Brown Butter Cocoa Oats from NYT Food

Brown Butter Cocoa Oats
I wanted to try this recipe for brown butter cocoa oats all week but I couldn’t motivate myself to get out of bed and make it. When it’s cold, rainy, and cloudy, all I want to do is press snooze three times on my alarm and hide under the covers.

Today the sun was shining, though, so I figured it was the perfect occasion to force myself to get out of bed. I went downstairs and made this oatmeal before I went to work.

I realized while I was making these oats that recipes don’t always come with explanations. I guess that’s the whole point of a recipe, but still, sometimes I think people follow them blindly and don’t understand why they’re doing a certain step. For example, this recipe from The New York Times food section tells you to brown butter and then mix the oats in, but it doesn’t tell you why you need to stir the oats in after you brown the butter.

You might be tempted to skip this step, but don’t. The reason you mix in the oats is you’re giving them flavor from the browned butter. They’ll become nutty and fragrant. That flavor will shine through in the finished product.

I topped my oats with banana, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, almond milk, and a pinch of flaky sea salt. The sea salt is key because it balances the sweetness AND it brings out the chocolate flavor in the oats.

I’m going to revisit this recipe soon and maybe add cinnamon or coffee. I could see a mocha flavored version of this recipe being delicious.

Here’s a song to take you into the weekend. It’s a new song by one of my favorite musicians, Josh Rouse. I went to see him live by myself when I lived in Chicago a few years ago. I kept thinking we were making eye contact but we probably weren’t. Still, it’s thrilling that I was that close to the stage.

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Date Tahini Banana Smoothie Bowl with Cacao Nib Hearts

Date Tahini Banana Smoothie Bowl
I wanted to get back on my smoothie bowl game so I made this date, tahini, banana smoothie last week.

Sometimes the inspiration for a smoothie bowl comes to me the night before, but other times, it comes to me as I’m making it. I’ll start with an idea (for example, these cacao nib hearts) and then I’ll get the inspiration for the rest of the bowl later.

I decided to fill in the hearts with coconut because coconut pairs well with dates, tahini, and cacao nibs. I used some leftover homemade granola to form a ring around the outside of the bowl and I garnished one side with blueberries. I like the way the finished product looks. The cacao nib hearts kind of remind me of a needlepoint design.

I was having a conversation the other day about smoothie bowls and someone commented that it must take a long time. Yeah, it does take a while, especially if you have a complicated design. But to me it’s worth it. I used to make one every morning, which seems crazy in retrospect.

Now I save them for mornings where I have a little more time to spare. It’s relaxing. I’d compare it to knitting or another craft, because once you start you get completely in the zone and forget about everything else.

In other news, it’s almost the weekend and I’m pretty excited about it. I don’t have any real plans beyond eating some delicious food and making a cake (I haven’t decided between the chocolate or the pistachio cardamom version, yet). If it’s nice on Sunday I might go for a hike…here’s to hoping. The weather here has been unpredictable lately.

Here’s a song to play while you’re making this smoothie bowl. It’s also good for times when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic and you need a distraction.

Date Tahini Banana Smoothie Bowl with Cacao Nib Hearts


1 cup pitted dates
1 banana
2 Tbsp good-quality tahini
1 cup regular almond milk
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
cacao nibs, shredded coconut, granola, and blueberries for topping


Blend the dates, banana, tahini, almond milk, yogurt, and cinnamon together in a blender on high until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with cacao nibs, shredded coconut, granola, and blueberries. Enjoy!

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Cardamom Rose Chia Pudding

Cardamom Rose Chia Pudding
I’m a big fan of breakfasts that come together the night before. For this cardamom rose chia pudding, you blend together the ingredients at night before you go to bed, pour them into a glass or jar, seal the top, and then you have breakfast in the morning.

The part of this pudding that did not come together quickly was the topping, i.e., the dried rose petals. I’ve been looking for dried, edible rose petals for forever but I haven’t had any luck finding them. I thought about ordering them on Amazon but that seemed ill-advised. Plus, the prices they were quoting were ridiculous.

Saturday I decided to go to Maplewood, a cute little town in St. Louis, to find the rose petals. There are a few spice and specialty grocery stores there and I thought that one would carry them.

As it turns out, none of them did. One of the shop owners told me to go to Cheryl’s Herbs, which is down the street from Maplewood’s commercial strip. I stopped by as a last resort and I was rewarded with a bag of edible, dried rose petals.

The shop owner didn’t seem to think that I’d want to pay $5 for an ounce of dried rose petals. She couldn’t have been more wrong. By the end of this experience I would have been willing to pay $10. Five dollars seemed like a bargain.

