Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Apple Cider Coffee CakeIt’s no secret that I don’t like Halloween. I’m ambivalent about wearing costumes and if I’m going to eat candy, I’d like for it to be full-sized.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeThat’s not to say I haven’t participated in the festivities as an adult. Just last year, my friend, VJ, showed up at my apartment with a panda costume. She was dressed as a unicorn. On our way to a party, we somehow got on the one car of the R train where literally nobody else was in costume. “So a panda and a unicorn get on the subway…”

Halloween
We went outside like this.
Long story short, I’m skipping the Halloween treats this year. If you aren’t, I recommend these, these, and these (please forgive the terrible photos on that last link).

Apple Cider Coffee CakeInstead, I’m putting my energy toward dreaming up and making excellent “company” breakfasts, i.e. the sort of dessert-masquerading-as-breakfast that is socially accepted when you have a house full of guests in November and December. Cinnamon rolls are a common choice for such occasions, but I recommend you save those for another day and make this Apple Cider Coffee Cake instead. It’s faster, doesn’t involve fiddling with yeast, and has two layers of that crunchy crumb that everyone loves.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeThe base of this coffee cake is basically a souped up muffin batter. I started with my Orange Pecan Muffin recipe and then made a few changes. I swapped the oil for butter, the yogurt for sour cream, and the milk for an apple cider reduction. Oh, and I threw in some pie spices and chunks of tart apple. Flavor all over the place, y’all.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLet’s talk about that apple cider reduction. It’s an easy way to get big flavor! This is the base of flavor in this recipe, so make sure to use quality apple cider–the refrigerated stuff, not the shelf-stable variety. Pour two cups of it into a saucepan, bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat, and let it go. This will take 20-30 minutes; I recommend checking the amount every ten minutes. Once it’s at 2/3 cup, let it cool to room temperature so it doesn’t melt your butter or scramble the egg. This is a very hands-off task, but if it seems like a little too much, you can do this step a day in advance and then refrigerate the reduction until you’re ready to use it.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeApple Cider Coffee CakeEnough about batter though. Coffee cake crumb topping is where it’s at! It’s crispy, crunchy cinnamon-brown sugar magic–the perfect foil for that rich, appley cake. The crumb recipe I use here is the same one from my Cranberry Crumb Pie. It comes together super quickly and easily and…well, I’m totally crazy about it.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeTo assemble the cake, butter a springform pan and line it with parchment. If you don’t have a springform, you may bake this cake in a deep (!) 9-inch cake pan. Dividing it into two loaf pans may work too, but I haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do!

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLayer the ingredients into the pan, starting with half the batter. Top it with half of the crumb. Then more batter, then more crumb. Bake it for nearly an hour, until the top is nice and golden.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLet the cake cool completely in the pan before releasing the springform and dusting it with confectioner’s sugar.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeInvite a friend or two over, put on a pot of coffee, and slice up the cake!

Apple Cider Coffee CakeYou are going to love the combination of rich, buttery apple cider cake and the almost meltingly-soft chunks of apple, not to mention the craggy crumb 😍 I’ve made two of these this week and I know there will be many more before 2017 is over.

Can’t. Get. Enough.Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Apple Cider Coffee Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

Batter:
2 cups apple cider
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large tart baking apple, peeled &1/2-inch diced (I used Granny Smith)

Crumb:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Garnish:
1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Pour apple cider into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, until reduced to 2/3 cup. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make the crumb. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in vanilla. Add butter. Use your hands (or a pastry blender) to work butter into dry ingredients until a clumpy but homogenous mixture forms. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Line with parchment. Grease parchment with butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg and sour cream; mixture may be a bit lumpy. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in apple pieces.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Top with half the crumb. Pour in the remaining batter and sprinkle with the last of the crumb. Place full pan on a baking sheet and bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. If you’d like, invert the cake and remove the parchment before placing on a serving platter. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve.

Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}

If there were ever a time for comfort food, it’s today.

StellaOur family dog, Stella Rose, died Monday evening, just one day after her thirteenth birthday. My sisters and I were informed of her passing last night, and while I had already written half a post about these enchiladas, suddenly another rant about the lack of quality Mexican food in New York City seems so…trivial.

