Chocolate Popcorn Cookies for The Leftovers Club

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies |

Today I’d like to talk about the internet. Of course, the internet is such a slight thing that can be easily dissected into a 400-word blog post, natch. But although I hardly believe it to be possible, I now spend more time on the web than ever before.  Call it Internet Parenting Addiction.  

Something about the internet tends to bring out the inner weirdo in people.  Like, I never envisioned myself googling, at 3 in the morning, “normal baby poop”. 

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies |

How did mothers nurse without browser-ready smartphones?  I have every parenting book my neuroses and wallet can afford uploaded to my kindle app, plus dozens of longread articles on the Pocket app, Instagram feeds, and enough Facebook and Google Plus groups to wile away any length of time nursing.  When you have a 6 month old in the 90th percentile for weight who always.seems.hungry (she is so my child), that translates into many hours in a nursing chair while absentmindedly stroking her head and poring over Google entries for “best cloth diaper detergent”. (The answer for me is Soap Nuts, of which I’m sure you were dying to know).  

In any case, it also helps (hurts?) my recipe addiction, especially since she’s now of an age where I can place her in an exersaucer and she can entertain herself while I putter away in the kitchen.  My sweet tooth has exploded lately, for better or worse, and I’ve been spending time daydreaming of cookie concoctions.  That’s pretty much how these popcorn cookies came about.   I was browsing through the cupboards in search of cookie inspiration when a jar of unpopped popcorn and cocoa powder appeared before me like a ray of light.  A few hours later, and I was face deep in these chewy, chocolate cookies topped with airy handfuls of popcorn.  And since I needed something to send to my Leftovers Club partner (my first one since the baby, yay!) I knew they would be perfect. 

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies |

What’s the Leftovers Club, you ask?  Check out this page for more clarification.  Or just browse the offerings of other bloggers and their partners to see what goodies others have traded.  Make sure you check out the badass page of Lisa, at Healthy Nibbles and Bits, who is sending me BAKED CAJUN CHIPS that I will be waiting by the mailbox for, as well as some of her other delish healthy recipes, like this spicy red pepper dip thickened with nuts and panko, and this lemon-poppyseed cake baked in the microwave.  I’ll take four, please.

And yes, you can do all of that on the internet.  Weirdo.

Chocolate Popcorn Cookies
Yields 15
Chocolate chewy cookies topped with an airy handful of stove-top popcorn.
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  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2. 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  3. 2 1/4 cup white all-purpose unbleached flour
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  7. 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  8. 1 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  2. Pop the popcorn by heating the oil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. When the oil is shimmering, add the popcorn kernels and toss gently to coat. Keep the lid on tight and heat until you hear the kernels begin to pop. Shake the pan gently while the kernels pop until there are no more popping sounds, then immediately remove the popcorn from the heat and pour into a bowl. Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and whisk gently with a fork in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs and add the vanilla, butter and sugar. Slowly fold the wet ingredients in with the dry and combine until just mixed together.
  4. Roll the dough into 2" wide balls and evenly distribute on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press a well into each cookie with your thumb (the way you would if making thumbprint cookies). Gently press a small handful of popcorn onto the top of each cookie. It's okay if the edges of the cookie batter crack a bit during this.
  5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges has lightly crisped. Let cool before eating.
  6. Cookies will keep for three-four days if covered tightly and stored in a cool, dry place.



Filed under Baked Goods, Cookies, The Leftovers Club

Meatballs and Night Creeping

Meatballs and Night Creeping |

I’ve started doing the ridiculous things I used to roll my eyes at when I saw other parents do. Like, lately I’ve taken to wandering into the Peanut’s room after she’s gone asleep and stand there staring at her in the dark like some sort of night creeper.  She sleeps on her tummy so I use the excuse of making sure she hasn’t smothered herself or anything, but really I like to just stand there and look at the back of her head, listen to her breathing, and marvel at the death grip she keeps on her stuffed bunny.

 That is, till she twitches in her sleep.  Then I startle like a nervous filly and back quickly out of the room.  OH MY GOD DON’T WAKE THE BABY. 

 The thing is, starting at 2 pm, I begin the Countdown.  You know, til bedtime.  She’s on a loose schedule that usually results in bedding down sometime between 6:15 and 7 pm, so I start mentally calculating this from the  minute she wakes up from her afternoon nap.  

