Saturday, March 24, 2012

savory cornmeal pancakes


Over these last few weeks, I've made a plethora of goodies. Goodies that had little photoshoots with my Sony. The same Sony that I can't find the adapter of. So I can't upload the pictures. This was a huge disappointment.  Here's a list of all the things I've made.

  • Pepperjack Popovers
  • Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
  • Blueberry Muffins
  • Pumpkin Bread with a Cream Cheese Swirl 
  • Cheddar-Herb Quickbread 
  • Corn Muffins 

All of these were so good! Hopefully, I can find my stupid adapter that LOVES to play hide and seek with me soon. Boo. Meanwhile, I have these amazing cornmeal pancakes I made today. Using my noggin, I decided to take these with my phone. Instagram, thank you for saving these odd lighted pictures. I love you.


I never considered myself a chef. At most, I was an amateur baker. At my lowest points, I was a carblovin' teenager with a clunky camera. I usually leave the cooking to my mom, who is an amazing cook. She can whip up delicious, improv meals from anything. It's siiiick, to say the least. But, when I am home alone, hungry, and left with no leftovers, I love to experiment. Mac and cheese from scratch. Quinoa with a cheese sauce. Quinoa with zucchini and Italian sausage. Fried rice balls.

This time, I had a  practically full sack of cornmeal that I bought for corn muffins just sitting in my pantry.  I settled on cornmeal pancakes because I wanted to try to cook with cornmeal. I opted to make these savory but you can easily turn them into a sweet breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Just add some vanilla and drizzle with maple syrup or honey. ALSO, hi vegans! These are for you! I added some sour cream because I wanted to be risky but omit that. Use 1/4 cup of any milk subsitute and you are set.


Savory Cornmeal Pancakes with Carmelized Onions
adapted from Mark Bittman
Serves 1-2

3/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
scant 1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp (+ more for serving) sour cream
1 large onion
cherry tomatoes
ground pepper

Slice an onion thinly. Heat up a thickbottomed pan (I used a glass pot) and coat it with olive oil. And follow these instructions.

While the onions are getting delicious, put the cornmeal, salt, and boiling water in one bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes.

Stir in the milk slowly until it is thick but spreadable. Add the sour cream and oil and stir to combine.

Heat up a griddle or cast iron pan. Follow the best instructions for making pancakes. I never use the conventional way because it just don't work for me. I always keep it at medium heat because the pan always spurts oil and becomes a hot, scary mess. Follow Mark Bittman's instructions, unless you're like me.

when the pancakes are done, put them on a paper towel over the plate. You don't have to but I like to. Your onions should be a nice light brown. If you want to caramelize them even further, feel free too. I like them with a crunch. To serve, top the pancakes with the onions, a dollop of sour cream, and sliced cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Dig in! Take a forkful of all the elements and swoon. Happy eating!

Friday, March 9, 2012

a crisp and THE college


I think I have found my dream university. To be honest, this prestigious college was never on my top three list. However, after visiting the campus, breathing in the woodsy air and walking amongst the bundled up students, it just felt right. For the longest time, I thought that an urban college with a small campus surrounded by the greatest city in the country, also known as Manhattan, would be the best fit for me. Then, reality settled in and a variety of factors bothered me. Soon after, I visited the campus of the rural school. It's seriously beautiful, vast, and lush with thick trees. The only downside would be the intensely frigid weather. Then, as I baked some Nutella chocolate chip cookies for my friend and her mother who brought me to this campus, I realized that cold weather means a desire for warmth. A desire for warmth means turning on the oven. Turning on the oven means more baked goods. Yes. More baked goods. Sounds good to me.


My dream college reminds me of this crisp. Homey and rustic. I dunno how to explain it but they just go hand in hand. Rural colleges and rustic desserts. Now, about this pear cranberry crisp. It was my very first crisp. I never tasted nor baked a crisp before. As I took my second bite, I asked myself why I never did. It was sinfully easy; I'll be making this again, very, very soon.


Pear and Cranberry Crisp
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

5 Bosc pears
3/4 cup of dried cranberries
scant 2/3 cup raw or granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
scant 1/3 cup raw or granulated sugar
1/3 packed light brown sugar
heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted

Peel, core, and dice the pears. This took me a whiiiiilllle. I'm slow; I apologize. Mix with the cranberries, sugar, and salt. Set aside

Combine the flour, two sugars, cinnamon, and oats together. Add in the melted butter and mix.

Pour the fruit mixture into an 8x8 baking dish. Top with topping and bake for 30-50 minutes until the juices are bubbling. Cool and dig in.

