Lauren: Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

red velvet cheesecake brownieThe day of red and pink is here at last! Valentine’s Day!

A few weeks ago I tested this recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen for red velvet cheesecake brownies and they changed my life. If you decide to plunge into this dreamworld of butter, sugar, chocolate, and cream cheese, then please follow these tips to achieve brownie bliss.

Whichever kind/percentage of chocolate you use (since the recipe simply calls for “dark chocolate,” (wow, thanks for those ultra specific directions), make sure the bar is something you’d be happy to eat in bar form as the chocolate is the star of the recipe. I made these brownies two times, the first with an organic cream cheese and the second with Philadelphia cream cheese. While the organic version looked like a curdled mess in the mixer, it retained more flavor and was a tangier counter to the chocolatey sweetness than the Philly version. The first bars also received rave reviews and Susan, my resident taste-tester, said, “Lauren, these might actually be one of the best things I have ever eaten.” But you know, take your pick.

Note too that these are FUDGY with a capital F. I had to cook them for several extra minutes (around 10) to achieve even the slightly brown edge described in the recipe due to their intense moisture (sorry!). They are totally worth it though and the recipe is low maintenance and comes together in a hurry—two mega pluses. They do well kept in tupperware in the refrigerator once they’ve cooled since they’re topped with cream cheese, but do let them stand at room temperature for around 10 minutes before serving so that you’ll really be able to taste their flavor.

These decadent bars are the perfect dessert for you, or you + others. You know what, these should only be baked in the event that you’ll serve them to a large group of people or else be prepared to eat the whole pan (which I DO NOT RECOMMEND!).

Some other recipes I considered before settling on this one:

Now go bake with your boo(s)/family/friends/furry companion and share the love that is these brownies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Caro: Banana-Nut Muffins… with Spinach

Umm, you guys… I did something weird. I mean, I do strange things all the time, like put my jeans in the dryer on high heat intentionally, but this was especially strange, even for me.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

Yeah. I put spinach and banana together in a muffin.

In my defense, though, I wasn’t the first or only person to think about doing this. Sometimes, my mind puts together some pretty unusual combinations of ingredients… but, in every case so far, a Google search has proved that someone else has put those ingredients together before in one form or another. So when I Googled “spinach and banana recipes,” I wasn’t surprised (okay, maybe I was, a little bit…) when I found a whole bunch of recipes for muffins containing both the leafy green and the super-sweet fruit.

Why was I Googling spinach and banana in the first place? Hmm. Well, I had big plans for spinach week… I was thinking of fancy frittatas, or spiffed-up-with-spinach grilled cheese sandwiches, or maybe spinach chips (like kale chips, but probably better, since spinach is amazing, and kale, for some reason, kind of freaks me out).

But it’s busy season at work (11- and sometimes 12-hour days!), and I really only have time to make one legit thing each week. And I had bananas on the counter that were seriously on their way out… so I already had plans to make banana nut muffins when spinach week came around. Aaand… I was not about to cancel those plans in favor of some spinach-dominated health food. So instead, I thought, “Is there any way I can put the spinach and banana together, and make something wonderful?”

Enter spinach-speckled banana-nut muffins.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

It’s pretty hard to explain the appeal of these… It’s weird, because I actually liked them, a lot, and I would definitely make them again, but NOT to replace a straight-up banana muffin. Almost every blogger that posted a recipe for spinach and banana muffins had the same claim… “I promise, you won’t taste the spinach! These taste EXACTLY like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin!” Well, imma burst some bubbles here: They don’t taste like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin. I don’t know if my spinach was especially flavorful, or if perhaps I was a little heavy-handed in my measuring out of said spinach… but I could definitely taste it in the muffin. Funny thing, though, is that I thought that was good!

I’ll apologize for being so bad at describing what the spinach adds to these guys… they just taste like a slightly… greener muffin? Yeah, I don’t know. All I know is they made a yummy breakfast for the four days they lasted. (Relax; there were only six muffins in the batch.)