 Meatballs and Night Creeping |

The entire bedtime process is actually fun for both of us.  Immediately preceding bedtime is bathtime, and she thinks bath time is THE SHIT.  Like, nothing is as cool as bath time.  I lay her on the bathmat while I get her little baby tub ready and as soon as she figures out what’s going on she starts freaking out, wriggling all around and squealing with glee.  By the time I strip her down and set her down in the tub she has this look on her face like LIFE CAN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS, OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING!  We have a pleasant 10 minutes of dumping water out of a cup and splashing away bubbles, and I try to stop her from rolling over onto her tummy in the water.  She’s like a greased eel, it takes some energy and a quick hand, I’m telling you.


Then it’s bedtime, and I’m so close to a few glorious hours of trashy tv on the couch with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs that I can almost taste the tomato sauce.  She squirms as I dress her, fusses a bit while we sing songs and close the blinds and turn on her white noise machine.  I lay her in the crib and, god willing, she grips that bunny, rolls on her tummy and falls asleep.  I tiptoe out, breathe a sigh of relief and empty out the baby tub. Sweet, sweet freedom!  Onto The Real Housewives and Catfish reruns!

And then like an hour later I start to miss her.  So I creep into her room like a stalker and that’s when the night watching begins.  

Seriously, I don’t even know who I am anymore.


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  1. 5 slices bread, crusts removed
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 pound ground beef
  5. 1 pound ground pork
  6. 1 pound ground veal (see note)
  7. 1 small yellow onion, minced
  8. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  10. 1/4 cup minced fresh oregano or basil
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Before chopping or mixing anything, tear the bread into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk together and pour over the bread, making sure that all pieces of the bread are wet. Let this sit while you ready the other ingredients.
  2. Combine the meats, onion, garlic, cheese, oregano/basil and seasoning. Use your hands to really make sure everything is mixed together evenly. Add the wet bread and mix well.
  3. Roll the meatballs out into 1-2" diameters.
  4. You can cook the meatballs any number of ways. Heat an oven to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Simmer the meatballs in tomato sauce, about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Or fry them in a few tablespoons of oil on the stove, taking care to cover the pan from any splatters, and turning the meatballs often so they brown evenly.
  5. You could also toss the raw meatballs into a big freezer bag and save for a quick lunch. They can be reheated 3-4 at a time by defrosting in the microwave and then frying on the stove.
  1. *If you can't find ground veal, I usually substitute more ground pork, or a combo of pork and beef.

Want a good Sunday Sauce recipe?  Check out this post here. 


Filed under Baby Life, Dinner

“Cheater” Guacamole, and My Imaginary Parenthood

 "Cheater" Guacamole and My Imaginary Parenthood |

We are deep in the throes of the peanut’s first emerging tooth and ugggggh.  Teething is The Worst Ever. Just when I thought we’d made it, when we’d gotten out alive from those fussy, dark, overwhelming days of her first three months, here comes the grumpiness again, storming through our happy and blissed out little routine.  My cheerful, cuddly girl has turned into a whiny, clingy, drooly mess of a baby, and I’m trying desperately to cling to enough sanity for the both of us.  And then my mother ruins everything and tells me last night that this tooth could stop and start for weeks or months before actually breaking through. Acca-scuse me?

I know, I know, all the parents out there are like, “HA HA HA, kids, man!  As soon as you have it figured it, they change it up on you!” and isn’t that just a HILARIOUS thing to say?  Until you are actually living it every day.  

Teether |

Here’s another thing everyone says, which I am raising my voice in chorus: This is turning out to be a lot different than I imagined it would be while I was pregnant.  Here’s how I thought my days would go, compared to how they actually are:

Early Mornings:

Baby wakes up at some perfectly normal time, like 8:00 am, cooing from her crib.  I go and get her and we nurse quietly in the morning light. Then I babywear like the good hippie I am, drink hot coffee and we play.

How It Really Is:

Baby wakes up at some random hour between 6-8 am, yelling from her crib as though someone is trying to saw her arm off.  As soon as I enter her room and she sees me, she is all smiles.  We have a longish nursing session because everything in the world distracts her these days.  She’ll nurse, then pull of and smile at me, then nurse again, then pull off and smile at the window, then nurse, before pulling off to laugh to herself as though she’s remembering some joke she heard the other day.  

She won’t let me babywear her unless we’re walking, so I lay her on her her playmat where she gnaws on her Sophie the Giraffe and I make coffee.  She starts in on the whole “I’ll roll on to my tummy and YOU can roll me back again” malarky, which we engage in numerous times (to her delight) as my coffee grows lukewarm.  