Notes: I would just dial down the sugar even more. Also, I would like to read the recipe correctly... I read "pecans" as "oats" and it wasn't until I put the dish in the oven when I realized it said pecans. Oats are good too. Really good, actually. The cranberries plump up with the pear juice. There's no doubt that I'm making this again. And again. And again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

blogging with a guilty conscience


What's on your desk right now? Wait, no. Be honest. I'll be honest. I have two laptops. A package of Trader Joe's unsulfured, sweetened, dried mango. A cup of cold date tea. An Inception DVD. Six historical books, focusing on either a) Irish secret societies b) machine politics or c) the Irish exodus. Not a single pleasure read on my desk. They're all chilling just a few feet a way. I can hear them whisper (or maybe it's my lack of sleep talking to me), "Nicole, hey, Nicole. Put down that boring book. And pick me up. Crack open my spine! I can still crack! You didn't finish me yet." The Picture of Dorian Gray says those words. He's needy.

And I need sleep. And cookies. This week is going to be nuts. Nuts, as in, no-time-to-breath, nuts. Not I-met-a-cute-boy-and-we're-hanging-out nuts. Or I'm-baking-cookies-all-week nuts. Or walnuts, pistachio nuts, and peanuts. No, as in, back-to-back-semi/very-scholarly-events. Superb.

I still have work to do, guys. And yet. I'm blogging. Okay, moving on. (My conscience is catching up to me! This post will be short.)



with Nutella,


with semisweet chocolate chips,


and smeared with more Nutella.

Um, do you need anything else when a chocolate craving hits? I don't! Have a splendid week! Recipe here. No real notes today. I followed the recipe word for word and I baked them a tad longer because my cookies were bigger.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{ excursion } NoHo, SoHo, and caffeine jolts

1. friend's adorable shit tzu - 2. style stalking in Washington Square Park - 3. Sur La Table's Nespresso machine - 4. cute cup, disgusting coffee - 5. SLT's colorful whisk! - 6. sale items that were too unwieldy to carry around the city (sigh) - 7. street artist - 8. man style stalking; navy blue top and bottom, gold chain, loafers - 9. the Crate & Barrel of SoHo - 10. aroma - 11. iced latte, before it was stirred - 12. stirred, along side a frozen coffee drink and brown sugar packets - 13. friend! - 14. see me? - 15. future food blogger? - 16. so dirty. - 17. amazing store with amazing things but even with the discount, the shit was too expensive for, us, students! - 18. Paris Baguette's chocolate twisty thing that is so delicious - 19. kate moss, da queen - 20. hi, again!

I'm so lucky to have a friend who just likes to walk around the city, taking pictures, talking, and doing nothing in particular. While in NoHo/SoHo, food wise, I had half of shot of espresso, a 16 oz. iced latte with two brown sugars,  and half of those delicious chocolate twists. Flaky with chocolate chips. Not pictured... we went to All Saints, H&M, Zara, and a vintage shop. Lots of inspiration. I'm still jittery from the coffee. It's been hours since I drank some. This is why I don't drink it often. Whoops. xo n

Monday, February 20, 2012

banana bread and why my pictures are blurry

banana bread

Before we move on to the banana bread, let me just flat out tell you that these are pics from my iPhone. After I baked these, I couldn't find my dSLR's connector to my computer so I was like "womp" and just took pics with my phone because I couldn't be able to upload the nice pics anyway. I was wrong.
I found my cord an hour after. Okay, cool. Moving on...

Banana bread is probably the simplest baked good The only words to describe it are moist and slightly sweet. I used this recipe from Orangette before and was bestowed with great success, even though I forgot to add the water and used only half of the topping. This time, after I followed the recipe almost word for word, it came out even better than before. How can you trust me? Well, I "accidentally" ate a 1/4 of a loaf. The loaf was magically sliced up into the slices, the cinnamon sugar beckoning me. Oops.

banana bread

Usually, I prefer my sweet breads to have chunks of nuts. This time, I totally forgot about the bag of walnuts in my fridge. If you want crunch, add two handfuls of toasted walnuts. To be honest, I didn't need the crunch, after all! The crackly top (see below) satisfied me.

banana bread

Look at that top! (You can see a few grains of raw sugar that didn't seep into the soft bread. Oops.) When you poke a toothpick through the surface, you hear the faintest crackling of the broken crust. Crackly crust and soft, barely sweet bread. Perfection. You'll be finding me cradled up with a cup of steaming tea and a slice of this every day. Much love and enjoy your week!

P.S. Only 15 Twitter followers from 100! Follow me on Twitter: @whatnicoleate

Notes: Substituted 1/2 cup of the AP flour for white whole wheat flour. Decreased the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup. Used 10 tsp agave instead of 12 tsp (1/4 cup) honey. 