StellaBut! This is a food blog, so I am going to talk about enchiladas anyway.

StellaBefore I do though, let me say that I loved this happy little dog with all my heart and that I am so glad she was part of our family. Dinners at home in Fort Worth won’t be the same without the jingle of her collar as she wanders under the table looking for scraps and scratches between the ears. She was a mess–but a sweet mess–and she will be missed by many.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}So today, let’s eat comfort food. For me, that’s usually something Tex-Mex or Mexican-inspired. On this terribly difficult day, these Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde} totally fit the bill.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}This recipe is my at-home take on my favorite dish from Alma, a wonderful Mexican restaurant on the western edge of Brooklyn. In fact, it may be the only Mexican restaurant in New York City that I would actually call wonderful. Alma’s menu doesn’t really cross over into Tex-Mex territory, but that doesn’t matter when there are blow-your-mind-fantastic vegan enchiladas to be had.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}While I’m not usually interested in enchiladas that don’t involve copious amounts of melted cheese, I make an exception for these. With all the meaty (and meatless!) goodness from the 2+ pounds of mushrooms, the tender corn tortillas, and the earthy, spicy pumpkin seed mole,* there certainly isn’t any lack of flavor. And since I am currently trying to improve my eating habits, these are a great way to get a few extra nutrients into my diet.

*Note: Mole (pronounce moh-leh) is a name for a variety of Mexican sauces made from chili peppers, fruits, nuts, and/or seeds. Mole made from pumpkin seeds (pepitas) is called pipián.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}As with most from-scratch enchilada recipes, Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde} are an undertaking. Start-to-finish, it takes me just over two hours to make a batch. This process can be shortened by preparing the mushrooms a day ahead, but I don’t recommend making the pumpkin seed mole in advance. Don’t let that deter you–it really doesn’t take much time to make the sauce.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Just roast a bunch of jalapeños, a poblano, half an onion, some garlic, and some pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)…

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}then blitz it all with some cilantro, spices, and vegetable stock…

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}pour it all over the mushroom enchiladas and bake for twenty minutes or so.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}If you really can’t imagine enchiladas without cheese, you may sprinkle some queso fresco over the top. I, however, prefer to garnish these with more toasted pepitas. I like the extra crunch. And I think they’re pretty.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}I have made these enchiladas twice in the last two weeks and I’m still thinking about them. This is comfort food that nourishes my body and soothes my soul–on a day like today, I can’t ask for anything more.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}Rest in peace, sweet little old lady dog.Stella

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}
makes about 12 enchiladas, 4-6 servings

Mushroom Filling:
36 ounces mushrooms (I used white button, cremini, and shiitake)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder (or any other chile or chili powder)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 Kosher or sea salt

Pumpkin Seed Sauce/Pipián Verde:
4 jalapeño or serrano peppers, stems removed
1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed
1/2 large white onion, peeled and sliced in half
5 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/3 cups raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock, divided

For Assembly:
vegetable or canola oil
12-14 corn tortillas
2-3 tablespoons pepitas, toasted

Clean and thinly slice mushrooms. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Working in batches, brown the mushrooms. Season with cumin, chile powder, cayenne, and salt before removing from heat. Set aside.

Make the sauce. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Make the sauce. Slice jalapeños and poblano in half lengthwise. Slice 1/2 white onion into two pieces. Place peppers and onion, along with unpeeled garlic cloves, on prepared pan. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast 20-25 minutes.

Place pepitas on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Roast 5 minutes, until fragrant. They may make a faint popping/squeaking sound as they cook.

Transfer pepitas and vegetables to a high-powered blender. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, cilantro, dried oregano, cumin, optional cayenne, salt, and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Blend until thick and velvety. Add remaining stock and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Assemble the enchiladas. Pour 1/2-inch of vegetable or canola oil into a heavy-bottomed skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Use tongs to briefly fry each tortilla for five seconds per side before setting aside on a plate.

Grease a 9×13-inch casserole or baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the pan. Working with one tortilla at a time, top with 2-3 tablespoons of mushrooms, roll tightly, and place seam-side-down in prepared pan. Repeat process until all mushrooms have been used. Top with sauce and cover the pan with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden at the edges. Scatter more toasted pepitas over the top. Let cool ten minutes before serving.

