Almond Meringue Cookies + It's Spring! (sort of?)

Finally, after weeks of the same notification from Alexa, "41 degrees and cloudy with a chance of flurries", today felt like Spring. The last few weeks the days have been so grey it feels like we've been in an endless tug of war with winter. Opening the windows to let in a fresh breeze felt spectacular. Just what I needed to get into gear to finish off my last week of pregnancy on a super positive note.

 Growing my very own watermelon!

Growing my very own watermelon!

More so than in previous posts, this year I feel like pressing RESET on everything. No surprise, really. At 38.5 weeks pregnant I am the size of a watermelon and nesting hard. My brain feels like scrambled eggs except when it comes to organizing closets, creating freezer meal plans, and reshuffling the pantry for baby bottle storage. Also, I channeled all of my neuroses and folded every single towel we own into a perfect square. I am told this is entirely normal behavior one week before your entire life changes. 

In an effort to curtail irrational terrorizing of every linen closet and resorting of paper towels and pillowcases (for the third time in two weeks), I spent this week letting all my anxious energy out through transforming the apartment for warmer weather. 

Over the last few days I arranged fresh flowers and put away everything that reminds me of winter: no more boots and no more puffy marshmallow pregnancy coat! Referencing seasonal posts from years past really helped me figure out what to tackle and stay motivated. In no particular order and with as much energy as my very round self could muster, I attacked each of the below. Hope this burst of warmth is as motivating to you as it was to me. Each post is linked so click away!

Then, once my home was relatively in order - I baked the best cookies of my entire life. For the record, cookies have never been my forte and they've never been my favorite. I'm mostly a chocolate chip girl and only on very rare occasions (somehow, cookies never satisfy a craving for me the way ice cream or brownies do.) That completely changed when I made these. I've made them twice since Passover (they're gluten/flour/leavening free) and vowed to never let my cookie jar be empty again.

Not too sweet, not too crunchy, not too soft. If I am the Goldilocks of cookies I finally found my perfect fit. Ok, I'm awful at analogies but these are SO good. Please forgive me, and make them this weekend! 


Almond Meringue Cookies


  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 4 egg whites room temperature. reserve one for later in a separate cup. 
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • rough chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts
 Meringue before I folded it into the dry ingredients. It will deflate as you incorporate it into the mixture.

Meringue before I folded it into the dry ingredients. It will deflate as you incorporate it into the mixture.

  1. Preheat over to 300F. 
  2. Beat 3 egg whites and the pinch of salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. The trick to egg whites is that all of your equipment must be totally dry. Not a single drop of water anywhere! Like the desert but even less. (Thanks, mom for this tip! Only took me 2-3 years to ask why I couldn't manage "stiff peaks".)
  3. Combine all dry ingredients. 
  4. Gently fold the meringue into dry ingredients.
  5. Add buttermilk and vanilla.
  6. Stir to combine into dough. It will be very, very sticky.
  7. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. 
  8. While the dough is chilling chop up your toppings and remember the egg white you set aside in a separate bowl. I used pecans but honestly any nut or even chocolate chips would work.
  9. Scoop up slightly smaller than golf ball chunks of dough, roll into a ball.
  10. Coat cookie dough ball in egg white followed by topping of choice. Flatten into patty... or cookie. Cookies are a type of patty, right? Whoa.
  11. Place on greased baking sheet or parchment paper.
  12. Bake cookies for 15- 20 min, until edges are a bit brown. Cool and then eat. Duh!









On Burn Out + New Year's Resolutions

I've been slow to jump into 2018. Usually, by the first day of the year, my resolutions are set and written out. Without fail, by this point I'm laughing, placing internal bets on how soon they'll be broken.  Writing about the winter months - how excited I get about decorating, cooking large and cozy meals, hosting friends for latkes, our yearly trip to South Carolina, and the break that comes with disconnecting from the hectic day to day - gives me so much joy. But this year has been very different. I spent most days in bed or glued to the television. Didn't read a single book. Didn't cook a single meal. Couldn't even muster the energy or excitement to make latkes! Small and silly for some, but this is not my status quo. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what was going on with me. This was the case until a dear friend pointed out: "You're burned out. Stop. Disconnect." She sent me the this article and once I read through all the symptoms, it's like a light went off in my head. 

Let me start from the beginning - In August, Ian and I found out that we're expecting. (So excited to finally share more with you!) In September, I took a whirlwind and emotional trip with my family to my birth country, Azerbaijan. Between October and December I was traveling almost non-stop, both for work and personal reasons. I recently counted that during my first trimester I was only home for a total of 15 days. Long story short, by the time I realized what was going on with my body and mind, it was too late.  

