Life Lately

Oh poor blog, I am so sorry for abandoning ye. But you’ve always been in my heart, I promise!

A month ago I started a new job at Cosmopolitan.com. New jobs generally tend to take up a lot of time, but when you LOVE your new job, they take up even more time without you realizing, because you are enjoying every second of it.

But I have been squeezing in some cooking to my crazy new life, and promise to share recipes soon! To tide you over, here are some delicious adventures I’ve had lately:

Australian gluten free treatsEnjoying gluten-free treats my mom brought me all the way from Australia (those chocolate cookies are crumbly but goooood.)

Gluten free chocolate cupcakesSpending the weekend in Atlanta with a bunch of my closest friends from college, staying with a friend’s parents who happen to be gluten-free and whose mom made this INCREDIBLE chocolate cupcake with chocolate mousse, marshmallow, and chocolate fudge.

Halloween sushiEnjoying my new gluten-free-friendly cafeteria (GF bread! GF signs on everything I can eat! GF soy sauce!), which gets really into the holidays.

Potato pastaTrying new (to me) restaurants in NYC with gluten-free options, like this pasta made out of potatoes at Sauce.

ABC kitchen And trying fancy restaurants too, like ABC Cocina. My best friend and I made a pact to try new restaurants each weekend, rather than continuously going to our old standbys. Best pact ever.

How to Copycat the Pies n Thighs Chicken Biscuit [Gluten Free Optional!]

If you know me, you know that sandwiches are my favorite food (some people find this controversial, but it’s valid, the end). Every year I look for a new favorite sandwich of the year, and a few years ago I discovered the chicken biscuit from Pies n Thighs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a juicy piece of boneless fried chicken on a biscuit that’s been slathered with honey butter and doused in hot sauce. It is, in a word, glorious. I’ve been missing it since going gluten free, so I decided to try to recreate it without the gluten. And…
Spicy fried chicken biscuit with honey butter and hot sauce (inspired by Brooklyn restaurant Pies n Thighs)It was surprisingly easy, and tasted exactly like the real version! Even if you’ve never had the real thing, this is a great impressive meal to make, and you’ll be sorry when you’ve finished your last bite. (And if you want the glutens, just use regular breadcrumbs!)

Pies n Thighs Chicken Biscuit Recipe [Copycat version]
Ingredients for the Marinade
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (mine had 4)
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper

Ingredients for Breading
3/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
3/4 cup almond meal (if you’re making these with gluten, you can use all breadcrumbs, but I’d recommend using almond meal anyway as it adds a great flavor)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp amounts of any other dried herbs you like (I added some basil and oregano)
olive oil

Ingredients for Serving
gluten-free biscuits, rolls, or English muffins, halved and toasted (I recommend the Trader Joe’s French rolls)
4 tbsp salted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp honey
hot sauce of your choice (like Frank’s Red Hot or Cholula)

For the marinade: pour buttermilk into a large (non-metal) bowl. Add in hot sauce, mustard, salt, cayenne, paprika, and pepper and whisk together until well mixed. Set aside. Take your chicken thighs out of the package, trim any fat, and pound them out a bit thinner between pieces of plastic wrap. Submerge chicken in buttermilk mixture, making sure it’s completely covered, and let marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 24, stirring things around once or twice.

When you’re ready to cook: in a large plate, mix together breadcrumbs, almond meal, salt, cayenne, thyme, pepper, garlic powder, and any other herbs with a fork until well distributed. Take each piece of chicken out of the buttermilk, let the excess drip off, and then dredge in crumb mixture until both sides are coated.

Heat enough olive oil to more than comfortably coat the bottom of your pan over medium heat. When it’s hot enough (toss in some breadcrumbs and they’ll sizzle), cook chicken–probably in batches of two so as not to overcrowd your pan–until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. (When flipping chicken, use a thin metal spatula to ensure that coating comes with the chicken.) While chicken cooks, mix together honey and butter in a small bowl until combined.

When ready to serve, divide honey butter between rolls. Top bottom half with chicken, douse with hot sauce to taste (more is better), and top with other half. Grab a lot of napkins, and dig in.