Oh, and to burst one more bubble: Don’t make these thinking they’re “healthy” ’cause they have spinach in them… at least not as I made them. Really, they’re just muffins… normal, sugar-laden, sweet, and dense muffins. Everyone’s all like, “It’s so great to sneak greens into your baked goods!” But you’re getting, what, a fraction of an ounce of spinach per muffin? Negligible nutritional value. Sorry 😥 !

So. Best thing ever? Nope. Unique recipe worth trying? I sure think so. If you like both spinach and bananas, give these a shot!

Click here for the recipe!

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Caro: Chickpea (!!!) Fritters

Sigh.

Every time I think I’m done being stressed and I’ll have a couple of weeks of relative ease, something somewhere picks up and things go crazy all over again. So obviously, I’ve been trying to spend a fair amount of my free time with and around stuff that makes me happy. If you’d seen the enthusiasm I responded with when Lauren suggested chickpea week (which has passed, I know, I’m sorry 😦 ) for the blog, you’d know that chickpeas make me very, very happy.

In the interest of keeping this post positive and sharing some of my joy with all of you, here are a bunch of other things that make me happy:

  1. Falling asleep during a thunderstorm
  2. (Often irreverent yet amusing) Cyanide and Happiness comic strips
  3. Leaving the office for lunch on long days (and getting to eat at fun, new-to-me restaurants!)
  4. Splitting an almond right down the middle (It’s the little things!)
  5. Some of my most-loved R&B jams from the 90s
  6. My favorite music video, ever, of all time
  7. Sangría and champagne (not necessarily at the same time, though I don’t see how that could hurt)
  8. My favorite commercial from Superbowl XLVII (and my second favorite, too!)

Alright, now that some smiles have been smiled, let’s get back to chickpeas.

My love affair with the little legumes began with my stumbling upon this post by Molly Wizenberg on her blog Orangette (also known as my favorite [food] blog of all time). Molly can make anything sound beyond lovely, and while a meal of only chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cheese would in any other context have gone completely unnoticed by me, Molly’s writing sold me on it. I made it the day after reading the post, and now it is one of my top 3 lunch options on any given day. It’s perfect, especially when you take the time to find the best ingredients you can afford. It’s simple turned special 🙂 .

But it’s not what I made for chickpea week. I just wanted to tell you about it, in case you need a new favorite lunch. I went for something totally different, reminding myself that Cooking with Copy is supposed to be about trying new things and whatnot. I was worried I might be disappointed by my choice, fearing nothing could live up to my beloved five-ingredient chickpea salad… but I was WRONG! I made chickpea fritters, and they were AMAZING.

chickpea fritters

Amazing, like, I would call them the most delicious savory things to ever come out of my kitchen if it weren’t for that pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese I made and shamelessly devoured in November. So we’ll just have to call them the second-most-delicious. OMG, I don’t even know where to start with these. They’re like these adorable little chickpea patties, lightened up with the brightness of lemons and scallions, made even more flavorful by the addition of garlic and parsley (though the original recipe calls for rosemary). Oh, sorry, was all that not enough for you? Well, they’re also FRIED. So there. Try and say no to them now.

chickpea fritters

Haha, you can’t! And really, you shouldn’t. They’re a cinch to make, since you just have to roughly chop everything and toss it into a food processor, then form and fry the patties for a couple minutes. They end up all crispy and beautiful, and they manage to be light and filling at the same damn time, and they taste bright and fresh, and they’re just great. So really… get to it. Have them for dinner with some grilled chicken or steamed veggies, or eat them alone out of the pan while suffering mild burns from the hot oil, like I did… whatever. SO good!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocolatemintcookiesfinalChocolate and mint are our guests of honor this week. They’re a winning pair, a total classic, a sophisticated gem of a couple. And yet, I wasn’t that excited. This is probably because mint chips, those green chocolate chip look alikes, taste weird and kind of freak me out and because really, how could any chocolate-mint creation top the Thin Mint?

