Tart Cherry + Dark Chocolate Scones

pretty things on cake plates

pretty things on a pretty cake plate

For the first six weeks of the year — deep the doldrums of winter — I spend a substantial amount of time wondering why I ever traded endless summer in LA for grey day after grey day, snowstorm after seemingly perpetual snowstorm.

It has gotten more difficult to tear myself from my cozy flannel sheets every morning. Sleep at night is fitful at best, I hit my snooze button no fewer than six times instead of my normal (and appropriate) two or three. I feel like a skeletal, pencil cartoon of myself walking around with a giant thundercloud over my head. I don’t like myself all that much and I can’t imagine I’m all that fun to be around.

Then, one day, brilliant sunshine breaks through the clouds and everything pivots. The snow starts to puddle and the frozen block in which my heart has been contained for the last few months starts melting, making room for the newness that comes with spring. I feel the light seeping back in, frenetic energy dissipating. My parent’s black lab showers me the only way he knows how – with unconditional love. I find the energy to turn that love into my favorite pastry, filling the house and my heart with happy aromas of my favorite bakery in my favorite place on earth. `

Tart Cherry + Dark Chocolate Scones (inspiration drawn from the Nantucket Bake Shop; recipe adapted from Epicurious)

2 cups flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled + diced

2/3 cup buttermilk, chilled

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped

2-3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients — flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and mix together until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Whisk together buttermilk, egg yolk, and vanilla extract; add wet ingredients to dry ingredient and bring ingredients together with a fork to form a loose dough. Add chocolate chips and cherries, kneading to incorporate.

Gather dough into a ball and press out into a flat round on a lightly floured countertop. Using a biscuit cutter or upside-down drinking glass, cut out scones. Repeat with excess dough until everything is used. Place scones on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Best served piping hot out of the oven, no accoutrements needed.

Caramel Popcorn Bars

caramel popcorn crack

caramel popcorn crack

Popcorn — I’m talking stovetop popcorn here, get that microwaved nonsense out of my face* — is a severely underrated snack.

It’s quick and easy to make, (relatively) healthy, cost-effective, and versatile. All it takes is a pot, olive oil, kernels, kosher salt, and a bowl. Hella impressive sorcery right there.

My dad is the popcorn master. He instilled in us a love for the snack very early on, and continues to make a massive batch of it every time we’re home whether it’s for a movie marathon or football playoffs. It doesn’t matter if two or five of us are home, the quantity of popcorn rarely varies and the bowl always, always disappears in a matter of minutes.

Generally, I like my snacks to hit both sweet and salty notes so these caramel popcorn bars are right in my wheelhouse. Elevate your party snacks, bring leftovers to work, and bask in your baking prowess.

*While I think the world would be a better place if microwaved popcorn disappeared entirely, Tinder prospects take note: you best be prepared to share popcorn with me on a movie date. No butter. Also, something chocolate.

Caramel Popcorn Bars (adapted from Shutterbean)

cooking spray

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

3-4 cups pretzels, roughly chopped

1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped

1 cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt, + more for sprinkling

2/3 cup mini marshmallows

Spray a glass pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large pot (preferably one with two handles), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add popcorn kernels and cover with a lid. Using oven mitts, swirl popcorn around periodically until kernels begin to pop. Leave covered over the heat until popping slows down, approximately 2 minutes. Carefully remove the lid to let the steam out. Put popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.

Add pretzels, almonds, and chocolate chips to bowl with popcorn. Toss together until mixed evenly.

Add sugar, water, and salt to a large saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until caramel forms. Watch closely — while a watched pot never boils, boiling sugar will turn quickly to molasses if not monitored (I did this).

Remove pan from the stovetop and slowly add cream – the caramel will bubble up and nearly overflow. When the caramel settles, add marshmallows and stir until melted.

Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray. Pour caramel over the bowl of salty snacks and toss together with spatula until evenly coated. Dampen your hands with water and transfer the popcorn to glass dish. Press popcorn into the pan and sprinkle with additional kosher salt. Allow to cool before you cut into squares. Try to save some for your friends (it’s difficult).

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

the perfect banana bread

the perfect banana bread

If my dad’s pancakes are emblematic of childhood Saturday mornings donning an A+ bed-head and cozy slippers at the breakfast table, then my mom’s banana bread will always propel me back to those school days when I was an angsty pre-teen and never wanted to wake up.

[I’d like to think that I wasn’t actually all that angsty of a 13-year old and I always jumped out of bed when my mom came to wake me up in the morning. I also feel like that’s probably not the case, but I’ll leave that up to her to recall (…Mama?).]

Getting out of bed aside, weekday breakfast for the elementary + middle school Taylor girls varied between cereal + fruit, hot cereal or oatmeal, and hard boiled eggs + banana bread on special occasions. Leaving the house without eating breakfast was non-negotiable, a habit that has (luckily) carried over into adulthood. The hard boiled eggs + banana bread days were my favorite.