{lust list} pre-spring

1 / 2 3 4 }

I've been loving neon and lace lately! It's February but I'm prepping for spring. What's on your lust list?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

a birthday cake and recipe networking


Lately, I've been on an "everyday baking" kick. I made carrot cake sandwich cookies last Saturday, a pear crisp with cranberries on Tuesday, and roasted chickpeas this morning. Then, I made my first ever celebration cake.


It's a birthday cake for my mom. To be honest, I've been planning this cake for weeks! Lame, right? I was thinking about smitten kitchen's best birthday cake. I then realized I didn't have two nine inch cake pans; I only have one. Oops. Luckily, I came across Big Girl Small Kitchen recipe for a one layer yellow cake with a peanut butter filling. I had a big tub of sour cream, just chilling in my fridge, begging to be used, so smittenkitchen's chocolate sour cream frosting seemed fitting.


BGSK yellow cake + BGSK peanut butter filling + smitten kitchen's chocolate sour cream frosting = a delicious, yet messy, birthday cake.

Notes: For the cake, I substituted 3/4 of the AP flour for white whole wheat. The sour cream should be 3/4 cup. The flour, sugar, baking soda, powder, salt, butter, and sour cream mixture was realllyy dry; I had to add more dollops of sour cream to moisten it. I "kneaded" the mixture with my hands. I was afraid the cake would become tough but it was fine! It's not my favorite yellow cake; I will most likely replace this cake recipe with another one.
For the filling, I only had 3 tbsp of peanut butter left in the jar. It still tasted delicious.
For the frosting, I halved everything and I still had a bit frosting left, even though I ate globs of it while I was making it. Instead of light corn syrup, I used 6 tsp of agave. Agave is similar to corn syrup because it prevents crystallization, or something like that. I dunno.
I baked the cake. While the cake was baking, I made the frosting and popped it in the fridge to chill. When the cake was taken out and completely chilled, I whipped up the filling. I sliced the cake in half, horizontally, and slathered on the filling. I saved a little and put it in a small Ziploc to pipe on the lettering. Finish it off with the chocolate frosting and it's done! Pretty simple and it tastes delicious.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Hey everyone! I'm going to make this post short and sweet. (I'm half-watching the Super Bowl.) 

(classic black on black displayed by this fashionable lady) 

(loving this sweet, romantic side of Valentino)

(cucumber cups with spicy crab - cool and hot. love it! original here)

(happy nutella day! how did you spend it? original here)

(they played the game for you, U. i bet you're grinning your face off!)

Congratulations, Giants! I'm a Jets fan but my late friend absolutely loved the Giants so I cheered for them this time. It's been a month and a week. It's a heart wrenching that I can't text him about this. He taught me (almost) everything I know about football. Love you and rest in peace, kid. xo

Enjoy your week, everyone, and cherish your loved ones.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

an open letter to pancakes

pumpkin pancakes
We need to talk. 
I know I've neglected you and often said I hated you. I called you dry, flavorless, and unappetizing. I'm sorry, Pancakes. Pumpkin changed my mind about you. I've realized you can be slightly sweet and oh-so-tender with the right ingredients. I'm over Waffles and French Toast. Be mine. XO. 

Here's a fact about me.
I used to strongly dislike pancakes.
(Yeah, I know. I have a [failed] pancake recipe here. That time I was having a WEIRD craving, thanks to Joy the Baker's mouth watering pancake recipe collection.)

Before I ate these glorious pumpkin pancakes, if you were to ask me the following questions - which of these choices would you like to eat or drink for breakfast? Pancakes or battery acid? - I would have chosen the battery acid.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

news, updates, and muffins


Oh hi, how ya doin'? I'm all and well.

Okay, just kidding. I'm not. Being a teenager in this world seriously sucks. Maybe I'm just saying that because I have midterms in a couple of days and my skin is breaking out like crazy. I'm bereft of skin knowledge because my skin has never caused me any problems. I just do my daily cleaning routine and I'm good. Ugh, not anymore.

Hypothesis: If I stop eating foods filled with sugar, then I will have my old skin back. Does that make sense? Will it work? I can't help my stress; I can't even manage that ish. So, new diet it is. Hopefully I can stick to my new vegan diet. Oh God. I'm scared.