It’s difficult to be sure, and while these cookies do not outshine my Girl Scout cookies of yore, they are pretty awesome. They come from Joy the Baker and they do not disappoint. Perfectly fitting for a week filled with freezing, snowy days, these cookies are a little chilly and a lot chocolatey. Like A LOT. The best tip I have is to use my new favorite thing: Guittard Chocolate Chips (available at The Fresh Market and on Amazon). A thousand times better than anything by Ghirardelli or Nestlé, and so delicious I dare you not to eat them right out of the bag. If I can help it, I will never use anything else.

As per usual Joy writes a clear recipe but do beware of too much mint. Take only slight advantage of the surface tension of the measuring spoon and your cookies may veer a little closer to toothpaste-y than to something you want to intentionally ingest. Make sure to follow the baking time exactly too and you’ll have the perfect chewy-yet-not-undercooked cookie consistency, the one for which people eternally quest. I loved using only milk chocolate chips for this recipe but Joy uses a combination of chips, it could be delicious with dark chocolate too. Try it, let me know!

MAKE ME!

Joy’s recipe won because a) I’m lazy, and b) I had all the ingredients in my house. In a more ambitious mood these Chocolate Mint Wafer (sandwiches) from Martha Stewart would have won in a second.

Now get outside and play in the snow!

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Lauren: Quinoa, Spinach (no-Mac), and Cheese

quinoa and spinach macaroni and cheeseGuys. GUYS! I MADE A ROUX! Tonight I made a roux. It was pretty exciting. I stirred and stirred the butter and flour mixture, added the milk, kept stirring and then ALL OF A SUDDEN—IT WAS A SAUCE! All of this in honor of this week’s ingredient: spinach. Betcha didn’t see that one coming did ya?

When Caro and I were discussing this month’s ingredients a few weeks ago, we were sort of on a vegetable kick. Well, actually, never mind, you’ll see that dream die in about a week. Anyway, we were talking and came up with spinach. That was all well and good, I thought I’d make a salad or maybe the spinach-quinoa patties (like those for example) I keep seeing everywhere. Then. I saw. This.

Caro’s really into the blog Two Peas and their Pod. Remember her easy, customizable, no-bake granola bars from a few weeks ago? Those magical bars that can be modified to fit just about ANY taste? Mmmhmm, those are from Two Peas. When I saw her bars I had to check out the site and while I was there found this magical spinach creation and knew—it was happening.

Tonight it did. There isn’t much to say about this recipe except:

  • Don’t curdle the milk. Just don’t do it. Keep whisking.
  • It helps to have some already-cooked quinoa around. I assumed that a little under two cups of dry quinoa would yield the three cups of cooked quinoa the recipe called for. Um yeah, so I ended up with quinoa for eight. At least. Pre-cook some quinoa and measure out three cups of it while hydrated to avoid this problem.
  • I’m guessing my quinoa proliferation was the reason why once in the oven, the dish didn’t bubble in the recommended amount of time, apart from a few stray bubbles around the edges.
  • Don’t over bake the dish which FOR ONCE I didn’t do, because dry quinoa and cheese is a sad, sad thing.
  • This is not healthy. Just because it’s not pasta does not make it healthy. There is enough whole milk, cheese, and butter to kill at least five people. But I did throw in a bunch of spinach so let’s just pretend.

Now invite everyone over for this quinoa, spinach (no-mac), and cheese (which received rave reviews from my dining mates by the way) and prepare to be the most popular of all your friends.

And let’s be honest; using a cast iron skillet is half the fun.

Recipe here!

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Lauren: Caramelized-sesame chickpeas

sesamechickpeasIT’S CHICKPEA WEEK!!! How psyched are you? Yeah, for serious, cannot contain my excitement. Caro and I have been planning chickpea week, oh, since before this blog was even on our radar. We even have a DANCE about chickpeas for Pete’s sake! Don’t ask, just go with me here.