For weeks I wrote off what was happening as a combination of stress + pregnancy hormones. No doubt, the latter contributed to my rising anxiety. Truth is, those were not the only factors. Blaming work projects or the insanity of living in NYC on the inability to disconnect and enjoy personal, small moments and interests is a recipe for hating everything. Sweeping things under the rug and simply saying "Oh, I'm pregnant!" or "I'll just push through" was an excuse. For me, it was even a symptom of the larger issue. At five months pregnant all I could talk and think about at every minute of every day was work work work work, and work. The things I usually pride myself on - organization and efficiency fell out the window. Meal planning and cooking turned into carry out every night, engaging with friends turned into watching endless reruns of The West Wing (my go-to comfort TV). My entire definition of who I am began to completely revolve around professional work and the fairly inconsequential worries of urban life. "What will we order for take out? Which train should I take? What should I buy online for the apartment?". Online shopping is not a coping mechanism for stress, huge shocker.  I turned into someone I barely recognized - a woman who all but abandoned her personal interests and pursuits. Once I read through the symptoms of "Burn Out", it hit me - I need to slow down. It was time for a hard stop. 

The big lesson here was to take a huge step back. Since we moved to NYC three years ago, I've fallen into the "live to work, not work to live" hole. The last two weeks gave me the opportunity to fully unplug and recognize that my personal and professional lives have existed without any boundaries separating them for a very, very long time. My work is very important to me, but at the end of the day, it's not all that I am. Turning off my email on the weekends and taking a step back from always being "on" is not a cause for anxiety, it's a management tool for it. I know that work-life balance is an endless conversation had on many platforms, but it's one thing to read about others struggle - quite another to address it in your own life.  The only way to succeed professionally and be the kind of woman - not to mention, mother - I want to be is to start prioritizing the personal. 

So, in 2018, I'm not setting long term resolutions. Truthfully, with a baby due in Spring I have no idea what I will want to prioritize 4-6 months from now. Putting that kind of pressure on my life feels unnecessary at the present. Instead, small, short term goals are the aim. There's a lot that I'm capable of and enjoy doing outside of heading to work each morning. I am resolved to remind and reconnect with what those things are. Bring it on 2018. 


It's Chilly. Eat Chili. Also, Cornbread.

Alright, I'm going to spare you my usual song and dance of, "I can't believe I haven't written in so long! Holy crap, how has it been since August?? Can you believe it?! I can't believe it." Truth is, I can believe it. The last few months, have been nothing but travel. Not complaining, but even the best hotel bed doesn't compare to home and cuddling up with these fellows.


To put it in perspective, I haven't been in our apartment or kitchen or living room or bedroom for more than 15 days over the last 3 months. Insanity, right? Right. Even though the whirlwind of travel which has marked the last year isn't slowing down, I've finally made the decision to learn to live in it instead of letting myself be carried away by it. What the hell does that even mean, you ask? It means that the worst thing when you're away a lot is to come home every weekend and feel like all you can do is catch up on having a personal life. Opening an empty fridge, sorting through endless laundry, it doesn't add up to quality time spent at home. Basically, first chance I had, I sat down, and made a plan for how I'm going to tackle the next few months of being away 2-3 days a week without losing my f-cking mind. (Yes, I'm swearing in this space now. But only when the occasion calls for it.)

First things first, I went to the grocery and made a real meal. 


I didn't want something insanely time or labor intensive because well, it's me. Also, when you're working with a limited amount of time at home you want to spend as much of it as possible with your butt on the couch next to your dogs and husband and not at the stove. The other thing is that I wanted enough food to last us a few days so that we could really enjoy some time without having to worry about cooking again. The other other thing is that it's chilly, finally, and I've been craving chili. 

Weirdly enough, it was hard for me to find a recipe to settle on for a nice slow cooker chili. So many options, so many of them from weird somewhat unreliable to me sources like Betty Crocker or Stouffer's. I don't love the idea of getting my recipe from a corporate behemoth and some of the fancier ones were just too fancy. I'm sure you probably have yours, or your grandma's, but I finally put together my own, and of course I want to share it. Also, I made the best damn cornbread of my life, all because I listened to my husband and added 7UP to it. Don't judge until you've tried how insanely fluffy it makes the bread coming out of the oven. Seriously, don't judge. I did and was wrong. This cornbread is so good I've had it for breakfast every morning since. 