Most of my friends know how much I abhor bananas. The texture, the aftertaste, and the sound bananas make while chewing are like nails on a chalkboard for me. Want to torture me? Stick me in a car with someone eating a banana. Yes, yes, I know about the nutritional benefits but everyone has their thing, and bananas are mine.

Banana bread, though, is a completely different story. I could eat an entire loaf of this thing without pause. I don’t know if it’s because of nostalgia or what, but this bread hardly tastes banana-y and is just the perfect amount of sweetness for pre-breakfast, second lunch, afternoon snack, or midnight dinner, and all meals in between. I throw chocolate chips in because it’s a fact that mini kisses of chocolate make everything 100000x better. Also, adulthood.

My favorite part of this recipe by far, however, is the cookbook in which it lives. When I scan the cookbook shelf at my parents’ house, I can hone in on the red-and-white grid cover immediately. It opens right to this recipe, the page stained with 26+ years of grease and use, caked with flour and love. It’s fun to think about my mom baking in the early morning hours prior to school while visions of breakfast danced in our heads.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3/4 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

3 large ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf tin or bundt pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat eggs into butter + sugar mixture one at a time. Add vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Sift flour into wet ingredients until just incorporated. Add bananas and mix thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Slice and serve alongside milky tea or strong coffee.

Peanut Butter Cookies

peanut buttery-ness

peanut buttery-ness

For a self-proclaimed sweet-tooth, I’m rather particular about my desserts. I hardly ever order dessert at a restaurant, I never prefer candy, and most of the time I pass up sweets in the office unless I brought them in. I can be found eating dessert in one of two ways: 1) my sisters swirling slightly too much whipped cream directly into my mouth only to snort it out ten seconds later because one of them made me laugh, or 2) standing next to the oven shoveling too-hot, barely baked cookies into my mouth and subsequently burning all nerves into oblivion.

These cookies were born out of a momentary panic on Sunday when with an exclamation of “AHH I have nothing to take to my friends apartment when we go watch the Giants game in 30 minutes!” followed closely by a “UGH I don’t have any chocolate chips to make their favorite blondies!” After staring into my cupboard for .4 seconds, I grabbed the jar of peanut butter hoping I’d be inspired through osmosis. Then, Hark! I remembered that my sister, who has a [strange] aversion to chocolate, made these recently and they were devoured seconds upon removal from the oven.

The peanut butter cookies here bake up rather quickly. In fact, I like to take them out a minute or two prior to the suggested baking time so they retain their chewiness. I have great visions of stacking these little guys up in cellophane bags and tying them off with über-atumnul ribbon to dole out to unsuspecting friends on a rainy fall day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted slightly from Joy of Cooking, via Disgustingly Good)

1/3 cup (5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2-3 tablespoons sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line 2-3 baking sheets and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add egg, vanilla, and peanut butter and mix thoroughly until combined. Stir in baking soda and flour until a dough forms.

Scoop the cookie dough out in 1-inch rounds and place them on a baking sheet approximately 2-inches apart. Press dough with a fork twice — once each way — to achieve that “classic” peanut butter cookie aesthetic. If desired, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each cookie.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Do your best not to singe your taste buds.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

chia goodness

chia goodness

Like most 90s kids, I most closely associate chia seeds with this. Spread some chia seeds on this terra cotta animal and violà! Your very own [creepy] grass pet. I happened to be partial to Beanie Babies, but hey, if you’re in to that thing, to each her own.

Chia seeds are the new black in New York right now. I’ve seen them in salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and yoghurt. They boast benefits such as enhanced hydration, lower blood pressure, reduced food cravings, and Omega-3 potency. If they spill on your counter, you might freak out and think they’re little bugs. Generally, though, they are a great enhancement to your everyday snack.

After about a month of living on the chia pudding from Liquiteria, it dawned on me that this was simple enough to create at home and has since become my favorite post-workout snack. It’s a super-easy, one-bowl recipe and could also be a great breakfast (with some granola for the Crunch Factor!) or healthier dessert. Added bonus: the flavor profile will impress the hell out of your friends.

Vanilla Chia Pudding (adapted from Giada)

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup plain Greek yoghurt

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup berries (optional)

Whisk together almond milk, yoghurt, maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of the kosher salt in a medium bowl until just combined. Whisk in the chia seeds and let the mixture stand for approximately 30 minutes. If seeds have settled, stir to redistribute. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The following day, stir the pudding and taste. If you’d like it to be a bit sweeter, add a tablespoon of maple syrup at a time to reach desired sweetness. Spoon pudding into a bowl and top with your preferred accoutrements – sliced almonds and raspberries are my favorite. Serve and enjoy! Pudding will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Summer Street Corn

summer perfection

summer perfection


You get the picture.