While I admit to having spent the past 15 minutes chipping garbanzo shrapnel off my pan and into every corner of the kitchen, I still implore you—MAKE THESE! There are sesame seeds and chickpeas, there is honey, they’re gluten free, they’re almost totally low-carb acceptable, they’re a little bit asian, they’re sweet without added sugar—they’re golden.

Let me explain how I found these little bits of magic.

Pinterest has been a regular haunt of mine lately and I have been “pinning” and “liking” up a storm. Everyone knows/thinks I like desserts but the thing is, I really kind of don’t. When I was little I was always one for cheese puffs over donut holes; I’d take savory over sweet any day. Now that I’m older, it seems to be happening again. Last weekend I went to St. louis, and for the first time frequented my favorite cupcake shop, and didn’t end up eating a single cupcake! I didn’t even want to eat them. I just kind of wanted to hoard them and look at them and maybe take the occasional sniff. But I had zero desire to eat them. WEIRD.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this recipe on Pinterest last week without even searching for chickpeas! It keeps with my effort to chill on the carbs since chickpeas, olive oil, and salt are totally ok (honey is another story but since most of it ends up burnt to the bottom of the pan anyway, I’m going to ignore it), it’s gluten-free (something I sometimes experiment with) and it has protein to keep you full—with some crunch! Nearly every salty snack that exists is packed with crap no one needs, so this is an ideal option. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s crunchy—just do it. DO IT! Just don’t eat them all at once (this is more of a note to myself) because about 1/4 cup of fully-hydrated chickpeas is one serving and they’re kind of high in calories for such a small amount.

sesamechickpeas2Anyway, are you ready for the deliciousness? Here we go.

The recipe came from the blog With Style and Grace. Aaand now (that I’ve just revisited the page) I see what would have saved me from the whole 15-minute chickpea-mining experience that just took place. PARCHMENT PAPER! Or a Silpat. The recipe is pretty self explanatory and easy-to-follow but there are a few notes besides the addition of my best friend, parchment paper.

  • Don’t burn your chickpeas. Once they’ve been roasting for around 25 minutes start watching them to ensure that they don’t shrivel into small bits of coal. The same goes for watching them during their second round in the oven after they’ve been covered in honey.
  • “Stirring” the chickpeas in the pan once they’ve been coated is nearly impossible. Try banging the sheet against the oven rack to free some of the peas, otherwise just ignore that part of the recipe—they turn out fine.
  • When the honey-ed chickpeas are finished, remove them from the pan IMMEDIATELY, or prepare to spend your afternoon as the archaeologist you never wanted to be.
  • The group of peas will fuse into one mass if placed in a bowl but fear not—lift the ball a few inches above where it sits in the bowl and just let it fall. It will break into smaller pieces. Repeat.
  • Know that if you do end up with a big, cement-like expanse of cooked honey on your sheet (if for instance you cook sans parchment paper and directly on the metal) simply run hot water over it instead of fighting it with a scrubby brush and dish soap, as it will dissolve in moments without any work!

Go. Make these now. Your 4 p.m. hunger will thank you.

For another gluten-free, lacy treat, check out these vegan florentines which look incredible.

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Caro: Easy, Customizable, No-Bake Granola Bars

Oats! I know to most this will probably seem like the single most boring ingredient we could have chosen to get people excited about a new year of food blogging, but I love oats, and I was totally super pumped when we picked them for our 2013 debut.

I’m pretty sure this is because, while my body is 22 years old, my self is actually grandma-aged. I have lots to back this up with.