ANYWAY. You don’t *need* the dried rose petals for this cardamom rose chia pudding, but they’re a nice touch. They look pretty on top of the pudding, they add even more rose flavor, they’re fragrant, and they pair well with the chopped pistachios. Plus, you only need a few so you can save the rest of the dried petals for other desserts. I’m thinking about making a chocolate cake or a pistachio rosewater cake this week, both of which have dried rose petals on top as a garnish.

When you’re looking for the petals, make sure you find ones that are edible. That might seem intuitive but a lot of places will sell dried petals that are only suitable for potpourri or decoration.

Here’s a song to get you started on your cardamom rose chia pudding journey. It’s featured in one of my favorite French movies, “Jean de Florette.”

Cardamom Rose Chia Pudding (makes one serving)


1 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or to taste)
1/4 tsp rosewater
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
edible rose petals and chopped pistachios for serving


Blend the coconut milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, rosewater, cardamom, and vanilla extract in a blender on high until combined, about 30 seconds. Pour into a Mason jar or a tall glass and seal or cover tightly with tinfoil or plastic wrap. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, remove the pudding from the refrigerator and top with edible rose petals and chopped pistachios. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato, Cashew, Kale Korma

Sweet Potato Korma Tiffin
I missed cooking Indian food so Sunday night, I decided to try a new recipe.

I often make dal, or lentil stews, at home, but I’ve never made korma. I’m not sure why. It’s very easy except for the chopping part. It requires A LOT of chopping.

Still, once you put in the prep work everything comes together quickly. For those of you who are unfamiliar with korma, it’s essentially a slow-cooked stew. I haven’t seen it at many Indian restaurants in town or when I travel in the U.S., which makes me like it even more. As far as I can see, it hasn’t been adapted for the masses.

This korma is perfect for the end of winter/beginning of spring. It’s spicy, warming, and fragrant, it includes some bright greens, AND it has cashews, one of my favorite nuts. Yeah, cashews aren’t as good for you as, say, almonds or walnuts, but they’re packed full of flavor and they’re filling. They’re buttery and rich, which makes them the perfect addition to a soup or stew.

I served this korma with jasmine rice and naan but you could also serve it with basmati rice. You could even eat the korma on its own but you’ll probably find that you want a starch or carb. I liked using the naan to scoop up the stew and wipe the bowl clean.

This korma is sweet and I’m not sure why. I didn’t add any sugar to it. I guess a little of it comes from the sweet potatoes and the rest comes from the garam masala. I’d recommend adding a couple generous pinches of salt to the dish to season it at the end. You can add the salt throughout the cooking process but I think waiting until the end is the best bet. It allows the other spices to marinate and it gives you a better idea of how much salt you need.

Here’s a song to get you started on your korma-making journey. I heard it a long time ago and then yesterday it popped up on my Spotify Discover Weekly. I think it’s in “Lady Bird.”

Sweet Potato, Cashew, Kale Korma


1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 medium sized yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp grated ginger
200 ml canned diced tomatoes (or fresh if you’d like)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp Garam masala powder
1 can (14 oz) full fat coconut milk
1 medium sized sweet potato, diced
80 g raw cashew nuts
80 g kale, roughly chopped
salt, to taste
jasmine rice and naan for serving


Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, garam masala powder, coconut milk, and sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Cook until the sweet potato is slightly soft, about 20 minutes. Add the kale and cashew nuts and cook for 15 more minutes. Taste the korma and season with salt to taste. Serve with jasmine rice and naan. Enjoy!

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Persian Nut Bars

Persian Nut Bars
When I discover a new cooking show I like, I wave goodbye to my spare time. That’s what happened when I found “Poh & Co.” on Netflix.

The show follows the life of Poh Ling Yeow, a home cook who participated in Australia’s Master Chef competition a while ago. Yeow cooks, spends time with her husband, friends, dogs, and family, travels, installs a backyard garden with a bee hive, and opens a stand at the Adelaide Farmers Market. In short, Poh is my role model.

I want to go to Australia more than ever after watching the series. I think I’d fit in well there because I love warm weather, the beach, fresh produce, AND I like superlatives. Every time Yeow or her friends taste something she makes, they say things like, “Gorgeous!” and “Beautiful!” They have very emphatic reactions to food.

Which brings me to these Persian nuts bars. I was watching one of the last episodes of Season 2 and Yeow started making these bars. It was one of those moments when I instinctually knew that I had to make the recipe.