Sure, this kind of zeal is probably irritating to people who aren’t intimately involved with the Taylors, but I live for this enthusiasm. It has contributed to the highest highs and lifted me up from the lowest lows in my life. It’s the kind of passion that has the power to permeate a deflated spirit that comes with the most terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

The passion shows through in my family’s cooking. Not in a corny way like I cry into a soup and everyone in the restaurant cries too, but I really love watching people eat food I prepare for them especially if it’s a group who makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I spent the weekend cooking up a storm with my mom and we made an awesome menu comprised of this corn, fish tacos, papas fritas, and a banging kale salad. It was, if I do say so myself, the BEST MEAL EVER (or at least, of the summer thus far).

This street corn is a riff off of my sister’s favorite corn from a restaurant in Nantucket. Unfortunately, she missed it this time, but #humblebrag, I think it’s better than the restaurant version. It’s going to become a staple in repertoire and I see myself making it every time I have access to a grill this summer.

Summer Street Corn (adapted from Saveur)

6 large ears corn, with husks still attached

1 cup ricotta salata, grated

for the crema

2 cups mayonnaise

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons vinegar from jalepeños en escabeche

salt & pepper to taste Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Fill a large bowl or pot with water. With the husks still attached, place ears of corn in water and soak for 30 minutes. While you soak the corn, make the crema. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, ketchup, vinegar from the japeleños en escabeche until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove corn from water. Place corn on the grill for approximately 10 minutes. Remove ears of corn and peel back the husks one layer at a time, keeping the husks intact. Remove the silk and discard. Brush each ear of corn liberally with the crema. Transfer corn to grill to cook, turning occasionally. Grill corn for approximately 20 minutes until charred and cooked through. Sprinkle grated cheese directly on the warm corn and allow to melt. Best served alongside a massive margarita.

{Double Batch} Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries + Cream

leaning tower of goodness

leaning tower of goodness

For those keeping score, it is not warm yet in NYC.


As we wait ever so patiently (read: not patiently at all) for the longest winter ever to come to a close, the days of the week are getting curiouser and curiouser. They’ve been plagued with stomach bugs, workdays when you feel like you just can’t win, disappointing conversations, and harsh, reality-busting realizations. Luckily, the days have been conversely peppered with personal productivity, international travel plans, 30 Rock marathons, and insanely late weeknights traipsing around Manhattan because adulthood and #yolo.

After a weekend of both low lows and high highs, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the week than with a sweet and simple cake. The original recipe calls for the addition of cocoa powder to the batter, but I don’t prefer chocolate cake so I eliminated that element and added chocolate chips instead (Molly made the real version!). This cake is a really easy crowd pleaser (ask anyone in my office, they reaped the benefits of my Monday night baking), and is just as good completely plain as it is with strawberries and cream. It also makes for a great dessert, or even breakfast with coffee. AND it’s vegan if you sub the whipped cream for coconut cream.

Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries + Cream (adapted from Shutterbean)

for the cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 cup olive oil*

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups cold water

1 1/2-2 cups mini chocolate chips

for the filling

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups strawberries, sliced

*I enjoy the depth olive oil brings to a cake. For a more subtle flavor, sub in vegetable oil. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 cake pans and set aside. If you don’t have a cake pans (like me for some odd reason), a square, rimmed pan works as well, and you can slice out individual cake squares that way.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt and sir until mixed thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add olive oil, vanilla extract, vinegar, and water. Using a whisk or a wooden spoon (guess who doesn’t have a whisk in their apartment?! This girl. #amateurhour), mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until a smooth batter is formed. Fold in chocolate chips until consistent throughout.

Pour the batter into the cake pans or square pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, whip heavy cream into soft peaks in a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla until incorporated and slightly stiff.

If your cakes are round, slice the domed top off one of the cakes to make a flat surface and place on a serving tray. Top with whipped cream and place a layer of strawberries on top. Top these layers with the second cake round, add whipped cream and strawberries. Slice and serve.

If your cake was baked in a square pan, slice the cake like you would a lasagna. Split the square in half, add whipped cream and strawberries, top with other half. Add extra strawberries and whipped cream to the top. Proceed to inhale.

handful. it's a technical term.

handful. it’s a technical term.

{Double Batch} Garlic Flatbread with Spicy Spinach Pesto + Leeks

garlicky flatbread

springy, garlicky flatbread

Last week, I traveled to Antigua with my family and basked in the 85 degree sunshine, splashed in the sparkling blue Caribbean, and drank the water straight from freshly-fallen coconuts. It was beautiful and restorative and just what I needed after a crazy couple of months. As they would say in Australia, not soz.