For instance. Friday, I was out for happy hour with some friends, when some guy turned around and said he thought he’d spilled something on my shirt, which prompted my buddy from work to turn around and say, “What, you mean on that shirt my grandma also owns?” Uhh, mean. I defended my shirt, all like, “I think it’s cute, and it makes me look put-together for work, and I bought it at a hip young-people-clothes store, blah blah blah,” until some other guy backed me up (I think) by saying, “Yeah! It’s stylish in a practical and minimalist way,” which I didn’t completely understand but took as a compliment anyway.

I held on to that compliment as an odd form of assurance that my style is cool and age-appropriate, which was working out just fine for me until I got to work the next day and realized my 50- or 60-something-year-old manager and I were wearing the same. exact. pair of shoes. What?! Old lady. It’s who I am.

Stuff like this happens to me all the time. I dress like a grandma (or so I hear from people I’m pretty sure are at least 70% wrong). I love, love, LOVE soup. Especially split pea. I watch TV Land shows… on DVD (as in, I pay for them). Yep.

So anyway, now you know all this stuff about my old soul or whatever, all in my attempt to justify my love for oats. I love em. Oats week is exciting.

It’s funny that Lauren mentioned Joy the Baker, ’cause the first thing I thought to make as I penned oats week onto my calendar was my favorite riff on her baked oatmeal. I take her recipe, dial up the cinnamon, and trade the dried cranberries, fresh raspberries, and pistachios for fresh strawberries and cacao nibs. It’s seriously delicious. It’s the kind of breakfast I dream dreamy dreams about. But my oven decided it was not going to turn on on my designated baking day.

So no-bake it had to be… and suitable for breakfast, since I wanted to actually be able to eat what I made (instead of ending up with 47 oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies to force-feed my coworkers). Granola bars were the perfect back-up plan.

peanut-butter-pretzel-chocolate-chip granola bars

When your camera’s been broken for months, you have nothing to offer people but subpar artsy iPhone pictures. Better than nothing!

Two Peas and Their Pod was the source of the recipe that won my no-bake granola bar search. I usually mess with recipes to suit my tastes, but I pretty much went with this one to the letter, except that I tossed in some cacao nibs. (I’m obsessed with them.) Like a lot of other recipes, this one’s expensive the first time around if you don’t have the right ingredients on hand… but the good news is that once you buy the ingredients, you can make a whole buncha batches without having to buy anything else. So I won’t be one of those people who tries to tell you making your own granola bars is cheaper than investing in a $2.50 box of Nature Valleys at the grocery store, but I will tell you that over time the cost pretty much evens out, and if you make your own bars at home, you have the added benefit of putting whatever you want in them!!!

And, on that note, the beauty of this recipe is its customizability. Allergic to peanut butter? Almond butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella. Don’t like pretzels? Corn flakes, nut of choice, potato chips. Chocolate chips too boring? Cinnamon chips, toffee bits, sprinkles?! Ok, fine, sprinkles in a granola bar may be weird. But you get my point. Make this the granola bar of your dreams!

By the way, these are much better than any store-bought granola bar I’ve had. I could just be biased… but I have my parents on my side, and they dislike most of what I make, so I’m going to guess it’s just that these are actually super yummy. And they’re easy, quick, and customizable, so there’s not much of an excuse for settling for the boxed variety. I’d much rather take the time to make my own & adapt ’em to whatever I’m in the mood for in a given week. In other words, these’ll be a repeat creation in my kitchen. I hope you try them and feel the same way!

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Three cheers for granola bars. The breakfast of champions.

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Maple, white chocolate, and cherry oatmeal cookies

oatmeal-cherry-maplecookies

Happy New Year! In honor of winter/a year ending in 13/my sister’s surgery/it being Tuesday, I made cookies. This should surprise exactly no one. In case it’s difficult to figure out the ingredient of the week with my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink post title, it’s oats! The theme was chosen with this recipe in mind. I realize this might seem weird. Oats? How boring can we be? Answer: pretty boring. Do I even like white chocolate? No. What about real-deal maple syrup? Negative. Cherries? Chyeah I could eat a whole bag! Buuut in with all this other stuff? Skeptical. They looked so perfectly golden and chewy on Joy’s website though that I just couldn’t resist! They had to be made!