I gathered the ingredients and made the bars Saturday afternoon. They come together quickly. All you do is chop some nuts, mix them with honey, cardamom, a pinch of salt, and rosewater, and spread them in a small, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Once the mixture bakes and turns golden brown, you remove it and let it cool in the pan. Make sure you pat it down with the back of a spoon or spatula. This will make the nuts meld together more and will create firmer bars.

I omitted a couple ingredients that Yeow used in her original recipe including saffron and orange zest. The orange zest didn’t make it in because I forgot about it, but unless you’re a big fan of citrus, I don’t think you need it. I omitted the saffron because I didn’t want to shell out the extra cash for it. I will only spring for saffron on very special occasions or dishes such as paella, where it’s an integral element.

Anyway. The bars didn’t lack for orange or saffron. They were delicious. In fact, they’re one of the best things I’ve ever made. I know I say that often so it’s hard to believe me, but in this case it’s true. The crunchy, slightly caramelized nuts, sweet honey, pinch of salt, spicy cardamom, and fragrant rosewater create bars that are good for a snack or a meal. I could see having a couple for breakfast or taking them on a hike.

Here’s a song to get you started on your Persian Nut Bar journey. It’s from one of my favorite Australian musicians.

Persian Nut Bars (adapted from Poh Ling Yeow)


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
1 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp rosewater


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 10 inch by 6 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper so some of the paper hangs over the edges. You’ll need this later to remove the bar mixture from the pan.

Mix the almonds, pistachios, sunflower kernels, cardamom, and coconut together in a large bowl. Heat the honey in a small saucepan until it’s warmed through. DO NOT let it boil.

Mix the rosewater and salt into the nut mixture and then add the honey. Use a spatula to make sure all the nuts are evenly coated with honey.

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking sheet and pan down with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top of the mixture is golden brown. Remove from the oven and pat down firmly with the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula. This will ensure that the nuts meld together and will create firmer bars.

Allow the mixture to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once cool, remove the mixture from the sheet by carefully pulling up the sides of the parchment paper. Place the rectangle on a cutting board and cut it into bars.

Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!




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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week was what I like to call the “fake out week,” i.e., the week where it starts to feel like spring for 24 hours and then it goes back to being cold, gray, and dreary. I enjoyed the brief glimmer of sunshine, though.

My boyfriend and I took a long walk Thursday through Forest Park. I haven’t been to the park since fall so it was nice to spend time there again. At one point, I stopped along the path because I saw this sunset. The park has so much natural beauty.

In other news, I got a postcard from one of my good friends from grad school yesterday and it was a nice surprise. I am singlehandedly trying to bring back snail mail, or correspondence via post. Emails are great and waaay more convenient, especially if you’re trying to catch up with someone in a hurry. But there’s nothing better than opening the mailbox and getting a handwritten letter. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

This week is supposed to be rainy and dreary in St. Louis and I’m SO over it. Still, it’s reassuring that spring is just around the corner. Usually in April, it’s like a switch flips and the weather becomes more temperate. I am counting down the days until I can go on some real hikes and spend the whole day outside.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

When I was little I used to hate apples, mostly because the only apples I tried were Red Delicious. Apparently, I’m not alone in my disgust. The Red Delicious apple has fallen out of favor with pretty much everyone, according to this article from The New Food Economy. It’s gotten to the point now where farmers in the U.S. are shipping the apples abroad because no one here will buy them. Can’t say I’m surprised.

The Frugal Traveler, a reporter for the New York Times who writes about traveling on a budget, stopped by St. Louis recently. He wrote about his time in the city in a story published last week. He hit up some spots I’ve never heard of including Thurman’s. He also went to two of my favorite restaurants, Vicia and Union Loafers.

In other New York Times news…The newspaper recently published a thinkpiece about the advent of bread in L.A. after years of gluten hate. Unsurprisingly, people in L.A. were PISSED. I can’t blame them. I get sick of New Yorkers trying to characterize other people’s food scenes based on their faraway judgments (I’m convinced that many of these people haven’t even been to L.A./tried the food there). Anyway, this story in Eater sums up the situation nicely.

The far-right French leader Marine Le Pen thinks a new name will save her party. Last week Le Pen decided to change her party’s name from “Front National” to “Rassemblement National,” or “National Rally.” She’s trying to appeal to the common man/woman with the name change but, in my opinion, it only makes her sound more like a Nazi. Pauline Bock, a reporter for the New Statesman, examines the popular reaction to the name change in this article.

Have I mentioned how much I love Maven? Everyone has their addictions and one of mine is sugar scrubs. It’s a good addiction to have because I hike and run so much, my feet are always in a state of disarray. Once a month or so I go to Maplewood, a cute little neighborhood in St. Louis, and pick up some sugar balm at Maven. I’d highly recommend going if you’re in town and you want some handmade bath and beauty products.

