How to start your weekend (with carbs).

Oh, Saturday you're here at last. I've been thinking about you all week, you minx.

Big lazy plans for you include dinner with friends, that yoga class I desperately need, a little neighborhood exploring and some R&R with a splash of vino on the side.

But before anything, there will be pancakes. Any good Saturday should be fueled by fluffy disks of flour, sugar and butter. These, from Smitten Kitchen, are a must-have.

Happy Weekend!


It's Raining [ra]Men

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

"This is healing food." I say the same thing every time I eat a hot bowl of ramen.

What can I say? Japan gets it. They know how to eat well, how to prepare simple delicious meals in a way that still feels smart and not at all contrived. 

I cuddle up to a bowl of this goodness, and things just feel better. My stomach is warm, I feel nourished. The beauty about ramen is that it is very much up for interpretation. 

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

Keeping the flavor profile intact with the usual suspects--shallots, garlic, ginger and scallions--I usually make a kitchen-sink variety, meaning that whatever veggies I have on hand get thrown into the mix. 

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

More often than not, things get topped off with a poached egg. 

Dipping plastic in hot water initially sounds like a bad idea, but trust me on this. Crack an egg in plastic wrap, create a little pouch with it, and place in your hot water. 

No more messy poaching in egg white-cloud water. Shout out to the brilliant Chef Carey Yorio for this.

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

While hardboiled is more traditional, the oozy yolk from a poached egg lends an amazing silky texture to the noodles. Think Asian Carbonara.

Photo Courtesy of Jamie Federico

And please, always have Sriracha on hand. I practically wear it in a holster while cooking. And even sometimes when I'm not. 

Your Best Ramen in 5 Steps:

1. Boil and season water, cook noodles. Drain, set aside.

2. In a large pot, saute your aromatics: garlic, shallots, ginger, white parts of scallions or leeks. 
Bump up the heat until you're scared of burning something. Deglaze with a bit of lime juice and soy sauce. Scrape the little crispy bits off the bottom of the pan. 

3. Add the rest of your kitchen-sink vegetables, sauté until cooked through and flavors are well developed. 

4. Add in desired amount of desired stock. I use low-sodium vegetable stock, about 1.5 quarts. If you prefer a soupier dish, add more. 

5. Add your cooked noodles back in, turn off the heat. Dish it, top with desired toppings (chives, Sriracha, eggs, whatever you fancy) and enjoy!

*Note: If you want to get fancy, you can line bowls with seaweed before plating. Good times.

*Another note: This dish is proven to taste better in the rain, on your couch, in your most cuddly clothes, with a good movie on. 


Tuesday Getaways: Fig and Fauna

It's Tuesday. That means that it's not Monday and you're almost at Wednesday, which is almost mid-week. For slow-moving weeks like this one, I declare it the new hump day. 

And on this rainy, humid, particularly blah Tuesday, I invite you to briefly steal away for a few moments and (make pretend to) go to Fig and Fauna.

I was inspired by these beautiful photos courtesy of Cannelle et Vanille, a blog that deserves a dedicated post all to themselves. I hope you will be, too.

A husband and wife duo who decided to get the heck out of suburbia and embrace country life (in South Florida, mind you!), the resulting Fig and Fauna farm looks like a humble slice of utopia. 

I'm so excited to see what their upcoming cookbook has in store. I say this because these photos make me want to slap on a pair of overalls and start helping out with farm chores. And I say that never. 

So enjoy this little respite, check out their site along with Cannelle et Vanille!

Thank goodness for tiny trips.


Good Eats: So a man walks into a Vbar...

The man sitting at the end of the bar was air drumming and drinking alone. Wearing sunglasses and running his fingers through the glam rock hair down his back, he was drinking margaritas and riding high.
It was his birthday and he decided to start the celebrations early.

"Maaan, the first time I came here, I liked it. But the people--the people keep me coming back," he said.

The "here" in question is Vbar. The location is New York's East Village, specifically at St. Mark's and 1st Avenue...where the aforementioned dubious hair and amazing food collide. This gentleman may have been enjoying multiple cocktails while flying solo, but one thing was certain: I trusted his endorsement.

When we first moved to the neighborhood, we were on the lookout for what would become our regular watering hole. Given its close proximity to our apartment and cozy ambiance, Vbar easily nudged out the competition. The drinks are good. The pours are generous...loving even. Almost as if the adorable bartender in suspenders knows the kind of day you've trudged through to get there.