Now, baking is most fun when there is someone around to feed or there is an event for which to prepare food. Christmas was a prime example. I must have made and gifted these Valrhona dark chocolate and orange buttermilk scones 15 times. Every single time the recipient demanded the recipe; if only I could take credit for it! Anyway that whole exercise only fueled my newfound love of the Joy the Baker blog and cookbook…her podcast is another story entirely. Translation: I’ve been checking her blog with the ferocity of a crack addict hoping for inspiration for my latest food project.

Well last week that certainly happened. My sister, Meredith slept over at our house the night before her surgery. An extra house guest and a new recipe from Joy? “What a coincidence,” I thought, “I’ll bake!” This recipe made SO MANY COOKIES. Holy moly I could have fed a small nation. Instead of solving hunger in Papua New Guinea, we had a dinner of cookies while watching The Magic of Belle Isle (totally random but cute) and attempted to stuff Meredith with as many cookies as possible prior her midnight pre-surgery eating and drinking cut-off.

These dreamy wheels of oatmeal and maple were a big hit with my family, my dad’s coworkers, and my friends. Confession: I’ve actually made them twice in the span of 11 days. Yep I’m an addict.

Recipe: Joy the Baker’s Maple, White Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Notes:

  • No one was a fan of white chocolate at the outset so I inserted just a few shards of it into a couple dough balls prior to baking. After baking, my nay-saying family remarked that they actually liked the white chocolate and that it acted almost like goat cheese-a savory balance to the sweet.
  • I thought the cinnamon was the delightful aroma radiating from the cookies but Meredith and my mom thought it was the maple that really shone through. Whatever it was, the scent of this cookie acted like smell-fingers in a cartoon pulling in anyone within a 10 ft. radius. So good. But if you made any sugar/dessert/health-related resolutions DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE! You’ll end up having cookies for dinner. Several. nights. in a row.
  • The dough didn’t turn golden until they’d been in the oven—and my oven overheats—for around 13 minutes, I have no idea how Joy’s were ready after 10.
  • I’d use a cup or more of cherries instead of Joy’s 3/4 cup because their tartness and chew provide a nice counterpoint to the sugary, crumbly base. And if you’re wondering why you don’t see chocolate peeking out of my cookie stack, it’s because the second time I made these I left the chocolate out entirely. It was not missed.
  • These are super easy and are great for feeding a large group since one recipe yields 2+ dozen cookies.

Ok I’m going to resume stalking Joy’s blog now. Happy 2013 and welcome back to the Copy Kitchens, we’re so excited you’re here!

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Lauren: Valrhona Dark Chocolate and Orange Buttermilk Scones

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Holy crap guys, these are good. They’re “I-made-them-twice-in-the-span-of-three-days” good. And I’ve been wondering why my pants have been so squeezy lately. I blame the scones. This photo doesn’t even do them justice.

As soon as I found these on Joy’s website it was all over. Orange is kinda tricky. The thought of baked citrus never sounds very appealing, and yet sometimes I seek it out. I can’t figure out what makes some goodies sound lame while others amazing. These fall into the latter category. I went to The Fresh Market for my ingredients and as soon as I walked in I nearly walked into the display of Valrhona bricks and disks. Hellooooo chocolate. Valrhona chocolate keeps popping up in the recipes I want to make but I can never find the stuff in stores. I don’t need to tell you that I bought 2 bricks and a box of disks. The stuff doesn’t disappoint. Well, anything besides your bank account anyway.

Making these grand pillows of English deliciousness is easy. Throw half the ingredients into a bowl and sift, throw the other half into a liquid measuring cup and eventually combine them. YOU DON’T EVEN NEED A MIXER! Bonus: (and this is what really did it for me) you can knead the mixture IN THE LARGE MIXING BOWL! Do you hear me people?! You don’t even need to dirty a surface with flour and raw egg remnants or worry about what little bits of fuzz and crumbs and other things lurking in your kitchen are making their way into your dough. It can all be neatly contained inside your mixing bowl. Serve them with butter or jam and you’ll be loved forever. Promise.