How I Imagined Baby Naps:

At a designated, always-the-same-because-yay-schedules naptime, I lay my baby down in her crib, where she rolls over peacefully and sleeps for three hours.  I take this time to work and make calls and shower and maybe clean and have a little time to myself.

How It Really Is:

At some random time after she has started to show signs of tiredness, I lay my baby down in her crib and she starts yelling as if her arm is being sawed off.  She used to go down with zero fuss, but now that teething has reared its ugly head, sleep is our eternal power struggle. She sleeps somewhere between 45 minutes and two hours, so I work and shower frantically, trying to get as much done as I can before she wakes up because I never really know how long I have.  

Teething Sucks |

How I Imagined Afternoons:

The baby lies on a playmat, playing quietly, while I cook and take fancy ass photos of my food so I can post it on here accompanied by a typical overshare post.

How It Really Is:

We pack up and leave the apartment after her morning nap, or we will both go stir-crazy.  Walks, the park, playgroup, Mommy-and-Me Yoga (my fave, because she is hilarious doing baby tree poses and royally sucking at shivasana, the pose where you are supposed to lie still), or the playground where she stares at the big kids on the jungle gym and gnaws away at her teething toys. My meals are eaten with one hand while pushing a stroller in the other, or out of a bowl while hovering over her playmat and making faces.  Did I tell you I’m hysterically funny?  The baby sure thinks I am!  If you ever need a boost in life, find a way to have a baby laugh at you.  It’s as if all my Christmas mornings came at once.

How I Imagined Bedtime:

I lay my baby down to go to sleep at an earlyish hour, after a bath and a loving nursing session.

How It Really Is:

More arms-sawed-off yelling from the crib.  Occasionally this ramps up to wails, too heartbreaking to listen to, so I go and nurse her to sleep and break every rule in the parenting book by doing so.  Bedtime sleep used to take nearly two hours  to accomplish; we’re down to about half an hour or so by now even with the teething, which I consider my first major parenting accomplishment.

How I Imagined My Evenings After The Baby Is Asleep:

A time to work, catch up on my TV shows, talk to family and friends on the phone.  If my husband is home we have bonding time and rediscover what we love about each other.

How It Really Is:

I eat a bowl of my cheater guacamole (recipe below) and pass out in front of the tv by 9.  

If my husband is home, we order food for delivery and then pass out in front of the tv by 9.

This is parenthood, friends.   

"Cheater" Guacamole and My Imaginary Parenthood |

Cheater Guacamole
I turn to this guac when I have more time than usual, but less than what I would like (does that make sense?) It’s basically just mashed avocado, lime juice, a bit of salt, and garlic- but it gets me through that hump of time between 4pm and bedtime. I eat with pita chips and maybe a spoon if I get desperate.
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  1. 1 very ripe avocado
  2. the juice of one large lime (I nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds before squeezing, you get more juice that way)
  3. 1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
  4. sea salt, to taste
  1. Mash the avocado in a bowl with the lime juice and garlic until well combined. Season to taste with the sea salt. Eat while making goofy faces at a baby.




Filed under Baby Life, Snack

How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood

How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood |

 I feel like I’m emerging out of a fog.  When they say the first couple months of parenthood is overwhelming, they’re not lying.  It was brutal, man.  Total survival mode.  The other night, the Big Man and I were sitting on our balcony drinking wine and watching the lights of Manhattan when he said, somewhat out of the blue, “I have no idea how people could possibly plan for another baby at this stage.” Uh, excuse? Nobody said nothin’ about birthin no babies right away, I can tell you that much.  While I’ve certainly daydreamed about a house full of kids, I’m in no way ready to climb back on the baby train right now.  I’m perfectly happy with just one adorable peanut at the moment, thanks much.  

“I’m just glad the first three months are over,” I said, draining my glass.  

“People say you forget,” he said. “But I remember clearly.  How can you forget?  It was so stressful and messy, how on Earth can you forget that?”

And yet, that’s precisely it.  It was so stressful and so overwhelming and so all consuming that it’s… murky, looking back.  Like, I remember the month of February mostly in little bits and pieces, not in one consecutive string of days.  Suddenly, I realized just how the human race has survived all these years.  It’s because mothers forget this kind of stuff.  If I’m already forgetting the most difficult part of becoming a parent so far, it means that I’ll happily charge into the act of having another baby somewhere down the line.  And part of that…  makes sense?

 How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood |

In any case, between living far from our families, being one of the first of our New York friends to have kids (there was only one mother at my New York baby shower.  One!), and the Big Man’s new bar being so much busier than we ever thought it would be, leaving him to work 80-100 hour work weeks, the role of taking care of our cute little bundle fell largely on my shoulders.  Much props to the single parent households out there, man.  That shit is tough.

