the beautiful things

things i made

{things i made} ice cream sandwiches

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I feel like there was a meeting sometime recently where people sat with a calendar and a list of every marketable dessert and randomly paired the sweet treats with specific dates. Either that, or these daily matchups always existed and social media has been running with them as of late. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining–I love any way that inspiration gets to me and my kitchen. So when I found out this past Saturday was "National Ice Cream Sandwich Day" I couldn't let the opportunity go by with giving a recipe a try–and I can't think of a better way to spend a summer night than giggling as ice cream melts and cookies crumble (I've got the after-hours Instagram post to prove it). All kidding aside, you should probably plan better than I did and actually freeze the sandwiches for a more enjoyable–and less sticky–experience!


​​1/​3​ cup​ olive oil​​
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/​4 cup cocoa powder
1/​4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Partially thawed ice cream, preferably vanilla

​1. ​Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line a​n​ 10 x 15 baking sheet with parchment paper​ and grease​. ​ ​Whisk together​ oil and sugar​, then​​ w​hisk in egg and vanilla extract.​
2. ​Combine dry ingredients​ and add to ​wet​ mixture.​ Stir until incorporated. Spread evenly over parchment paper.​ Score with a pizza ​cutter​ and prick with dowel to for​m ​hole-pattern.
​​3.  Bake, removing​ from oven after about​ 8 to​10 minutes. Let cool​ completely​. Remove from parchment and place squared​ blocks of ​ice cream​ (cut with a knife and shape with a spatula and spoon)​ in between two cookies.​ Wrap individually with wax paper and freeze until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.


{things i made} braised chicken with dates

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I have tried tagine-type recipes before, loading lots of spices, meat, and a braising liquid into a pot and cooking until all of the flavors blend. None have held that much of an appeal to me but not anymore–this mixture has the perfect balance of sweet and savory, thanks to the wonderfully unique taste and texture of dates and carrots. It was my first time cooking with carrot juice and I was pleasantly surprised–it tastes  just as hearty and full-flavored as the vegetable itself. 



​3 lbs. ​bone-in, skin​ned​ chicken ​pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 large red onion(s), peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
2 tsp. ground ginger
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1.5 cups carrot juice
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/2 lb. (10 to 12) Medjool dates, pitted and halved lengthwise
fresh lemon juice and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a straight-sided sauté pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan, cover with a splatter screen, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other sides are deeply browned, 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan.
2. Put the pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s soft and begins to color, 8 minutes. Add the spices and stir into the onions for about 1 minute. Pour in the carrot juice and broth and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
3. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Cover and braise on the stovetop for 15 minutes. Add the dates and continue to cook until the chicken is tender and the meat starts to come away from the bone, 35 minutes more.
4. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and dried fruit to a serving dish and keep warm by covering loosely with foil. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the chopped cilantro, and serve with a side of couscous.



{things i made} lemon drop cookies

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Authentic Italian cookie recipes can be a bit strange on paper: if you've found one with lots of eggs and baking powder for leavening and extracts or alcohol for flavoring, you've probably come to the right place. These small, soft cookies fit that description perfectly. They have a unique, spongy texture that's complemented well by the sugary, lemony glaze. They're perfect for dunking in coffee or tea and, of course, the occasional snack.


3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
​4​ teaspoons lemon ju​ice 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

1. ​Preheat oven to 350 degrees. ​Beat eggs, milk, lemon ju​ice, sugar and oil until well blended.
​2. ​​Add flour and baking powder.  Mix until just blended​ (​dough ​will​ be sticky​)​.
​3. Drop the dough from a teaspoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart.
​4. ​Bake immediately for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove cookie sheet from oven.  Using a metal spatula, move cookies onto wire racks. Cool.
​5. For icing, mix 3 cups confectioner's sugar wtih 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 cup lemon juice until smooth. Frost the tops of the cookies (it will drip to coat the cookies). Dry the frosted cookies on wire cooling racks.

{things i made} spinach soufflé

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A soufflé is one of those buzzword-y type of dishes. It's French (fancy!), complicated (folding beaten egg whites!), and most of all dramatic (it could collapse once out of the oven!). While all those facts are true, this recipe is something else: easy. Following the order of steps is of course important but I've paid less-than close attention some days without any noticeable repercussions. It's as beautiful and impressive as it is delicious–golden, airy, and slightly sweet from minced onions.


