Tag Archives: breakfast

Go big, or go home

15 May

New York

This weekend, after spending the past two weeks digging myself out of boxes and cleaning products, I ventured out in to my beloved NYC and actually explored.

With my camera.

Ground-breaking, right?

However, it felt… Amazing. Like I was back in business. After a really lonely winter and struggle with the blues, I’d like to think that I’m waking up again, which, coincidentally, matches the coming of summer. I’m not gonna sugarcoat things; the past few months have been rough. Real rough. I lose all enthusiasm for school and dealt with a copious amount of stress and dissatisfaction at work. Ask any of my friends and I was one negative nancy.

coffee

But, this weekend I felt like the old Amanda, er the new Amanda… The more lively Amanda, I guess.

What better way to celebrate the gorgeous weekend than a little excursion to get monster donuts. Donuts that have a loyal (albeit cultish) following. My friends and I made the trek to the Doughnut Plant, a Lower East Side doughnut shop that has a damn good reputation for delivering fatty, sweet doughnuts. The line was long, but not as bad as expected for a Saturday morning. However, I should warn you that the shop is teeny tiny. One man working the register, and at least a dozen customers excited to nosh their brains out.

While I love a good cake donut, this time I was all about the yeast kind. They had a range of flavors including Vanilla Bean, Coconut Cream, Valhrona Chocolate, Cashew, Fresh Mango, Creme Brulee, and so many more. Resisting the urge to get them all, I settled on a true winner: the Peanut Butter-glazed doughnut with Blackberry jam filling.

donut

Oh. my. god.

It was heavenly. No, seriously. I heard angels sing. The salty crunchy peanut butter glaze combined with the sweet blackberry jam was exactly what I wanted. Not to mention, the actual monster-sized donut was pretty stellar. Soft, with a fried outside, but moist inside. It is sad to see a donut fall flat and thankfully, the Doughnut Plant’s did the exact opposite.

Next time, I plan on trying the fresh mango flavor because I just can’t imagine what mango + donut actually tastes like.

Till then, I will dream about the epic donut I had.

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Going Gluten-Free at BabyCakes NYC

27 Mar

donuts, sweets, babycakes, bakery, breakfast

When I think of gluten-free pastries, I think of dry baked goods, stiff to the touch. Thankfully, going gluten-free isn’t my lifestyle however, after trying Babycakes NYC, I might change my tune. In the midst of the gritty Lower East Side lies this little bakery. The minute I walked in , I knew it was my kind of place. While it was tiny, the attitude was cheerful and contagious, with some 90s rap playing in the background and cute, retro girls serving up some pastries. I don’t know what made me laugh more, the guy behind the counter trying to dance to “Back That Thang Up” or the girls rapping along to the song…

I had my heart set on donuts so that was my obvious choice. Looking at their display case, I felt indecisive and overwhelmed, as if I was shoe-shopping. Which one do I get? What if it isn’t as good as I had hoped? Why are there so many options?

donuts, babycakes, sweets, bakery, nyc, vanilla, breakfast

donuts, bakery, breakfast, nyc, babycakes

After my quick nervous meltdown, I went with my gut: vanilla doughnut with pink sprinkles. My friend went with the Lemon Coconut, which, by her guttural response, was delicious. Soft inside with a crunchy sugary outside, my donut was the best I had eaten in a while. I can’t remember eating a donut that didn’t knock me over the head with sugar, but somehow Babycakes delivers a sweet but not coma-inducing baked good. As for the rest of the products, I plan on coming back if I am back in that neighborhood. I hear they deliver too which is awfully tempting.

Home is good for the heart

20 Dec

I was on edge all day last Thursday. An antsy traveler, I couldn’t wait to get on the plane and be home. Although, if I may be fair, I was a little sad to leave New York. In only a few months, my heart has opened to New York, to all its little folies and fun quirks. Especially now, during the holidays and chilly weather, the city is bursting with energy. However, with my bags packed, I boarded my JetBlue flight, cocktail in hand, ready to grace my hometown.