Oh, and the muffins you see above my lil rant? They're good. Not great. A solid A-. It's my fault though. I made crazy adaptions both by accident and on purpose. The first adaption was adding Craisins. THAT addition was good. The ones with Craisins were 10x better than the ones without. Next, I filled the tins with batter BEFORE they had time to rise. I thought the instructions said that they will rise in the tins. I'm an idiots sometimes most of the time. I also halved the topping amount. I bet they would taste better with more butter and sugar. What wouldn't? Another mishap was putting the batter into baking cups rather than a sprayed muffin tin. I made two without cups, just to experiment, and they held up better. Moister. My last mistake was over baking them(?). Maybe it was baking cups that caused this because the sans cup weren't burnt on the bottom like the ones in cups were.

Yeah, so take my advice and don't do the things I did. Except adding the Craisins. THAT, my friend, was a good move.

See ya on the flip side.

Friday, January 6, 2012

confessions and the best brownies ever


Confession #1. I used to hate, with a capital H, shredded coconut, bananas, and yogurt. I think it was textural thing. I've grown out of it, evident by my love for flaked & toasted coconut, banana bread (I made two different kinds on NYE, by the way) and banana cake. Also, fat free Greek yogurt? With honey? Uh, best "healthy" snack/quick meal ever.

Here's another confession. I was dreaming about these brownies in English today. (Sorry, Mrs. Cap!) While the class was murmuring about chapter seven in The Great Gatsby, my mind was absorbed with an image of brownie.

A sweet piece of dense heaven that has the richness of a chocolate bar. What would go on top? A salted caramel sauce? Mm. Oh wait, no heavy cream. Hm, what if something went inside? A cream cheese swirl? With... uh, hm. Coconut? Yes! Coconut and chocolate. Like those chocolate macaroons. Never had one though. 

And that's how this baby came into creation.

the best brownies

Monday, January 2, 2012

good riddance, two thousand and eleven.

2011 has been one of the most turbulent years for me.

Perhaps it's because 2011 is the year I turned sixteen.
Or because I had to balance doing schoolwork with studying for the SATs, sleeping, and exploring new culinary adventures.
Or because the Arab Spring occured. It kept me up some nights, thinking.
Or the Occupy (insert city name here) riots started, which also kept me up.

I went through both laughter and tears, blessings and curses. I made new friends and lost a very special one.

One of the most intelligent, frank, and funniest boys I ever had the pleasure of knowing left us on December 29th. For seventeen years, he bellowed his distinct laugh and made his friends and family laugh and smile with his antics. It was holiday break, time for relieved sighs and hours spent with friends and family. It was time to start fresh and anew. But three days before we rang in the new year, he passed away due to heart complications.

When I found out, I couldn't stop crying. He was one of my best friends two years ago. Although we grew apart, he still knew just what to say to make a girl smile. We had a social science fair we were both attending together in mid January. I was so excited to be with him again, to hear his hearty laugh, and to laugh at his jokes. I wanted to tell him the things I couldn't tell him two years prior. I was waiting for that fair. After I stopped the tears streaming from my eyes, the fact that I wouldn't see him at that fair wandered into my mind. The fact that I still had things to say to him made my heart pound against my chest. I was filled with regret but I was helpless at this point.

Grieving is a such delicate topic, laced with intricate feelings. It is reflects different on everyone; it is an unique experience. I never had to grieve before. This was the first time a loved one of mine passed away. Parents' of close friends have passed away and my heart ached for my friends. I cried for them. Baked for them. But I never used a whole box of tissues in two nights, like I did on December 29th and 30th.

The end of 2011 was a terrible one. I couldn't ask anything worse. The start of 2012 wasn't dandy either; my emotions was still ripped and raw from his death.  My heart still pounds quickly when I hear or say his name. Instead, my friends and I refer to my friend as "he" or "him". Half of the world is male and yet when I say "he" or "him", my friend understands me, and vice versa. You know what's beautiful? More than 400 people came to a memorial service at our high school. Knowing that some many people love and care for him makes me smile uncontrollably. He touched so many hearts in his seventeen years. He was something special. I will never forget his sweet smile or his hearty laughter. Unexpectedly, I learned lessons from him. 1) Live every second like it's your last. 2) Speak up and say what's on your mind because you never when the person you want to say it to will disappear. I will keep his memory with me forever. However, I must plow through life, complete my goals, and celebrate my achievements. I can't linger like this anymore. By regretting and dreaming, I bring my own tears and heartaches.

When I got my appetite back, I ate a plate of makeshift penne cacio e pepe my mother made. (That lady has a gift with Italian cuisine, I swear!) The next day, I made it again and had two bowls for breakfast. Although it wasn't exactly the same cacio e pepe you saw here or here, it was simple, delicious, and filled with just enough unami to make me sigh. Oh carbs, how I love you so! Here's a recipe that might make you laugh due its simplicity.