They’re so easy to whip up that I plan to make a batch before each of our imminent wintertime house guests arrive, to have on hand for breakfast. They take less than an hour to make and are even better right out of the oven, if you want to wait until the day of.

I hope your Thanksgivings went well and that you eat a lot of scones and cookies and other foods that make the season what it is over the next few weeks. Elastic pants on. GO!

P.S. in an effort to curb my scone obsession I’ve been drinking a lot of tea in the hopes that it will fill the seemingly-endless void that is my stomach and Tazo Wild Sweet Orange is my JAM, man! And it’s pretty awesome with the orange in the pastry. Love.

DON’T THESE JUST LOOK LIKE THE BEST THINGS EVER? Recipe: here.

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Lauren: Kale and Pomegranate Salad

WHO’S READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?! Well you can’t be; not until you’ve tried this kale and pomegranate salad. You get an aril! And you get an aril! See how excited I am about this bowl o’ red and green? And it’s for good reason! Pomegranates are delicious and beautiful fruits. They are also the namesake of the picturesque Spanish town in which my brother studied abroad (and yes, he chose it because he liked the fruit), see Granada. Anyway, back to business.

The edible parts of a pomegranate are its jewel-like seeds called arils. The outside of each seed is juicy and rigidly holds its form unlike another juicy fruit like say, an orange, which will squirt you in the eye at every opportunity. Once you’ve bitten through the juice, you hit the hard seed but fear not, because it will break into bits upon chewing. Arils are completely addictive and after de-seeding my first pom of the season I proceeded to eat the entire fruit’s worth of seeds in one standing just because they’re so fun to chomp. So given how fresh this fruit is, I wanted to make either a fruit or regular salad to highlight and compliment its freshness, not diminish it or dry it out by baking into cookies or something.

Enter: daily waffle’s Kale, Asian Pear, and Pomegranate Salad. It is awesome. You know what was not awesome? My Asian pear. It was watery, had zero flavor, and was so hard it was difficult to chew. Thus, immediately after trying a piece I chucked that sucker into the trash and decided to move forward with the recipe anyway, despite how wonderful the addition of pear to a kale salad sounded. If you’re up for it, buy a bosc, comice, or other ripe pear and cut that up to use in place of the Asian pear. Unless of course your Asian-pear-picking skills are fabulous, then by all means make the recipe as it is written.

Ok, so the dressing is really easy, just whisk all the ingredients together and you’re good to go. I found the early step of massaging salt into the dry leaves completely pointless as it just falls to the bottom so just forget that. And as usual, I used curly instead of lacinato kale again due to my bug aversion. Last week I found a tiny, very-much-alive slug on the back of one of my lacinato leaves and that was the end of that. My substitution involves somewhat OCD washing* of the curly leaves, followed by roughly ripping them into smaller pieces and drying them. After the leaves are ready and the dressing is mixed, do as you did with the last kale salad and get in there with your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves and ensure an even coating. When you’re ready to serve, pretend it’s New Years Eve and liberally cover the salad greens in aril-confetti.

The salad is dressed for the season, tastes quite unique among kale salads thanks to the rice wine vinegar and ginger, lasts about two days after being dressed so it can be made ahead of the holiday madness, and provides a truly healthy and fresh counterpoint to all the heavy, baked food being shoved in your face this time of year. Now go out, buy some kale and pomegranate, and prepare for an onslaught of compliments on your tasty and holiday-color-appropriate salad-making skills.

Recipe!

*I like to wash each individual leaf, rip them off the stems/away from the tough inner-vein, then swish the leaves around in a water-filled bowl, and finish by drying the leaves in a salad spinner.

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