Chill, Chili + Cornbread



  • 2 lbs ground beef/chicken whichever you prefer or have on hand. 
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced. 
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes, with juices. I used the basil kind because it's what I had and they worked great. 
  • 1 can tomato paste.
  • 3 cans kidney beans or black beans, your choice. Drained + rinsed. 
  • 2 habanero peppers, diced. 
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

For toppings: cheddar, scallions, sour cream, some people like cilantro - we are not those people but maybe you are? 

  1. In a large skillet, sauté onions until they start to sweat and turn golden.
  2. Add beef or chicken (or both!) and cook until no longer pink. Drain! 
  3. Take the onion/beef mixture and throw it into your slow cooker. 
  4. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, habanero peppers. 
  5. Mix all the spices in a large bowl and dump them in too. Don't forget that spices are a really individual thing - some like more some like less. Please season according to your taste buds, not mine. It's your life, your chili.  (But do remove the bay leaf before you eat, please.)
  6. Mix well. Really, really, really well. 
  7. Set your slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Ignore it until the smell of chili consumes your house. Start the cornbread an hour before you're ready to eat.  




  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup veg. oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1 cup 7UP or Sprite or plain seltzer if you just cannot with the soda. 
  • 1/8 stick butter, softened. 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients + wet ingredients in separate bowls. 
  3. Butter the hell out of a cast iron skillet. (If you don't have one, use a normal baking pan. Totally fine.)
  4. Combine ingredients, mix well, pour into skillet. 
  5. Bake for 40 min or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. 
  6. Dot the top of the cornbread with butter, watch it melt. Maybe drool a little? We did.

Now, throw a slice of the cornbread into a bowl. Top it with scoops and scoops of chili. Top that chili with cheddar, sour cream, scallions. Eat a serving, then eat another serving. Feel like you ate too much? Good. Repeat the next day. 

 This is a crucial step in the process: cornbread first, dollops of chili second. You want the most mush, trust me.

This is a crucial step in the process: cornbread first, dollops of chili second. You want the most mush, trust me.


Chocolate Banana (N)Ice Cream

Since I've jumped on the eat clean food wagon a few months ago, I've learned two things:

  1. I have a lot less will power than I thought. I kept Whole30 for a week and then broke it for a glass of wine. (No regrets. It was worth it.)
  2. I want to change my approach to food + cooking, as a whole. Sugar and processed foods as a treat, not a cornerstone of my daily diet. 

Truly the greatest shift of the last few weeks hasn't been whether or not I can stick to a diet but rather the attention I pay to the kind of food I eat. I knew that most of what we were cooking and eating had additives and so much sugar, but since I've made it a practice to notice, the amount is frightening. Switching to primarily whole foods has not just been healthier, it's been more flavorful. I've been so pleasantly surprised by how fun cooking has been! (I originally wrote "easy and fun" but that's a lie. This is not easy, ordering pizza and Indian is easy.) Cutting out processed foods and substitutes has made me experiment and look up more new recipes than I have in months. Oh, and my jeans fit better.

 frozen muscadine grapes in place of candy or chips as a snack.

frozen muscadine grapes in place of candy or chips as a snack.

 whole ingredient dinner.

whole ingredient dinner.

Unfortunately, it's not all roses and saturated fat free brownies over here. There's one thing that I've tried to go without the last few weeks that has been difficult to forego. Ice cream is my downfall. One problem, I don't handle dairy very well so ice cream has been relegated to the "once in a while with an acid reducer pill" category. There's also that whole fitting into jeans thing, remember?

Hence the discovery of Chocolate Banana (N)Ice Cream. 


For weeks I've been heading to the grocery looking for ice cream substitutes because to me Summer = Ice Cream. I've tried everything on the market and here's the problem - none of it is that good. I'm sorry vegans, but that stuff doesn't cut it.  Also, the imitation ice cream is expensive! $6.99 for less than a pint adds up quickly. There's also added sugar, weird ingredients I don't know, etc. To satisfy my craving and save money I've been making my own creamy, cold, slightly sweet treat to have after dinner on a warm summer eve. Maybe topped with a few berries and a drizzle of honey, maybe with a spoonful of crème fraîche. Just a little something. Give it a whirl? It's not ice cream, it's for sure not frozen yogurt, it's just... (n)ice.


Chocolate Coconut (N)Ice Cream

  • 3 bananas, sliced.
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup cold espresso or coffee
  1. Freeze bananas for an hour.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Eat immediately with toppings of your choice.
  4. Freeze leftovers for up to two weeks. Frozen dessert will be hard to scoop so before eating let it sit on the counter for a little bit. Most ice creams have preservatives and additives that make them easy to scoop once frozen, natural versions do not.
 Topped with Coconut flakes and roasted almonds.

Topped with Coconut flakes and roasted almonds.