I can’t put in to words how happy I was driving through my little neighborhood. Even though the weather was gloomy, everything looked bright and luminous to me. The first thing I did was collapse on my GIANT queen bed, fully clothed and observed the silence. Not one horn, siren, or angry shout could be heard. And it was lovely. The next thing I did was smother my oven in kisses. Crazy, yes, but true.

After a deep and refreshing night’s sleep, I woke up with a sudden craving for biscuits. Humble and savory, it made for a good partner with my steaming cup of coffee. I am not a traditional biscuit gal; I prefer muffins or scones. But, on this morning, I couldn’t quell my desire for a buttery biscuit.

I chose this baking powder biscuit recipe from my beloved “Baking Handbook” by Martha Stewart. Instead of the traditional whole milk, I used buttermilk as it provided a little tang with each bite. Without yeast, they aren’t as fluffy as I’d like but that was to be expected. If you are still planning your Christmas menu, I would recommend these biscuits because of their basic ingredients and quick preparation. Next time, I’d add some rosemary or perhaps cheddar cheese. Nothing like some cheesy goodness!

You can find the original recipe here.

Christmas Treats

16 Dec

In the past, this little space of mine becomes decked out with the Christmas sweets. Cookies in every shape and flavor are featured on every page. Pies, oh the pies! Let’s not forget about the cakes too. Sadly, as you can see, I’ve posted NADA on Christmas sweets. However, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and maybe give you some ideas for your holiday parties.

Chocolate bread pudding.

This would be a smart dish to make for a party since it can be made the night before hand and requires almost no day-of prepping. Use old eggy bread, soak it in the chocolate custard overnight, and bake it the day off.

Mini Lemon Curd Cheesecakes

For that big party you have planned, give these mini cheesecakes a shot. You can make them the night before, chill them overnight, and bring them to room temperature before your party starts. Plus, I guarantee your partygoers will be happy to see some citrus on the overly chocolate buffet table.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Dark chocolate, sweet condensed milk, and lots of butter. From the geniuses behind the famed Baked bakery, I present to you an addicting bar cookie.

Triple Chocolate Scones

Scones are a lovely way to start your morning. Why not kick it up a notch by adding in three different kinds of chocolate? I totally just made you drool, didn’t I?

Icebox Butter Cookies

Nothing says Merry Christmas like butter cookies, especially those dipped in festive sprinkles. What I love the most about this recipe is how easy it is. Slice and bake. It can’t be any easier, right?

Hope these Christmas treats help you out! They are some of my favorite recipes and have helped me in a pinch. Are there other recipes that you turn to annually? I’m curious to hear about your holiday staples.

Return to Normalcy

16 Mar

After a five month run, I quit my second job. While I loved my coworkers and the job’s social aspects, I didn’t enjoy the way I was living my life. Running around from one job to another was making me frantic and my creative endeavors suffered tremendously. It’s amazing what happens to your energy when you are operating at a very basic level.

Doing the things you love like writing and photography take a back seat and you no longer feel the urge to enjoy the life you lead. I’m grateful to have met and become close to a couple of the stylists but I can’t wait to focus on more personal projects.

To usher in this joyous time (seriously, I’m ecstatic), I tried my hand at one of my favorites: lemon pound cake. I know that I make a lot of these pound cakes (Brown Sugar Pound Cake, Perfection Pound Cake, Pumpkin Pound Cake) but there is something magical about this cake. It’s like a childhood friend: reliable, sturdy, and unforgettable.

Who knew that a pound of butter, sugar, and a handful of eggs can produce something so delicious in an hour? Obviously, I forgot how baking works in my five month dry spell.

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Going Bananas

21 Feb

You’ve probably been wondering what’s been going on behind the scenes. I was burnt out after the holidays and officially set a hiatus for all baking projects. Blame it on the mentioned winter blues or the fact that I’ve been trying to watch my wallet (and baking ingredients aren’t cheap) but it’s true. What’s strange to me is that I don’t really care. Before, I’d feel empty or lost because baking was a creative outlet. It may sound weird, but my fellow bakers out there know what I am talking about. Creating something delicious and decadent out of a few basic ingredients is a lot of fun. I’m not even talking about the photography part of it either, although that happens to be one of my favorite parts of the baking project.