Enchiladas are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seed Mole {Pipián Verde}

Butterscotch Cream Pie {Two Year Anniversary!}

Butterscotch Cream PieThis blog is going to turn two this weekend. Two!

When I posted my first recipe in October of 2015, I didn’t know if I’d make it two months as a blogger, let alone two years!

Butterscotch Cream PieFor those keeping count, that’s 220 recipes, 230 total posts, and about 2,147 cans of LaCroix 😊

Thank you for reading my posts, following me on social media, sharing my work, and most importantly, making my recipes! Your support makes running this little site more fun than work–I can’t wait to see what we bake up in year three 💗 But before we get to that, let’s finish out this second year with Butterscotch Cream Pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieSomething happens around this time every year where I totally lose my ability to think about anything but pie. It’s fall in New York City, y’all–the light is golden, the leaves are turning, it’s…77 degrees.

Butterscotch Cream PieI’ve got plenty of traditional pastry crust pies coming your way next month (because Thanksgiving!), but on what is probably, hopefully one of the last warmish days we’ll have for a while (please, please, please let it be so), I’m sharing a pie that is nearly-no-bake, bursting with caramelized brown sugar flavor, and best served ice cold.

Butterscotch. Cream. Pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieLet’s talk pie crust. I love a traditional graham cracker crust. I’m just crazy about the crumbly texture, the honey graham flavor, and the butter–it’s a combination that simply can’t be beat…

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream Pie…unless you cut it with jagged pieces of saltine cracker. And then mix that combination with dark brown sugar and melted butter. And press it into a pie plate. And bake it ‘til it gets a little toasty. This is definitely one for the sweet & salty obsessed 🙋

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieIt gets better. We’re going to fill that crust with homemade butterscotch pudding! I took the liberty of testing eight different iterations of butterscotch pudding, and this version is everything I hoped for and more. It’s smooth and creamy and straightforward and you don’t need a candy thermometer to make it. Oh, and it tastes like butterscotch and not just brown sugar…which wouldn’t be anything to complain about, but that’s not what we’re going for today.

Butterscotch Cream PieMaking butterscotch pudding is super simple, but it’s a little different from the pudding fillings you’ll find in my Chocolate and Coconut Cream Pies. One thing it definitely has in common with them? It cannot be left alone. Do not step away. Do not stop whisking. Make sure all your ingredients are prepared and within arm’s reach because once you start making pudding, you’re in it for the long haul. Or like fifteen minutes.

My butterscotch pudding starts with bringing dark brown sugar, light corn syrup (not the same as high fructose corn syrup!), water, and lemon juice to a bubble. This melts the sugar, keeping the finished pudding from being grainy, and gives us that caramelized brown sugar flavor that makes butterscotch so dang good.

Butterscotch Cream PieLet it boil for a minute, whisking constantly all the time, before turning the heat to low and adding some cornstarch and a teaspoon of salt. Then slowly and carefully whisk in three cups of whole milk. This will cause the molten sugar to bubble up somewhat dramatically, but don’t panic! Just keep whisking. Just keep whisking.

From there, the pudding is pretty straightforward. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, whisk half of it into some beaten egg yolks, bring that to a boil, and then remove everything from the heat and stir in some butter and vanilla. For whatever reason, this pudding is more prone to lumps that any others I’ve made. I highly recommend passing it through a sieve (or a clean wire mesh colander) before pouring the filling into the pie crust.

Butterscotch Cream PieOh my.

Press plastic wrap to the top of the pudding and then chill the pie for a few hours. You want it super cold. Remove the plastic wrap, whip some cream, and spread it all over the surface of the pie.

Butterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieButterscotch Cream PieMmhmm.

Butterscotch Cream PieY’all, it doesn’t get much better than this. Butterscotch Cream Pie is cold, creamy, sweet, full of buttery, dark brown sugary butterscotch flavor, and has a salty punch from that graham and saltine crust. Aside from a dog, a good man, and a job where I can wear stretchy pants everyday, it’s basically everything I want in life.