2 16-oz bags frozen chopped spinach 
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 

1. Thaw spinach; squeeze well, discarding water. Preheat oven to 350°. Oil a 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; stir until smooth and bubbling. Add salt and pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. When mixture is thick and boiling, remove from heat. Stir in finely chopped onion and nutmeg.
3. In a mixing bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks have formed. In a separate bowl, beat yolks until frothy and lemon colored.
4. Stir egg yolks into the sauce mixture; stir in the spinach. Stir about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the spinach mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture.
5. Pour into the prepared
 dish. Set dish in a large pan then add water to a depth of about 1 inch. Bake for 60 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

{things i made} strawberry rhubarb crumble


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It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to track down rhubarb. But after a few phone calls and confused produce department managers, I had a heavy bunch of the technically-a-vegetable in hand. I had never had the opportunity to taste a piece raw (it has been baked up in pies all the way for me), and was surprised to find that though it resembled celery, it had the firm texture and tartness of some types of apples. This is why it pairs so well with strawberries–their juicy, sweetness offsets the rhubarb, making for a dessert that is deliciously well-balanced–of course that is after it's topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. For best results, eat outside and under the stars.


1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1 pound trimmed rhubarb, sliced 1/4" thick (about 4 cups)
3/4 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered if large or halved if small (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 egg, beaten well
6 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 tablespoons coarse sugar, for sprinkling

1. Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat to 375°F. Place an ungreased 10" tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and set aside.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the rhubarb and strawberries, and gently toss to coat. Spread the fruit in the pan and set aside.
3. In another bowl, sift together the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the oats. Add the egg and using your hands toss and pinch the mixture to produce moist crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit.
4. Drizzle the oil over the topping, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
5. Place the crumble in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the top is deeply golden and the fruit is bubbling and thick. Cool slightly. Serve the crumble warm (reheated in 300º oven) or at room temperature, preferably with ice cream and a sprinkling of minced candied ginger.

{things i made} summer desserts

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Last week I shared a list of entrees and side-dishes that would be perfect for a Fourth of July party (check out the post with links to my recipes here). Today it is all about desserts. The common, summery theme here is fruit as the star ingredient–strawberries, blueberries, cherries, lemons, lime, bananas, pineapple, and peaches. Be sure to check back tomorrow when I add one ​more to the list–rubarb! 



peach pie // cherry brownie ice cream sundaes // lemon bars // lemon blueberry layer cake // mango pie // strawberry shortcake // blueberry crumb bars // hummingbird cake // cornbread peach cake


{things i made} barbeque classics

The Fourth of July is next Friday–I know time flies–and whether you're going out, staying in, hosting a party, or attending one, chances are you'll encounter something BBQ-related on the holiday. I have always loved putting together meals arranged around grilled meats and varied side dishes, so I've rounded up some of my favorite recipes that fit that bill that I have featured over the past few years on my blog. Hope they help you craft your menu!

{things i made} zucchini-banana bread

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Sometimes you just want a cookie–or at least sometimes I do. But there are plenty of times I crave something a little less sweet with more chew and a better chance of filling me up. Enter muffins and fruit breads. They are perfect for a quick breakfast or midmorning snack (or later in the day too, of course). Loading them up with sugars and fats undoes a lot of their selling points, which is why this recipe is great:​ the sugar can be substituted for maple syrup or ommitted entirely, the white flour can be replaced with whole wheat, and the applesauce can be doubled instead of using oil. Why all that flexibilty? The small amount of banana goes a long way for moisture and sweetness, as do the raisins. 



1/3 to ​1/2​ a​ cup​ m​ashed​, very ripe banana (from​ about 1 large)​
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil
​1​/​2​ cup sugar (or 3 tablespoons maple syrup for a less sweet bread)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini​ (from about one medium)​, squeezed and drained of so​e of its liquid ​
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
​2​ teaspoon​s​ cinnamon
/​2​ teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1​/​2​ teaspoon salt
​3​/​4​ cup chopped walnuts
​3​/​4​ cup raisins

​1. ​Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8×4 
​loaf​ pan.
​ ​In a mixing bowl, mash banana until smooth. Add applesauce, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in 
​2. ​Sift together 1 cup of flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda and salt. Add the walnuts, raisins and final 1/2 cup of flour, and mix just until no visible flour is left.
​3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or knife. If it needs more time, reduce heat to 325 F and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and serve, with butter if preferred. ​