To wake up my motivation, I bought Karen DeMasco’s “Craft of Baking” hoping I’d get inspiration. But that didn’t work either. In desperation,I sat down with a journal and  went back to basics. What flavors sound delicious right now when winter is passing and spring is just around the corner? What is a daily staple in my diet? What can I not live without. Suddenly, it became clear. Bananas were on the horizon. Specifically, a Classic Banana Bundt Cake from the reliable Dorie Greenspan.

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Art & waffles

20 Jan

It’s been almost a year since I’ve moved out on my own. I look at my little place and smile. This small home has become something of mine. Does that make sense? I look around and it is a true reflection of me. From the black and white photos of Paris to the band posters hung in the hallway, my home represents every facet of me.

I remember those first couple of months living in my new home. I hated the lack of natural light and the non-existent dining room. I preferred to hide in my room because my living room felt so cold and sparse. With a little love and care, I’ve created a space that I treasure. And I did it all on my own.

To honor my anniversary, I did two things.
1. Bought a customized piece of art that is utterly gorgeous. Thanks to Megan Weeden for her wonderful work! I can’t wait to snap a photo of it.
2. Made myself some homemade waffles with my new waffle iron.

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Reason Enough

27 Sep

I started this blog almost two years ago for two reasons.

1. I was bored.
2. I wanted a challenge.

Simple, right? In retrospect, I’m surprised that I actually started because I had no experience in baking or photography. I’d dabbled in photography in high school, found it utterly fascinating but I lacked the resources to really make a go of it. The only thing I’d ever successfully baked was a roll of Nestle Tollhouse cookies. But on that October day, I gave myself a challenge. Bake up a storm for two years, and if I hate it, I’d stop. But two years was my timeline because it was long enough to really get me going but short enough that my commitment-phobic ways wouldn’t start wreaking havoc.

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The Time Traveler

8 Sep

Recently, I started thinking about time travel. No, I’m not getting all science-fiction on you, I’m thinking more along the fiction lines. But I have been wondering what kind of discussions I would have with my younger self. I ran upon this book yesterday that was a compilation of letters that Madeline Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton, and Maya Angelou and loved the idea behind it. Even these wise, powerful women have some kind of vulnerability, and sharing these letters proves that we all have made some kind of mistakes, things we wish we could take back. But instead of erasing these mistakes and memories all together, these women write to help ease the pain, to offer some comfort. Don’t we all want that kind of insight? Surely I’d like to erase the painful memories from my childhood, but erasing them wouldn’t benefit me. Like the others, I’d rather ease the pain with words of comfort and advice. What would I say to that lonely little girl, sitting by herself at the dining room table waiting for her mom to come home from her hellish 14-hour work day.

Could I look at my kid-self and remain impartial, withholding information so as not to give away what lies ahead? I believe I’d offer little tips, like “Whatever you do, do NOT die your hair purple in 8th grade. Trust me, it will take forever for it to get out”, and “Don’t worry about those selfish blonde girls who claim to be your friends. Their behavior is no reflection of you, and in the end, you will find true friends who like your quirky humor and quiet demeanor”, and “Spend as much time as possible outside. Run around in that big backyard of yours and watch the clouds pass. You will feel more at peace in that moment than at any other time.”

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Just around the corner

11 Aug

I walked in to a local shop and before I stepped my two feet in to the door, fall hit me. I don’t mean that I fell, although knowing my clumsy nature, that would be so like me. I mean, autumn/fall/halloween/winter/christmas hit me. Everywhere I looked, there were party decorations for all those seasonal holidays.

I was shocked. SHOCKED. I could feel the hives start to rise. I wanted to run out of the store, with my hands cupped over my ears, screaming NO NO NO.

How can this be? Is it really that close? I know, technically, we are only four months away from Christmas, but aren’t we getting a little trigger happy? I can barely think about next week, let alone a couple of months from now. I had just started savoring the summer season. Beaches, sun, long evenings, late mornings. I can already feel my summer falling through my fingertips.

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