Reentry, however, especially reentry to New York City, is always tough. The 35-degree winds and grey skies smacked me back into reality quite quickly. Look, I know Phil saw his shadow and all, but it has been six weeks since Groundhog Day and I’d like to know where the heck spring is hiding. In an effort to coax the spring out of said hiding place, Molly and I made this springy flatbread for you!

Garlic Flatbread with Spicy Spinach Pesto + Leeks (adapted from Dolly and Oatmeal)

for the flatbread

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

for the pesto

2 cups spinach

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme (fresh or dried)

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice from half a lemon

a few cranks of ground pepper

for the leeks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch of leeks, sliced

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda and mix with a fork. Add egg, olive oil, and garlic and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet and press the dough until flattened — don’t worry about an oblong shape, it will still taste delicious! Cook for 15-20 minutes.

While the flatbread is in the oven, make the pesto. Put spinach, red pepper flakes, salt, thyme, pine nuts, lemon juice, and pepper in a blender or a food processor and pulse a few times. Taste the pesto and add salt, pepper, or lemon to taste if you feel like something is missing.

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and pinch of salt, stirring occasionally until brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.

Take the flatbread out of the oven and layer the pesto on top, leaving a bit of an edge. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes. When done, top the flatbread with the caramelized leeks. Serve immediately.

super green pesto

super green pesto

Almond-Pistachio Granola

topped with berries and a splash of coconut almond milk

topped with berries and a splash of coconut almond milk

I’m lucky enough to live four blocks away from two of my closest friends. We try to see each other as much as possible, whether it’s to walk in Central Park, try a new restaurant, attend book club, celebrate a birthday, or binge watch House of Cards. We went to their apartment last weekend to watch the Oscars and knowing they were planning to host upwards of ten people, I asked what I could bring. They protested and told me not to be silly, so I threw together a big batch of this Almond-Pistachio Granola and brought it anyway. The Nutty Maple Cinnamon Granola I made last year remains my favorite, but I had all of these ingredients on hand the time to let it get all golden and good while I caught up on Dallas Buyer’s Club before the awards.

If you’re stuck inside for the umpteenth freezing day in a row this weekend and want to taunt your neighbors with the smell of roasting oats and nuts, throw this in the oven on low and be the envy of your entire neighborhood.

Almond-Pistachio Granola

4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

3/4 cup pistachios, shelled & roughly chopped

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

splash of vanilla extract

2 tablespoon flax seeds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Lightly spray two edged, glass dishes with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pistachios, pecans, coconut, olive oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until ingredients glisten from the oil. Add flax seeds, sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, and salt, toss until fully combined.

Divide granola between the two dishes and spread evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5-2 hours, tossing every 20-30 minutes until granola is deeply golden and you can smell it from a mile away. Let cool completely on cooling rack or top of stove before enjoying. Use for party favors, make for a host gift, eat for weekday breakfasts, or have handy for hangover snacks.

{Double Batch} Brussels Sprouts Salad

blubs of beaty

bulbs of beauty

Growing up, our after-school dinners were always well-balanced: protein, salad or vegetable, starch, and fruit for dessert (or black & white milkshakes for special occasions). While I don’t necessarily recall the details of each of those meals, I do remember that the solitary instance in which my mom made brussels sprouts was not that well-received. The four (at the time) little Taylor girls were not keen on eating bright green globes that grow on weird looking stalks. Also, the name just sounds weird.

Today, brussels sprouts are the new kale. They’re popping up on menus everywhere, and I’ve recently taken to ordering a side of them every time I go out to eat. I like when they’re slightly charred, filled with crispy parts (the leaves turn into crispy chips, kind of like kale), and drenched in balsamic vinegar. As much as I enjoy them, I always find myself wanting for a bit more or less of just one aspect of these little green bulbs — more crispy pieces, less balsamic, not cooked as long.

Enter this salad and behold the power of raw brussels sprouts. Prior to talking to Molly about this salad, I hadn’t given much thought to making a salad made entirely of brussels sprouts, but I’m a convert. I almost prefer this way of eating them — who knew! It’s simple and packs a deeply flavorful punch. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from Shutterbean)

12-15 brussels sprouts, shredded

1/2 cup Parmigano-Reggiano cheese, grated

1/4 cup whole almonds, toasted + roughly chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

salt & pepper to taste

Fill a large mixing bowl with water. Chop ends off of the brussels sprouts and put them in bowl, allow to soak for a few minutes. In a small pan, toast almonds until they’re slightly darker and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Allow almonds to cool for 1-2 minutes, then roughly chop.

Drain brussels sprouts and dry on a clean dish towel. Using a large knife (or food processor if you’re fancy like that), chop/shred brussels sprouts. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar,whole grain mustard, and salt & pepper. Mix with a whisk or fork until combined.

Toss brussels sprouts, grated cheese, and almonds in a bowl. Add dressing and stir thoroughly. Enjoy immediately!

my new go-to salad

my new go-to salad