How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood |

But here we are, 18 weeks later, and I feel like my battle scars are fading.  The Big Man’s hours have decreased significantly and he’s home more. The peanut and I are in a good groove. She’s a happy, laughing, bubbly, talkative little girl.  She loves to gnaw her sore, slowly-teething gums on Sophie the Giraffe, bang away on her Baby Einstein piano and play the same songs ten times in a row, and grab her foot and shake it like a polaroid picture.  She also loves nothing more than to roll from her back to her tummy, remember that she hates being on her tummy, and whine at me to roll her back again.  Then hit repeat. 

How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood |

To celebrate the end of our first tiny era together, here are the five things that helped get me through those crazy first three months:

1.  Baked Potatoes. No, Tacos Ok, Actually, Sour Cream. For the baked potatoes and the tacos. I dolloped sour cream on everything edible and thanked my lucky stars for weight loss via breastfeeding.

2.  GrubHub and Seamless apps.  I didn’t go near the stove for weeks.  Unless I was baking a potato, of course.  And GrubHub and Seamless, the amazing food-delivery apps that let you order your dinner without even speaking to another human, were a must on the days when I hadn’t showered in a week and my eyes had a sort of feral, wild look to them.

3.  Stroller walks and white noise machines.  Often together. This combo is also referred to as “Baby Ambien” in this house, since when the going got tough, the tough packed the baby into her stroller and walked her to sleep.

4.  Real Housewives of Whatever.  At the end of a long, long day (say, at 9 pm or so), all I ever wanted to do was crash on the couch with Oreos and a beer and watch women with hair extensions argue with each other in their ridiculous McMansions.  

5.  Crispbread “sandwiches”.  In the early days, I ate ham sandwiches like they were going out of style.  Then I got weirded out by the sheer amount of bread I was consuming, and switched to crispbreads with ham and mustard.  Bonus is I now add a schmear of cream cheese or ricotta, and top it with things like grape tomatoes, strawberries, and avocado on top.  With a side of baked potato and half a cup of sour cream (I joke, I joke.  It’s like one-third of a cup.)

6. (Bonus) Skype/Lync/iMeet/Google Hangout.  Basically any program that lets me both hear and see my mother speaking so I can retain some sense of sanity. 

We’re thankfully, finally, coasting into a simpler time, the peanut and I.  Sure, we have teething and sleep regressions and temper tantrums in the immediate future.  But I feel more in control, like I got this.  Every day is easier, every day is more fun, and she’s got these belly laughs now that I wish I could bottle up and carry around with me.  So here’s to the next eighteen years –  or eighteen days – or hell, even the next eighteen minutes of naptime.  And sour cream.  Lots and lots of sour cream.   

How I Survived the First Three Months of Motherhood |


Filed under Baby Life

#MyHomeTownGuide – Best Eats in the LIC

After taking time off to chill with my cuddly newborn baby girl, I’m back, nerds!  Well… sort of back.  This is a sponsored post- all opinions are 100 percent my own.


I’m not going to lie to you – when we moved to Queens, I had a very, very hard time saying goodbye to Manhattan. 

I mean, come on.  It’s Manhattan!  Everything you could want or need (that is, should you not want or need wide open spaces and very few people) is within an arms’ reach.  People write songs about the place.  It inspires books and art and film.  Walking down the street can feel electric. 

It can also feel claustrophobic.  And crazy.  And milk costs nearly $5.00 a gallon.  So last summer, we packed our bags and my pregnant belly and moved across the East River to Long Island City, Queens,  It’s about as close to living in Manhattan as you can get without having to dodge a man in a toilet paper hat ranting about world’s end on a street corner.

We’ve lived here just over six months.  In January, our little family of two grew one more to include this, the world’s cutest child (totally not biased here)


She’s my favorite scouting companion.  Since I’m exclusively breastfeeding and she’s still pretty tiny, our jaunts from home don’t go very far.  But that’s okay, because thankfully, Long Island City has plenty of cute spots for us to venture out to.  Also, I’m getting to know the best spots for nursing on the down-low. 

And now, a word from our sponsor! My partnership with Honest Cooking set me up with an excellent opportunity with Fiji Water to fill you nerds in on all the perfect places in my new little neighborhood, should you ever find yourself east of the East River with hunger in your bones.  Called the “My Hometown Guide”, I’m letting you in on the secret and not-so-secret eateries in my hood. Plus! Want to win a getaway with Fiji Water to some awesome US Cities? Check out the details at the bottom of the post.