I had certain expectations from the Italian bar that also serves as a cafe-style restaurant.

Wine, for one. I expected good wine. Their list is exceptionally diverse.

A delicious cappuccino wasn't surprising either. Any self-respecting Italian proprietor would pride himself in a sturdy, frothy foam that stays around for the long haul.

The people--as this 80s-lovin' man will tell any bystander--the people, surprised me.

To start with, I didn't expect them to be so...nice. Nice is usually reserved for less cool neighborhoods where strollers and clean parks and shirts with crocodile logos abound.

But they do 'nice' really well here. Smiling happens. They remember your name and your favorite place to sit. They tell you about what's been happening and you tell them about the big project you're working on late which is why you're eating alone at the bar. They're nice. The candlelit bar is nice. The whole thing is just nice. In my book, good service moves mountains, and it seems like the team here really gets that.

Now onto the reason you're really here. The food. In the best way possible, the food is downright shocking.

You kind of expect pub grub when you're going out for a Guinness, but with a decidedly Italian slant to their menu, Vbar elevates the entire experience. At one point you wonder, 'Am I drinking at a restaurant or eating at a bar?' A bit of both, actually.  During a recent brunch that was kicked off with spicy, briny bloody Marys, I was delighted to learn that they've mastered granola. You know how I feel about granola.

Their is a not-too-sweet mix of walnuts, oats, almonds and raisins. Served over tangy, thick yogurt and fresh fruit, I was practically fighting with my husband over who got the last bite.

At our server's suggestion, I went ahead and got a little crazy with my entree order. Apparently mozzarella in carrozza is the dish you must experience before leaving. I have to say, they were totally right.

While yes, I'm more of a green-juice girl, but come on--toasted brioche layered with ham, fresh mozzarella and fried eggs? It's everything you are imagining it to be. Salty ham, sweet bread, a little gooey from the cheese and a little crispy from the edges of the eggs. Go there and get this.

And yes, the sausage, slightly obscene-looking while sitting naked on their plate, were perfectly browned and flavorful. I can't say we did them any justice, as we were ready to be rolled out the door at this point, but we took note to save room for next time.

And by next time, I mean this weekend. I have big plans for their lemon ricotta pancakes. As should you.

To view the Vbar menus, click here.

To view their address and location information, click here.


A Recipe Redux

Pssst. Hey.

Yes, you.

You're pretty great. And smart. You know things. Like...real, important things.

You know that sea salt is the holy grail of flavor.
And that eating vegetables, while not always your first impulse, is a must.

You remember that it's okay for dessert to come first...

...and it's more than okay to prefer springtime crostini instead of a fancy dinner out.

You make cheese, for goodness sake.

It's no secret to you that your parties will always revolve around the kitchen table/butcher block/summertime grill. 

You know that she who brings the chocolate has the power.

And more than that, you know you

Ask yourself for advice first. 
Listen to your gut. 
Acknowledge your aspirations. 
Respect your own opinion. 
Take control of the next step. 

You know more than you think you do. 


The Curry Cure

I like curry. Really like it.

But, I have to be honest right away and tell you that I did not make this recipe. Not even a little.

As tempted as I am, my husband doesn't eat it. I know, right?? Crazy talk.

That fact, combined with a pot of amazing curry and my tendency to not. stop. eating. it....is a recipe for a New Delhi Belly.

However, when a PC-reader let me know that she is on strict orders to completely omit wheat, dairy, yeast, nuts and sugar from her diet, I had to get a decent meal to her before she died of boredom over her plate of steamed vegetables. No one wants that.

Enter the mighty curry. Flavorful, rich, silky and spicy--a sumptuous curry dinner is exactly what said reader needs to perk up her plate. Plus it kind of goes with almost everything: Vegetables, Fish, Chicken, Tofu.

Even chocolate and cookies are invited to the party. It's the little black dress in your recipe repertoire. Peanut butter just lost that title.

So let's get down to business. Here's a delightful (and easy!) sauce that pairs well with whatever you choose to curry...

Coconut Curry Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine


  1. 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
  1. 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  1. 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  1. 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  1. 1 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  1. One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
  1. One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  1. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño and ginger; cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the coconut milk and sugar; bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 20 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and transfer to a bowl.