Statement Necklace Board Straight Out of Pinterest

I spent the last week taking some time off to relax before starting a new job, and set myself a long list of projects: visiting my grandma, making homemade veggie burgers, taking a bunch of spin classes, and finding a better way to store my statement necklaces (mushed in a tangled pile isn’t a great one). I knew I wanted to hang them somehow, but since cork boards are ugly I decided to pretty one up. The result is this super easy storage method that looks really pretty too.
Incredibly easy to make, GORGEOUS way to display and store your statement necklaces
Statement Necklace Display & Storage Board
Materials

square piece of cork board (designed in the back to be hung on the wall)
piece of thick paper in design of your choice, at least 4 inches bigger in both directions than your cork board
glue stick
scissors
decorative push pins
necklaces (most of these are from JCrew/Factory)

Take your glue stick and cover the whole of your cork board in glue. Carefully lay paper (centered) over it, smoothing as you go. Cut a diagonal line in overhanging paper at corners. Working one side at a time, glue side and back of cork board and carefully fold paper around edges of board, cutting and tucking at corners, so that board appears completely wrapped. Let dry at least one hour.

Stick pushpins along the top of your board at even intervals. Lay board on a flat surface and decide what order you want to display necklaces in (I recommend alternating bulky and more delicate ones) first. Remove necklaces, then hang board on your wall (mine came with screws but I just used two nails, a hammer, and the leveler in the compass app on my iPhone). Carefully hang necklaces from pins, and behold your handiwork.

Gluten-free Veggie Burgers [That Actually Taste Like Vegetables]

One of the most frustrating things about being gluten free is checking ingredients lists when food shopping, as so many things you wouldn’t even think could contain wheat seem to. I have a lot of good supermarkets near me, but not a single one’s veggie burger selection includes one that doesn’t contain wheat. Since homemade everything is better anyway, I decided to try making them from scratch.
Veggie burgers that actually taste like vegetables! (AND they're gluten free too!)The problem is that the breadcrumbs in commercial veggie burgers are what helps them hold together, something I only realized when I started cooking my first batch. I threw almond flour in to my second batch which definitely helped (and is great to use if you’re grain-free or slow carb), but I’d recommend using gluten-free breadcrumbs instead to really bind them together well; they’re a bit delicate otherwise…but still taste lightyears better than those gluten-y store bought veggie burgers. The great thing about making veggie burgers from scratch is that you can really customize them to your liking/based on what you have on hand. Don’t like peas? Use corn. Not a fan of spinach? Skip it. Have some leftover zucchini in the fridge? Throw it in. The world is your gluten-free oyster.
These veggie burgers actually taste like veggies (and they're gluten free too!)
Gluten-free Veggie Burger Recipe
Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato, cooked however you like (I roasted mine in a 350 degree oven for one hour, but if you need to save time just stab it with a fork and use the microwave), then peeled
1 cup cooked rice (I used jasmine. If you cook 1 cup of uncooked rice, you’ll have enough for the burgers and to have on the side)
8 ounces button, white, or cremini mushrooms, diced small
1 large carrot (or about 7 to 9 baby ones), diced small
2 small shallots, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (not thawed)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1/4 cup almond meal or gluten-free breadcrumbs
olive oil

In a large bowl, mash together sweet potato and rice. Set aside.

Heat enough olive oil to comfortably coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add mushrooms, carrot, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add in frozen peas and spinach and continue to cook, stirring to break up spinach chunks, until vegetables are cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add vegetable mixture to the bowl with the sweet potato and rice. (Wipe out skillet but don’t wash it yet.) Add cayenne, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper, and mix until well combined. Taste mixture and add more seasonings if necessary. Let cool about 30 minutes (you can speed this up in the fridge), then mix in egg and meal or breadcrumbs until everything is combined nicely.

Heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in your skillet (use a paper towel to spread it around). Take large golf ball-ish sized portions of the veggie mixture and flatten into patties, then add to skillet. Cook until lightly browned (about 4 minutes), then flip carefully with a thin metal spatula and cook on other side. Serve on toasted gluten-free buns with cheese, because cheese is the best.

(This recipe makes 8 to 10 burgers and freezes quite nicely. Freeze burgers between pieces of parchment paper in a freezer bag and reheat in a skillet or in the microwave.)

Proof of the Truth in My Blog Title

This weekend I went to a second birthday party for my best friend’s niece, who is truly a girl after my own heart. She refused to put down her cake even for a pony ride, so the cake came along on the pony with her.
cake babyCake is clearly the only thing that matters, whether you’re 2 or in your 20s (even if it’s [surprisingly good] gluten and dairy free cake).