OK, ok!  Let’s get to the point.


1.  Homemade Taqueria.  

I am embarrassed with how often I order tacos from this place.  Cheery, friendly, fast, and best of all, cheap, their leftovers are a permanent fixture in our fridge.  I’m pretty sure they see my order coming in through the GrubHub system and smile, because lately they’ve been throwing in freebies when they deliver – usually in the form of the caffeinated soda variety.  And since I have a newborn in the house, this sort of random generosity involving caffeine is much appreciated.  Get the Tacos Al Pator, a spicy pork mix served with pineapple and onion salsa.  Slather their green hot sauce (to die for) on top, and I’m golden.  


2.  Zante’s Deli and Restaurant

Long Island City spreads around the eastern end of the 59th street Bridge like a blanket.  The Big Man, the Little Child and I live on the eastern end, alongside the elevated subway line and just down the street from Zante’s.  This uh-mazing Greek Diner, situated underneath the entrance to the 39th Avenue subway entrance, is just like what you imagine a city diner to be – homey, flavorful, with waitstaff that remembers how you like your bacon.  Their burgers are outstanding.  I love Zante’s because it’s one of those awesome places that tends to be overlooked due to its location, but it’s a gem of a place, and a lifesaver for us on weekend mornings.  You know we love our diner food up in this joint, so I’m speaking the truth here.  We’re practically diner connoisseurs at this stage.  Plus, the coffee’s fresh, hot, and your cup is always filled promptly.  

(I am starting to realize an emerging trend with caffeine here, are you?)



photo credit

3.  Alewife

This is the place that started it all in terms of my husband owning a bar (he’s known the Alewife owners since our days in Baltimore, and met his current business partner through this place). Alewife is a destination craft-beer bar on a quiet street just off Long Island City’s main thoroughfare of Vernon Boulevard, and around the corner from the 7 train.  It’s a former warehouse that, while outfitted in metal and wood, still feels cozy despite its high ceilings.  I am a die-hard oyster lover, and here they’re always fresh and briny and served with a perfect vinegary mignonette.  When I gave up meat for Lent last year, I purposely chose my first burger back to be Alewife’s Classic, with a fat slab of pork belly on top and a side of gralicky shoestring fries.  If that doesn’t sway you, I don’t know what will. 


4.  Sage General Store

People like to ask me what my favorite thing to cook is, and I never know how to answer.  (ok, the answer is ALL THE THINGS, but that feels lengthy).  In truth, my favorite type of food is rustic American, a genre of cooking that’s still sometimes finding its place in cuisine.  I love a restaurant that serves rustic food well, and Sage General is one of those places.  It’s tiny, and comforting, and the food is always fresh and the waitstaff friendly.  I don’t ask for much in a restaurant except for those things, to be honest, and Sage is one of the first places I always recommend when people ask me where to eat in the neighborhood. Their menu changes with the season, but their pasta is always a sure bet as well as the cheddar biscuits.  And don’t skip the bacon brownie for dessert- weird as it sounds, the smoky bacon flavor just ups the chocolate factor.

photo credit

5. John Brown’s Smokehouse

Last but not least, I’ve saved for you the creme de la creme of Long Island City dining.  Situated on a slightly run-down quiet street at the edge of the neighborhood and in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline is John Brown’s Smokehouse, home of the best BBQ I’ve had east of KC.  The house hot sauces are incredibly flavorful; I like to mix the hot hot with the regular hot in a 2:3 ratio, which is the perfect amount of heat to have on the side of your mac & cheese and fatty pork belly.  When it comes to ordering off the menu (which is scrawled on the wall as you come in, there is no tableside service up in here) do not skip the Burnt Ends.  They’re exactly as they sound- odds and ends off the briskets, bellies and flanks, and they are the best part of the entire menu.  The beer list is fantastic, too, with lots of regional and out-of-the-way craft beers on tap, and they have a back patio for outdoor dining in nice weather.  


So? Have I convinced you yet of the charms of my little ‘hood?  Long Island City- so unsung in terms of New York neighborhoods, it makes me almost forget I’m not in Manhattan.  (I said almost)


Show me  your favorite spots to eat, stay and play in your hometown and win a getaway to any of the US cities featured in Earth’s Finest City Guide! To participate, just upload an image of your favorite spot in your hometown to Twitter or Instagram with hashtag #myhometownguide and you will be entered to win automatically.


Filed under Restaurant Reviews, Sponsored Posts