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A mostly healthy and budget-friendly cooking blog

September 1, 2014
by Erin Clarke
34 Comments

Peanut Butter Banana Toast with Granola and Honey {This is My Real Life}

Sometimes life is tidy, organized, and served on heirloom china with tiny flowers painted on the rim. Other times, it’s sticky, messy, and served on paper towels…because all of your real plates are still in moving boxes. At the moment, my real life is all paper towels and Peanut Butter Banana Toast with Granola and Honey.

Peanut Butter Banana Toast with Granola and HoneyBen and I moved to a new city last Wednesday, and as much as I’d love to tell you that 48 hours later, I was wearing a cute apron pulling a steaming coq au vin from the oven, in truth, we don’t even have Internet yet (hi from Starbucks!). We’ve been madly shopping Labor Day furniture sales, instead of unpacking silly things like real silverware. We are living off of Qdoba (eaten with plastic forks), and I suspect that my aprons are packed in a low-priority box marked “Christmas décor.”

Note to everyone prepping for a move: If you have an item you want to be able to find right away in your new home, mark its box “wine opener.”

Peanut Butter Banana Toast with Granola and Honey is hardly a recipe, but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying or scrumptious. It’s healthy and filling, crunchy and creamy, and especially gratifying when eaten from paper towels while sitting on one’s kitchen counter.

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August 31, 2014
by Erin Clarke
17 Comments

Fresh Looks for Fall {+ White Plum Giveaway!}

I am such a summer girl. I never want to put on anything heavier than a sweatshirt, loathe driving in the snow, and mourn the disappearance of farm stand tomatoes. Normally, today—the last day in August—sends me into a fit of denial, and I handle it by wearing flip flops and playing Jimmy Buffet. This year, however, is different. For the first time in my life, I have the fall warm fuzzies! Yes, September, scarves, and cinnamon, I’ll be happy to see you.

White Plum Giveaway-Side by SideI know some of you have been pinning pumpkin recipes for weeks; others would prefer to throw an apple pie in my face for uttering the f-word (ahem, “fall”) while it’s still August, but I can’t help myself. The first cool morning hit here a few days ago, and I suddenly I want to pick apples, eat pumpkin spice everything, and dunk my life in maple syrup. I’m even excited to rake leaves now that we have an actual yard. (Ask me how I feel about leaves in four weeks).

Fall is also pretty much the only time I shop for clothing for myself. Confession time: I hate shopping. Actually, that’s a lie—I love the types of shopping that most people hate—grocery shopping and Christmas shopping—perhaps because they typically end in chocolate. Clothes shopping, however, is generally a miserable experience for me. I can’t handle the lines, dressing room mirrors are a nightmare, and I almost never have an idea of which items match each other.

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August 29, 2014
by Erin Clarke
27 Comments

Strawberry Mango Fruit Leather

I never fared well during the middle school lunchroom food swap. If only I’d had stash of homemade Strawberry Mango Fruit Leather, I could have ruled the cafeteria. Strawberry Mango Fruit LeatherAt every lunch hour from fourth through seventh grade, my classmates would turn out the contents of their brown bags and fancy Arctic Zone lunch boxes (remember those?) and the bartering would begin. Plain peanut butter sandwiches, anything on whole grain bread, and members of the fruit/vegetable kingdom were of no value. Fruit snacks only mattered if they were Loony Tunes. Doritos, Dunkeroos, and Hostess meant money in the (food swap) bank. The most valuable currency of all: fruit roll-ups.

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August 27, 2014
by Erin Clarke
75 Comments

Brandy Old Fashioned {a farewell to Madison, WI}

Today, I’m packing the last three years of my life into a U-Haul and saying goodbye to a city that’s become a part of me. I’ll have tissue in one hand and a Brandy Old Fashioned in the other.

Brandy Old Fashioned. One of the classic cocktail recipes everyone should know.I can’t believe how attached I’ve become to Madison, Wisconsin. Three years ago when Ben decided to go to law school here, I pitched an unladylike fit. Why on earth would I leave my career and friends in the Twin Cities to still be a) in the Midwest and b) cold, but without c) a job or d) friends. These ABCs didn’t read for me, and I cried at least five times during the weekend we looked for apartments.

Fast forward three years, and all I need to make me an official City of Madison greeter, tour guide, and PR champion #1 is a sticker (shiny gold please) and an official-looking name badge. “Erin Clarke,” it would read. “Madison Enthusiast Extraordinaire.”

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August 25, 2014
by Erin Clarke
43 Comments

Southwest Farro Salad with Corn and Tomatoes

Monday is the epitome of a bad house guest. It shows up too early, lingers too late, and never brings wine. Southwest Farro Salad with Corn and Tomatoes is how I’m dealing with this pesky caller.

Southwest Farro Salad with Corn and TomatoesCooking on Mondays is never easy for me, and lately the task has been exacerbated by the fact that half of my cooking equipment is disappearing into boxes. Ben and I are in the midst of packing up our lives and heading to a new city. We’re relocating one hour east to Milwaukee, where Ben will be starting a big boy job as a lawyer in September. Between stepping out of our bedroom into this and trying to squeeze in every one of our favorite Madison food and cocktail spots (reference: my entire Instagram feed), I haven’t had much motivation to cook the past few days.

As fun as eating and drinking our way through Madison (and not doing dishes) has been, we are in need of reprieve and some balanced home cooking. Southwest Farro Salad is my dream meal of the moment. It requires almost zero cooking (or cooking supplies—key when your favorite skillet is in buried under a wad of packing paper), is healthy, and tastes like a summer fiesta. Let’s toss a bunch of yummy, summery ingredients together in a big bowl, add a zippy southwest dressing, and call it dinner. Yes!

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August 22, 2014
by Erin Clarke
49 Comments

Salted Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes

Salted Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes are the dessert representation of one of my favorite childhood books, Matilda by Roald Dahl

Salted Chocolate Olive Oil CupcakesIn the book (and movie), Matilda, has the ability to move objects with her mind, a power I sorely envied as a child. Honestly, I still envy it, particularly when I’ve just settled down with a warm Blueberry Banana Crumb Bar, only to realize that (*gasp*) I forgot to add ice cream and now must stand up and walk 3 feet to the freezer to retrieve it. Agony! Matilda would be able to float that carton on over without disruption. Forget flying—telekinesis is now at the top of my super-power wish list.

{Side note—while looking up the term “telekenesis,” I stumbled upon this. If anyone succeeds, please let me know. I do loathe moving from the table once I’m already seated with my dessert.}
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August 20, 2014
by Erin Clarke
39 Comments

Blueberry Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

I’ve decided that the fastest way to endear myself to others is to become a Blueberry Goat Cheese Drop Biscuit.

Blueberry Goat Cheese Drop BiscuitsMinus the whole issue of people eating me, being a Blueberry Goat Cheese Drop Biscuit would assure me an invite to every swanky club and secret wine book club. I could score reservations at Girl and the Goat (will it ever happen?) and backstage passes to Beyonce’s next concert (crush!). Drop biscuits are so darn lovable, even the most intimidating of bouncers or strident of hostesses could not resist their flakey, buttery, melt-in-your mouth softness.

In addition to their cloud-like texture and endless versatility, drop biscuits are so darling, they don’t even need to you press and stamp them into rounds. Simply mix, scoop, and bake. This Blueberry Goat Cheese Drop Biscuit recipe is one bowl, no fuss, and all reward. I aspire to be this low maintenance.

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