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins [Adventures in Xanthan Gum]

Fall is upon us, which means it’s time for boots, new leather jackets, and being able to turn on the oven again without turning your apartment into a kiln.
You'd never, ever know these blueberry muffins are gluten free!I normally dive into baking season with enthusiasm, but I’ve been nervous this time around, since gluten-free baking is a new adventure for me. I did a lot of reading about it, and much of what I read kind of terrified me–lots of people warning off of baking with cups instead of weight (math?!), making your own flour blends (how big are your kitchens?!), and the perils of xanthan gum, the binder used in place of gluten. Baking and its ratios really are chemistry, but messing up xanthan gum ratios is not the same as using a little too much vanilla, and I couldn’t find a definitive agreement on how much to use. I also didn’t really love the ingredients lists in many of the recipes I found; some called for very specific flours, others required more eggs than I had on hand. To further complicate matters, many of the recipes I found were also dairy-free and other-stuff-free, and all I wanted to eliminate was gluten.
Gluten free blueberry muffin recipe – tastes just like the real thing!Naturally, I solved the problem by winging it and adapting an existing favorite (gluten) muffin recipe, because I have some sort of terrible compulsion to almost never follow recipe directions exactly, even when attempting something new. I ended up basing my xanthan gum usage off the package’s recommendation, but using a bit less than they suggested; I’d rather have my muffins be too crumbly than too tough. To my supreme surprise, these muffins actually came out as close to real muffins as they possibly could. The gluten-eaters in my life all loved them too, so these would be great to serve a crowd (but also great if you want to eat a dozen muffins by yourself–no judgments here).

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins [adapted from The Modern Baker]
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used King Arthur)
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal, which is coarser. I used Bob’s Red Mill, which my friend Lauren so kindly sent me)
2 tsp baking powder
1 slightly overfull tsp xanthan gum (mine is also Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract will also work, but make sure it’s the real thing)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
8 ounces fresh blueberries, picked over for stems and mushy ones
a bit of cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk (or stir with a fork) together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until lightened and getting fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla and scrape down the sides again. Add in half of flour mixture and mix on low speed until well mixed. Stop mixer and pour in the milk, then mix on low speed again until combined (you may want to start with your mixer on “stir” to avoid getting your counter covered in milk splashes). Add remaining flour mixture and mix again until combined. Add in blueberries and mix on stir until berries are just distributed.

Divide batter between the liners (they will be quite full) and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of each. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and tops are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes (basically until you can touch them without burning your fingers off), then move to wire rack to cool completely. If you’re making them later in the day, eat one for dessert (as my friend Sally says, muffins are just cake).

Behold: Gluten-free Challah Exists

Challah is the greatest kind of bread that exists in the world. This is an objective fact, so please do not argue. If I were to cheat on being gluten free with anything, it would be challah.

So when Rosh Hashanah rolled around, I knew I needed to find myself a gluten free substitute, or it was very likely that I would go off the rails. At first I looked at recipes, but as I still haven’t done much gluten-free baking, and bread is tricky even if you’ve got gluten on your side, I ended up turning to store-bought. After reading a whoooole lotta product reviews, I decided to try Katz Gluten Free.
How to get gluten free challah breadThe good news is that this was the first gluten-free bread I’ve eaten that didn’t absolutely need to be toasted. It is most definitely better when toasted, but I was able to douse plain slices in honey with the rest of my family. The texture is, of course, not quite the same, as challah’s wonderful stretchiness is thanks to that jerk gluten, but the flavor is pretty close. Their challah would absolutely work in French toast and bread pudding perfectly, too. They sell the challah in a lot of ways and sizes, but I just bought the small loaf (knife and honey for scale) as I’m the only GF member of my family.

I would definitely try more of their bread products, but I’d stick with those; I also tried their gluten-free hamentaschen and they were not very edible, unfortunately. If you’d like to give their breads a try, Katz will give you 35 percent off your fist order if you use my referral link, so here it is!

Also: I’ve been doing a little freelance writing on the side. Check out the two pieces I wrote for Cosmo recently!
The 6 Types of Coworkers No One Warns You About
11 Reasons Guys on OkCupid Are the Worst (these are all real messages I’ve received)

[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I found and paid for these products myself.]