Butterscotch Cream PieHappy Friday, y’all. Happy two years, E2 Bakes.

Butterscotch Cream PieLooking for more butterscotch? Or more pie? Try my Salted Butterscotch Pie–it’s the best of both worlds.

Butterscotch Cream Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie

Crust:
3 ounces saltine crackers (about 30 crackers/most of a sleeve)
5 full sheets honey graham crackers
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Butterscotch Filling:
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

Place saltines and graham crackers in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Close the bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into small pieces. Pour saltine/graham cracker mix to a medium mixing bowl and stir in dark brown sugar. Add melted butter and fold to coat. Press mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Use a measuring cup to help pack the mixture down. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Combine dark brown sugar, light corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring to a bubble over medium-high heat. Let boil one minute before turning heat to low. Do not burn. Whisk in cornstarch and salt. Stir in milk–mixture may boil up violently, but just keep whisking. Return heat to medium-high and continue whisking until mixture thickens and boils for one minute. Remove from heat.

Temper the egg yolks. Whisking the yolks constantly, slowly pour in half of the molten mixture until completely combined. Add egg yolk mixture to the pot and turn heat back up to medium-high. Continue to whisk until mixture boils for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and vanilla. Mixture should coat the back of a spoon.

Push filling through a sieve to remove any lumps. Pour filling into prepared crust. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and chill for at least six hours or overnight.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream.

Serve immediately. Leftover pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Butterscotch Cream Pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Before I get to the recipe, I just want to say thank you for the overwhelming response to On Self-Care & Food Blogging. I’m so fortunate to have such thoughtful and supportive readers.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}While reorganizing my Recipe Index last week, I was astonished at the lack of vegan pumpkin recipes in my repertoire. Besides being a delicious vehicle for warm autumnal spices, pumpkin is an excellent egg replacer–something about the water content and fibrous innards, I suppose. All I know is that if you use 1/4 cup of the stuff in place of each large egg in a cookie recipe (and add a little pumpkin pie spice), you’ll likely escape the cakey cookie problem that plagues so many home bakers this time of year. And if you substitute melted coconut oil for the usual butter…well, you might suddenly have a lot of vegan friends asking about Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Not that I’d know anything about that 😊

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan} come together easily–no need for a mixer. Just whisk together some melted coconut oil, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla, before folding in a mixture of flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}At this point, you could add anything you like to the dough–dried fruit, nuts, candy, you name it. I’m usually all for that sort of thing, but sometimes simple is best. Pumpkin and chocolate are wonderful together; I made that pairing into some killer blondies a couple of weeks ago and I’m bringing back again today. I mean, why mess with perfection? Vegans like pumpkin and chocolate too.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling it into balls and baking at 350F for about ten minutes. They won’t spread much, remaining tall and puffy after they come out of the oven. Let them cool on a rack for a few minutes before enjoying.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}I am crazy about these cookies, y’all. They have chewy edges and soft centers, and the chocolate somehow stays a little melty long after it has reached room temperature. For those of you concerned about these cookies having a coconut flavor from the coconut oil, know that it’s very mild, especially if you use the refined stuff. As with most pumpkin baked goods, the autumnal flavor of these cookies intensifies the day after they’re made, easily masking any tropical undertones and making this a quality make-ahead recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}A pumpkin recipe that’s packed with chocolate, vegan, and is best if made ahead?! I’d be running to the kitchen right now if I were you.Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}
makes about 22 medium cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup coconut oil, melted (use refined for a milder flavor)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together coconut oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold dry ingredients into wet. Fold in chopped dark chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in two tablespoon increments. Roll into balls and place them at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 5 minutes before rotating the pans top to bottom and baking an additional 4-5 minutes. Let cookies cool on pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Pumpkin flavor will intensify as the days go on.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

On Self-Care & Food Blogging

Disclaimer: I sat down to write a Friday Favorites post and this is what came out. If posts about mental health and self-care aren’t for you, don’t fret–I’ve got some new recipes coming your way next week. Oh, and you should make these this weekend.

When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I decided to post three times a week. It was a lot of work for someone who had no experience with this sort of thing, but I figured that if I was going to have a blog, I was going to take it seriously. With limited exception, I posted three times a week for the first fourteen months of this blog’s existence. 