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. 


Use as a poaching liquid for chicken, shrimp, lamb, pork and vegetables. Add to a sautéat the last minute. Toss with boiled potatoes or serve over rice. Mix with chicken stock and vegetables or seafood for a quick soup.


Crazy Sexy Recipes. They'll make you look good.

By now my affinity for health and wellness is no surprise. I just loooove feeling good and vibrant and keeping you in-the-know on how to live your healthiest life. 

One of my riveting role models, wellness gurus and all-around life-lovin' rock stars, Kris Carr, featured a recipe blog post by yours truly on her web site: CrazySexyLife!

The Crazy, Sexy, Life message is all about getting into your best physical, mental and emotional shape. But what I love most is that it helps provide tools for change without asking you to abandon everything you love and become someone different. You can be YOU. Only YOU...2.0 version. 

Check out my article here, test some recipes, let me know how your feeling. 

And come back later for a special requested recipe from a reader who can't eat anything!*

*Okay, she can eat. But no yeast/gluten/dairy/nuts/fruit allowed. So this upcoming dinner idea is extra creative (and delicious!). 



Hello techie followers,

If you're a fan of the blogosphere (you know, compulsively checking on your faves every day), you can follow Pip Cooks on Bloglovin'!

Check it out below:

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Keep cookin',
Xx P


Your Luxe Smoothie Shelf

I feel extremely accomplished when I can justify a purchase.

Like the pair of dressier-than-necessary black shorts I bought in January. What inspired me to buy shorts in the dead of winter? Well, they had all of the right answers to my typical shopping questions:

1) How much will I use this?
2) How can I get more use out of it?
3) What does it go with?

Paired with black tights during the winter, I answered my first question. Using the black belt as a headband was answer to the second question. And well, they are black, so in my mind, they go with everything. Score. 

I ran through the same line of questioning during a recent shopping spree trip to the supermarket.

After a rather sluggish couple of months, I was anxious to fill stock up on energy-boosting ingredients. While I did spend a little more than I was hoping to, these five superstars go way beyond the call of smoothie duty.

Here, some ideas for making your dollars stretchhhh:


Small, crunchy and relatively flavorless, I'd always assumed these were reserved for the homegrown chia pets. So wrong. Once mixed into a liquid (water or almond milk) these tiny seeds look like caviar and take on the consistency of tapioca. Perfect for a omega-packed breakfast with sliced strawberries or sprinkled over your salad.
Made from greens grown in high-altitude volcanic rock (I kid you not), this powder is super high in probiotics which is a cure-all for those with digestion woes. Sunwarrior mixes theirs with peppermint and stevia, so surprisingly, it doesn't taste like you're drinking lawn clippings. Sneak a little into zucchini soup, sprinkle over your yogurt, bake funkadelic green cookies or dye your St. Patty's Day cupcakes. Go crazy. 


Peanut butter, who? That's how much I love this stuff. Former PB addiction is stuff of the past--almond butter is where it's at, friends. I add this to oatmeal, slather it in between a halved banana with honey or take it over to the savory side with a raw thai almond sauce.


Yes, I actually put a small teaspoon of this elixir in my smoothies. What sounds weird at first is actually great for your heart, boosts energy and aids in digestion. I also keep a separate jar on hand to use as moisturizer. No, it doesn't cause breakouts. Yes, it's the best 'lotion' I've ever used.

We've chatted up gojis before. My affinity for them lives on. Sprinked on top of quinoa with coconut and dried fruit, blended into chocolate mousse, or mixed into a breakfast muesli, these chewy little gems get along with everyone.

These super-healthy ingredients really do work overtime!

Do you have any creative ways to use your top-shelf ingredients?


Things that last.

I have this thing about first and last impressions. I'm really into them.

A first impression can never be changed; it's impossible to convince your brain to remember things differently than it did the first time around. Last impressions are (almost) inarguably more important.

I think about this so often that before buying a new book I read the first and last sentences. This bothers people.  But, if the first sentence doesn't whet your appetite and the last sentence doesn't inspire you to connect the dots in between, why bother?

An impression is defined as having a strong effect on feelings, intellect or conscience.