{things i made} baba au rhum

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I love choosing pastries from bakeries because of all the variety–seriously, I could stand in front of all the pretty choices for a long time consuming them visually. I have to be honest, baba never really caught my eye (they were always a favorite of my dad, which made them a perfect treat for Father's Day this year). I now realize I was missing out. The cake itself (which was invented in the seventeenth century) is what is so unique here:​ it is done with yeast, resulting in a texture that is perfect for soaking up a subltely aromatic rum surup and light pastry cream.


​½ cup milk
3 tsp yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
2 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt​​ ​
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest

​​​c​herries, for garnish​
r​um​ s​yrup, recipe follows
Italian​ p​astry​ c​ream, recipe follows

1.​ Oil and flour a muffin tin or mini bundt pan and set aside. ​Warm milk in a small saucepan, then​ ​remove from heat and set aside.​
2. ​In ​a ​bowl, combine yeast and ½ cup of flour. ​Stir in the warm milk​ and ​l​et​ mixture​ r​est to rise,​ about 15 minutes. ​
3. ​Add eggs one at a time.​ ​Add remaining flour, sugar, and salt​ followed by t​he​ oil and zests​. ​ ​Let​ dough ​rest for 10 minutes.​
4. Meanwhile, ​preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dive dough into six pieces and ​place in the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. ​ ​Let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes (the dough should reach the top of the molds).
​5. ​ Bake for​ 15-​2​0 minutes,​ ​or until the babas ​are ​​​golden brown.​ ​Remove from​ the​ oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. ​​ ​
6. To make the syrup: add​ 1.5 cups of w​ater​, ​3/4 cups of s​ugar​, ​the zest of one lemon, ​and 1​ teaspoon ​vanilla​ extract​​ ​to a medium saucepan.​ ​Bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. ​​​Remove from heat and cool for about 20 minutes. ​Stir in​ 1/3 cup​ rum.
7​. ​Set​ a​ wire rack over a sheet pan. ​Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the tops of babas. Pour the syrup over the cakes​ in batches​ and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, about​ 1​5 minutes.
8. To make the]cream: in a small saucepan, heat​ ​one cup of milk and​ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.​ ​Bring to a boil then remove from heat. ​ ​In a​ bowl, ​whisk ​six​ egg yolks ​with​ ​3/4 cup ​sugar.​ ​Add​ 1/4 cup​ flour,​ a pinch of ​salt, and​ 2 cups​ milk.​ ​Whisk until ​there are no lumps. ​Pour the warm milk into the eggs, whisking continuously.​ Return mixture back to saucepan and place over a medium heat​.​ Cook for about​ 1​5 minutes, stirring continuously until custard​starts to ​thicken. ​ Refrigerate and allow to cool​ completely.​
9. Using a spoon, hollow out the centers of each baba. ​​Fill with the c​hilled cream​ and​ top with a cherry.​ ​Cover and refrigerate​ ​until​ ready to serve.


{things i made} baked falafel


One of the first times I tried falafel, it was through take-out. The whole thing was a greasy mess, soggy and reeking of used oil. Still buried somewhere in there was a flavor and texture that I knew had potential. I tired the dish again at few sit-down restaurants and was soon hooked–the fritters were seriously addictive. Since I always find even well-made fried foods a little too indulgent, I love lightening a recipe by switching to baking if I can. Enter these little appetizers–crunchy and tasty but light.



2 cups chickpeas
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons all-purpose, whole wheat, or chickpea flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to grease the baking sheet
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
tahini sauce, for serving

1. Add garlic to the bowl of a food processor, run to chop. Then, add onion, and run to chop again.
2. Rinse chickpeas, drain well, and place in the food processor with the flour, olive oil, salt, and spices. Process in pulses, stirring regularly, until you get an even consistency
3. Fold in the parsley with a spatula. Cover and refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour, or until the next day.
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F and oil a rimmed baking sheet. Shape the falafel mixture into balls the size of a large walnut (about 40), and place them on the sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden.
5. For sauce, combine 1/4 cup sesame paste, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Serve with tahini sauce, crudités, and pita bread, making sandwiches if desired. 





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