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I hardly ever go on Reddit but this story from The New Yorker intrigued me. It looks at the struggle between free speech and keeping hate off the Internet, especially on social media platforms such as Reddit. The story also delves into the effect of human fallibility on social media. It’s easy to forget that people are powering the platforms, so naturally there are some biases involved in what stays/goes in terms of content.

Last but certainly not least, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are pretty much dominating the entertainment industry right now. Ever since their hit series Big Little Lies (I’m obsessed) premiered last year, they’ve leveraged the success of the show to land some big production deals. I enjoyed reading about the projects they have in the works. I also thought it was interesting what this story had to say about ad-supported television. Broadcast and cable channels weren’t even involved in serious bidding for Witherspoon and Kidman’s shows. It certainly seems like the future of TV is in streaming platforms.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Granola Recipes, Power Ranked

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I didn’t realize it until recently but I eat *a lot* of granola.

It came to my attention when my aunt emailed me and told me that she was going to make the lemon poppyseed granola I posted a few days ago. It got me thinking about all the granola I’ve made over the years. As it turns out, I’ve made a ton.

I’m all for buying overpriced granola at the grocery store (especially when it’s really good and local), but I’m an even bigger proponent of making it home. It’s easy, relatively quick, and it makes your house smell good (unless you burn it). Then you have breakfast for a week.

I’ve played around with different combinations over the years and I’ve tried other food bloggers’ recipes. I’ve included a power ranking below so you have the best recipes and I have a place where I can find them easily.

In other news, my colleague got me to fill out a March Madness bracket this morning, which was hilarious. I know nothing about sports and I have no idea which teams are good or not, but apparently I did an okay job filling out my bracket (according to the peanut gallery on Twitter that responded to this post).

I have two dollars riding on this experience so we’ll see what happens.

Without further ado, here are the granola power rankings:

1.) Tahini Orange Cacao Nib Granola – This recipe comes to you courtesy of The First Mess, one of my favorite food blogs. I love tahini, orange, and cacao nibs, and their combination in this granola is a symphony of flavors. I would highly recommend making it as breakfast or a weekly snack.

2.) Vegan Small Batch Granola – I tweaked a recipe from Joy the Baker (another popular blogger) to make this vegan small batch granola. This is the kind of granola that makes your whole house smell good. It’s also addictive.

3.) Cherry Cacao Nib Granola – I made this granola to imitate a version that I used to buy all the time when I lived in D.C. It came pretty close to the original. If you’re not a cacao nib fan, you can always swap them out for chocolate chips.

4.) Chocolate Tahini Granola – Can you tell I like tahini in granola? It’s as hearty as peanut butter or almond butter but it has a more unique flavor. This chocolate tahini granola is more like dessert than breakfast, but that’s okay. It can serve a double purpose.

5.) Lemon Poppyseed Granola – This is the recipe my aunt emailed me about recently. I told her to add more sugar if she likes her granola super sweet, because this version is more on the savory side. Either way, it’s a good base recipe and you can add more or less sweetener to taste. This granola is also the perfect addition to smoothies or smoothie bowls.

6.) Turmeric Maple Granola – Granola is kind of a year-round thing, but if there was winter granola, this would be it. It’s spicy, fragrant, and warming, as food should be when the days get short and cold.

7.) Chai Spiced Granola – This recipe comes to you from deep in the Allez Le Food archives. I made it in 2016 when I wanted a homemade topping for a smoothie bowl. It’s been a while but if I remember correctly, it’s very fragrant and crunchy. I like those qualities in granola.

8.) Chocolate Granola – So…this recipe is dessert. Let it happen. Embrace it. Make dessert breakfast. The only thing stopping you is yourself. The chocolate, sea salt, and cacao powder…I’m at a loss for words.

9.) Lemon Chia Granola – On the opposite end of the spectrum is this lemon chia granola, which is very light and only slightly sweet. I’d recommend it during the summer months when you feel like you can’t breathe in the heat and you want a light granola to pair with berries and yogurt.

10.) Date Macadamia Granola – This recipe calls for date syrup, which you can find at most specialty stores. If you don’t have the syrup or you can’t find it, I would substitute in some chopped dates. The sweet dates and buttery macadamia nuts pair well together.

* A tip for granola-making: Watch your granola. This may sound intuitive but it’s so easy to walk away while it’s baking in the oven. Granola can burn very easily so I’d advise checking it often to make sure it’s baking evenly. Most recipes call for tossing the granola on the sheet after about 10 minutes to make sure it bakes evenly and doesn’t burn. 

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