We're always faced with these seemingly small opportunities to leave a lasting mark. Whether it's positive or not is up to us as individuals. These little-but-powerful moments hold so much potential. You can win friends or make enemies. Get the job or lose one. Earn trust or disrespect. Inspire or tear down.

So many tiny chances add up to to big impressions.

This article, from The New York Times, cleverly dissects the connection between food and music. It's a subject that's been covered before, but this fresh take on it inspired me to remember how much the littlest things can matter.

Plus, the first and last sentences are deliciously enticing and satisfying.

Click here for the full article.


As soon as the sun shines.

Today is the kind of day that makes you fall in love with New York all over again. Winter here can be brutal, as you know, but this year it seems as if the city has pardoned us in some way. Not only has there been no snow accumulation to speak of, there has been sun, blue skies and mild breezes that smell faintly of green and flowers and warmer weather to come.

Today--beautiful, warm, 55-degree today--feels exceptionally amazing, even during this very kind winter.

It smells like the Hudson River (and that's supposed to be a good thing, although if you live by 'real' bodies of water I'm sure that idea is repelling in every way). 

People are walking a little faster and shedding layers of cardigans, scarves, and puffy coats. 

Fresh salad seems more appetizing than hot soup. 

I tried to get a tan through my office window. True story.

And of course, nothing says spring is (almost) here than a crisp, refreshing...cocktail. 

This rose-colored concoction is borrowed from one of my new favorite sites, Design Sponge, who were inspired by a cozy little bar called Apothecary, based in Philadelphia. Although pink drinks are typically reserved for cocktails with girlfriends, I like to think this libation is suitable for the guy who's confident in his manhood. As yours is, I'm sure. 

But keep an extra jigger of gin on hand in case he needs more convincing. 

Cheers and let the springtimes roll!

Cardamom Rose Cocktail:
1.5 oz of Hendrick’s gin (this is a rose & cucumber infused gin)
.75 oz of Rose syrup (make at home with rose water and simple syrup or buy locally)
.25 oz of Fresh lemon juice
.75 oz of Fresh grapefruit juice (ruby red preferably)
2 dashes of Peychauds bitters (Peychaud is credited with first creating the cocktail)
1 Cardamom Pod
1) Lightly muddle 1 cardamom pod at the bottom of shaker (not too much muddling or it will overpower the drink)
2) Add the rest of the ingredients
3) Add ice
4) Shake for 20 seconds
5) Strain over fresh ice to remove the cardamom pod
6) Add a splash of seltzer water
7) Garnish with rose petals or fresh lemon wedge 

NOTE: If the idea of muddling cardamom pods is off-putting, opt for fresh, organic mint instead. 


Choosy Eating

Not only as Americans, but as citizens of a first world country, we are showered with options when it comes to almost every aspect of life. This is certainly most evident when we sit down to eat. Three times a day we are faced with the same question (what to eat) and three times a day, sometimes more, our appetite is satiated by our whims and desires. 

While the government-assisted family and the business men who indulge in three-martini lunches share almost nothing in common, we all share the same responsibility of choosing how, what and from where to feed ourselves.

McDonald's vs. Black Label burger. 
Tuna salad vs. Tuna sashimi. 
Iceberg vs. Endive.
Entenmann's vs. Ladurée. 
You get it.

Every Sunday I walk to the farmer's market at the corner and scope out the produce of the week. Most of the farmers and vendors at Greenmarket are local and as soon as you walk from table to table, you understand exactly what that means. That means root vegetables and lettuces in February (and any other month that ends with an 'r'.) No sexy strawberries or tomatoes. No juicy figs or zucchini. Just plain 'ol potatoes.

Eating local means we are at the mercy of what our land offers up that month. That's not hipster talk, that's the absolute truth. The influx of options at Whole Foods makes it too easy to forget that most of the food we purchase has traveled 1,500 miles before it hits the shelves. Which of course affects fuel, the environment, labor, freshness, preservatives in the food, etc. So many choices can also numb us to the fact that there are many people on the globe that eat what they can grow or find. That's it.

Such a simple idea can sound so revolutionary. That's exactly why Alessandro Porcelli, formerly of renowned restaurant Noma in Denmark, organized a global event called Cook It Raw. Noma restaurant is known for serving only what the chef and his team can forage in Denmark. Denmark. And we're not talking about tropical fruit and exotic seafood. Think mushrooms, root vegetables and gamey animals. 