That all changed last Christmas. I think I got burnt out from all my extra holiday work and then totally thrown off by an extended visit with my family in Texas. To put it simply, I got out of my regular routine and I’ve never quite gotten back into it.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Breakfast time on Swans Island.
Since returning to Brooklyn in January, I’ve had a few weeks where I’ve managed to get three posts up, but those have been few and far between. This summer, I somewhat intentionally put E2 Bakes on the back burner and only posted once a week. I had a lot going on–besides work, I quit smoking (three months off nicotine this week 🙌🏻). I also muddled through the end of a truly gnarly 18-month bout of depression. Maybe that’s too personal for a food blog, but it’s what happened. When my brain fog finally (finally) started to clear in the middle of August, I made some changes in the name of self-care.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
View from the Red Hook Waterfront.
First, I switched grocery stores. Bet you weren’t expecting that. That may sound minor and totally out of left field, but if you’ve been around here long enough, you know that I think grocery shopping is a blast. Since I returned from Maine, I’ve made time every weekend to take the fifty minute walk down to Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a good way for me to clear my head (especially once I get to the benches near the waterfront), and I can’t help but be inspired by the quantity and quality of goods at that market. I still buy my coffee beans at Sahadi’s and hop over to Trader Joe’s and Key Food for things here and there, but I do the vast majority of my shopping at Fairway. With so many great options in my neighborhood, my new ritual might seem ridiculous to some, but I shop so frequently for others that this simple act of shopping just for me and at my favorite grocery store qualifies as radical self-care. Oh, and for those of you wondering, I take the bus home. <–I’m asked about this all the time.

In conjunction with my new grocery shopping ritual, I’ve also started taking better physical care of myself. I’ve written before about my weight and how I try to practice something like mindful eating. I’d love to tell you that I have a perfect, balanced relationship with food, but like a lot of people, I struggled after I quit smoking. It all came to a head when I made the mistake of stepping on the scale for the first time in years on the night before I left for a beach vacation. <–tip: don’t do that.

Since then, I’ve concentrated more on my meals and nutrition. Given the amount of baking and recipe testing I do every week, strict diets aren’t for me right now. Instead, I’ve spent time planning meals that are heavy on nutrients and limiting my snacking to fruits and vegetables. I’ve also spent more time consciously exercising; this is definitely helped by the smoking cessation. I still bake and eat sugar (obviously!) and have no intention of stopping, but I try to limit my consumption to once a day. So far, so good.

As a result of all these changes, I’ve got some new meal-time recipes to share with y’all over the coming weeks and months. Please consider this photo of a recent batch of Sausages with Roasted Grapes as a teaser.

On Self-Care & Food BloggingSo, why exactly am I telling you all this? Because another part of my new-and-improved self-care regimen has been to get back to regular posting. Blogging makes me happy; if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. I have no plans to go back to three posts a week–with a day job and a social life, that is just too demanding. Two posts per week, however, has proven to be doable. You may not have noticed, but I have stepped up my posting since the beginning of September. With the exception of one Friday where most of Brooklyn lost internet access, I’ve posted twice a week since Labor Day.

My posting is not on an exact schedule right now, but I am headed in that direction again. For now, I am trying to post on Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday, all at around 1pm Eastern Time. I am planning to start posting earlier in the day soon, but as each post requires about 12-15 hours of my time, I’m deciding to concentrate on creating quality content for now and worry about timely publishing later. In addition, I’ll be debuting a more streamlined Recipe Index by the beginning of next week.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
New favorite chocolate chip cookies. Coming at you soon.
If any of you have any recipe requests or ways that you think I could improve this little corner of the internet, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to reach out to me via email or on any of my social media accounts. Your feedback is always appreciated.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging
Out of the fog.
It feels good to be back on a blogging regimen these past few weeks. After all, this blog was originally created by me for me. I wanted a food blog for six years before I got brave and crazy enough to hit “publish.” The fact that any of you come here to read my ramblings and make my recipes is just icing on the not-so-proverbial cake. Thanks for reading.

On Self-Care & Food Blogging