possibly get from a numbers person, but I’m pretty sure that no one really appreciates Pi Day solely for the mathematical concept it was created to honor. I’m pretty sure that even on its very own Day, pi is completely overlooked in favor of pie. What is poor helpless pi to do in the face of everyone’s favorite baked good? Leave it to mankind to corrupt a day that’s supposed to honor a beautiful numerical mystery by turning it into an excuse to gorge on pie.

 Or maybe that’s just me?

I know that for thousands of hyper-intelligent high-school seniors who possess the mental abilities to generate the scientific ideas that will shape the future of humanity, today means discovering whether or not they got into MIT. For me, today means baking pie at 1am, eating a slice at 3am, going to bed a 4am, waking up the next day at noon and kicking the day off with pie for breakfast. Because this kind of behavior is completely and utterly acceptable because it is Pie Day and no one will convince me otherwise and no I am not ashamed, thank you very much (I am ashamed).

Anyway, regardless of the occasion, whenever circumstances call for pie, I highly recommend you make this. Pecan pie is the ruler of the pie kingdom in my opinion, and with the addition of salted caramel, this is an incredibly easy and delicious spin on your average pecan pie recipe. You seriously won’t be able to stop thinking about it. It is indulgent, salty-sweet, and hey nuts are good for you, so I say go wild.

My calculation abilities might be limited to measuring cups and teaspoons, but if it adds up to this next-level pie, I’m okay with that. Because the extreme extent of its deliciousness is way more mind-blowing than pi. 

salted caramel pecan pie

Pre-made pie crust (or homemade for overachievers)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon water
1 stick butter
1/2 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon salt (start by adding 1/8 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or bourbon or Kahlua!)
2 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped


1) Preheat oven to 400°F and spread pie crust evenly in pan, crimping the edges. Butter a piece of tin-foil big enough to cover the flat part of the crust, and place butter side down on flat part of crust with the edges slightly upturned. Fill with beans, rice or pie weights to keep the crust flat while it bakes.

2) Brush crust with lightly beaten egg, then bake for 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove foil and beans/weights, and bake for an additional 2—4 minutes or until evenly golden brown.

3) Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until moist and slightly thickened.

4) Stir in butter, cream, and vanilla until combined. Start by adding in 1/8 teaspoon of salt, then gradually add more to taste.

5) Mix in pecans and let sit over medium-low heat until crust is done.

6) Remove crust from oven and let cool, then pour in pecan filling.

7) Freeze or refrigerate pie (depending on the urgency of consumption) until filling is set, then serve. Sprinkle with additional sea salt on top if desired.