Recipe: Old-Fashioned Raisin Cookies

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It seems counterintuitive to bake in the summer heat, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing the past few weeks—and I love it! I’ve flagged dozens of desserts in the cookbooks I own and have saved even more as webpage bookmarks. (S’mores bars, I’m looking at you.) I plan to have quite a few yummy treats under my baking belt before the season ends.

I most recently tried my hand at cookies: old-fashioned raisin and double-chocolate mocha, some of which contained walnuts. Though both were a hit with my boyfriend, I preferred the warm, comforting flavor of the raisin cookies. To make them, I adapted a recipe from Get Your Bake On by Brian Emmett; most notably, I used coffee extract instead of brewed coffee (it required less cleanup).

Raisin Cookie Ingredients

Ingredients
~3 cups all-purpose flour
~1 teaspoon baking soda
~1/2 teaspoon salt
~1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
~1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
~1 cup vegetable shortening
~2 cups dark brown sugar
~2 large eggs
~1 to 2 teaspoons coffee extract
~1 cup raisins

Raisin Cookies Baking

Preparation
~Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
~In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
~In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. (I used a handheld mixer, though the recipe recommends a stand mixer.) Blend in the eggs one at a time.
~Fill a measuring cup with 1/2 cup water and stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons coffee extract—or more, depending on how strong a coffee flavor you want. Pour into the large bowl.
~Add the flour mixture to the large bowl as well, beating on low speed until completely combined.
~Fold in raisins.
~Dollop onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden.

raisin cookies

Fueling Up Before and After a Nine-Mile Run

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Because a concrete goal seems to boost motivation, Todd and I signed up for the Staten Island Half Marathon in October of this year. To prepare, we’ve slowly been increasing our mileage, and now I can run five to seven miles at a decent (11- to 12-minute mile) pace without getting too exhausted. Each week we’re trying to dedicate time to at least one long run, and yesterday we tackled our farthest—and hardest—distance yet: nine miles. And because I try to eat mindfully, I wanted to make sure I gave my body the proper fuel that it needed, before and after the run.

Breakfast
When Todd and I visited the glorious food shop Eataly a few weeks ago, we bought a pancake mix made with tibetan purple barley, an heirloom grain. To me, these pancakes taste richer, deeper, more like the earth. (Or maybe I just love their purplish hue.) A couple of hours before our run, we ate pancakes topped with fresh white peaches and pure maple syrup. A glass of milk washed it all down nicely.

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The Run
With temperatures in the 90s, the day promised to be sunny and humid. We tried to head out early to beat the heat, but by 10 a.m. the air already felt thick and we broke out into a sweat within five minutes of jogging. Good thing we brought water with us to stay hydrated!

The first few miles were on hilly bike paths.  I made it to the five-mile mark, then I stopped to stretch for a minute or two. We decided to explore a new nature trail nearby, and the dirt underfoot gave my muscles a little bit of a break from pounding on the pavement. After about a mile, we returned to the streets, vowing to revisit the trail in the future to venture along the more overgrown paths. We made our way back to the parkway by my house, a tried and true path that I have run more times than I can count.

By mile eight, I felt pretty tired, but I wanted to push through and make it farther than I had before. Although my pace slowed considerably in the last mile, and every other minute I looked at my Garmin to see whether I’d hit nine miles yet, I made it to my goal! Then I walked about another half-mile home.

A postrun selfie. You can see the sweat shining on my arms.

A postrun selfie. You can see the sweat shining on my arms.

Lunch
When we got back, my stomach felt a little uncomfortable and I wasn’t too hungry, so I didn’t want anything heavy even though I did want to refuel. I made sure to stretch and drink some cold water, then I decided to make a smoothie. In a blender, I combined two white peaches, cut into small pieces with the skin left on; one frozen banana; a cup of frozen blueberries; and a cup of ice. The end result tasted bright but tart, and the ice and frozen banana gave it a nice slushy consistency. Todd and I took our smoothies to go because we needed to do some food shopping at Fairway!

Lunch

Dinner
I was starving by the time we got back from food shopping, so I had a piece of chocolate to hold me over while making dinner. We fried up (then baked) some beef and veal meatballs and simmered Dave’s Gourmet butternut squash sauce to toss on top of some rotini. With a side of cheesy garlic bread, the early dinner gave us energy and kept us full throughout the rest of the evening—though I couldn’t resist one or two snacks while catching up on TV shows later on.

Dinner

Apartment Photo Update

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As some of you know and as others have seen, we’re finally done with major apartment renovations and updates! Several weeks of painting, building, organizing, rearranging, and cleaning have paid off: the apartment really does feel like home now. I just wanted to quickly share a few pictures with you so you can see how it turned out. It doesn’t quite look the way I originally planned when browsing through Ikea earlier this year, but I’m so happy with how it has turned out. Please share your thoughts—and if anyone knows how to clean a wood laminate floor, I’d appreciate the advice!

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Restaurant Review: Scarpetta

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When in doubt about which restaurant to select for my fiancé’s birthday dinner, I went with the simplest strategy; I chose the one he’d seemed most enthusiastic about trying during the past few months: Scarpetta, located in New York City’s West Village. Opened in 2008 by celebrity chef Scott Conant, it received a three-star review from the New York Times and New York Magazine, which lauded the restaurant for being “fresh and forward-thinking.” Though Conant has since moved on to other projects, Scarpetta continues to receive praise for its homemade pasta and tasty Italian fare. In fact, Todd exclaimed after our meal, “That was the best birthday dinner I’ve ever had.”

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Good Growth: A Photo Update of My Garden

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A little more than one month ago, I planted herbs and veggies in my backyard garden. Some hardy sprouts from last year returned on their own, like the lemon-scented thyme and flat-leaf parsley. Other favorites needed to be replanted, including purple basil and two pepper plants. I also introduced some new crops: Swiss chard, dill, lavender, plain sage (as opposed to last season’s pineapple sage), cinnamon basil, and three varieties of lettuce.

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Recipe: Seven-Mile Tropical Smoothie

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Excitement over an unexpected job offer yesterday and delight in the gorgeous 82-degree day inspired me to not only lace up my Asics Gel Noosa Tri 9s and hit the pavement, but to run farther than I ever have before: seven miles! Although I won’t be winning any marathons at my pace—11:55/mile, and about 1 hour and 23 minutes in total—I didn’t feel too exhausted afterward. In fact, I had enough energy left to make a delicious cold beverage in honor of my new PR. I’m hopeful that its bright coral hue, fruity flavors, and white chia seeds will give me the oomph I need to start organizing collectibles in my new apartment after I finish this post.

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Restaurant Review: Reviver NYC

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While freelance editing at O, The Oprah Magazine, I’ve been searching for healthy lunch options in the neighborhood for the days I don’t tote a salad, a sandwich, or leftovers from home. Though I’ve tried a few different fast-casual options so far, I find myself frequently returning to Reviver—“the perfect union of culinary art and nutrition science,” according to the restaurant’s website. Although the offerings  a little pricey, I think these well-crafted plates are worth the cost.

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