Porcelli assembled 14 of the world's accomplished chefs and hosted them first in Denmark and then in Italy, to forgage, prepare and be inspired by all that nature offers. Even surrounded by seemingly uninteresting landscapes, beautiful food is created. 

I'm not suggesting that we all explore our backyards for dinner tonight. (Which would leave me foraging my fire escape.) But maybe we can get to know our farmers a little. Maybe we can trying eating food that is indigenous to our area and find creative ways to prepare it. Maybe we can even wait until blueberries are in season before topping our oatmeal with them. 

We choose, we spend, we eat, and we silently vote for what matters to us. 

What matters to you?


Soup's On.

I've made it my mission to cook more this year. Yes, I blog about cooking, but over the past few months there have been too many meals out. Although they were delicious, there's something even more gratifying about making your own feast and sharing it with family/friends/spouses at home.

Oh, and it's healthier. And cheaper. Do you know what's not gratifying? Having an amazing meal at home and then facing a kitchen filled with dishes, pots and pans to wash. Suddenly, the euphoric food coma evaporates and you're breaking a sweat trying to scrub every last corner of the stove.

Enter my reignited love for one-pot dishes--soups and stews, specifically. Throw everything together, season well, decide if you want to blend or not and start chowing down. Love it.

This recipe is definitely hitting our table this weekend. Comforting, protein-filled and fiber-rich, this lentil soup is all kinds of delicious.

And since there will only be one lonely pot waiting for me, I'll have extra time for dessert. Naturally.

Vegan French Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Robin Robertson)
Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
1 cup French lentils
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups vegetable broth
4 cups baby spinach

What You Do:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in sherry, then add lentils, tomatoes, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, and broth.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes, adding more broth if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the spinach. Serve hot.


Reaching for it...

Happy New Year! Now that the last drop of Champagne has been poured and the final present exchanged, it's time to face 2012 and all it holds up its sleeve.

For years I stopped making resolutions, because the Type-A in me starts to freak out the minute I cheat on my exercise/relationship/savings/diet goals. Setting myself up for that every year seemed unfair. Then I started creating resolutions that looked more like a list of aspirations--not strict, tangible things to attain, but ideas I wanted to form my year around.

I'm feeling that 2012 is already bringing more clarity than years past. For the year ahead, I'm not making resolutions or aspirations. I'm molding my entire year around one single concept: POTENTIAL.

Potential is a powerful thing with two sides to it. The first is outside potential, which is opportunities and experiences that you're introduced to. Secondly is inward potential, which is generated by simply being honest with yourself.

For example, this year, my inner dialogue sounds more like this: "What am I capable of? Do I have the potential to love, forgive, laugh more? Could I dream bigger? Am I able to raise the bar in a certain area?"

It's amazing how exciting things feel when you give yourself the chance to do more.

I truly feel that when we work on inward potential, the outside potential (at work, home, with friends) becomes limitless. The year seems more promising when you're empowering yourself to be better, instead of creating a large to-do list that never seems to get done.

I hope this idea inspires you do think a bit differently about 2012. Let's fulfill all we are capable of becoming. And while that's happening, keep cooking...

Puff Pastry Pear Tartlets
Courtesy of Food and Wine, Serves 6

  1. 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. Salt
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  4. 6 tablespoons crème fraîche
  5. 14 ounces all-butter puff pastry, chilled
  6. 1/4 cup pear brandy
  7. 4 large Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  8. 3/4 cup sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. On a work surface, sprinkle the top of the pastry with 1/4 cup of the sugar and, using a rolling pin, roll the sugar lightly into the dough. Flip the pastry and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup of the sugar. Roll out the pastry to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Using a 4-inch round plate as a template, cut out six rounds of pastry.
  2. Transfer the pastry rounds to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and poke them all over with a fork. Top with another sheet of parchment and baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned. Remove the top sheet and parchment paper and bake the rounds for 10 minutes longer, until caramelized. Slide the paper and pastry rounds onto a rack and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the pears and cook over high heat, tossing gently, until barely softened, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the pear brandy. Return the skillet to the heat and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Add the sliced almonds and cook over high heat, stirring, until golden, 3 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Dollop the crème fraîche on the pastry rounds and top with the pears and almonds. Serve right away.