Category: food

Read // Eat: Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars from ‘Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel’

Looking for recipes from Kitchens Of The Great Midwest? Want a great recipe for peanut butter bars? Click through for a great recipe inspired by this best-selling novel!

Looking for recipes from Kitchens Of The Great Midwest? Trying to win book clubs with a great recipe for peanut butter bars? Luckily, our boy Ben has us covered.

Early last month I found myself at a neighbor’s pied-à-terre for a small Post Holiday We Never Celebrated New Years Together And Needed To Unwind Party (a.k.a. Friday Night). A much-needed swig of the moonshine jar and a sampling of pimento cheese helped pass our time as we recounted our crazy holiday family stories.

I started chatting with my new upstairs neighbor, Bobby (names naturally changed). Turns out Bobby is from Iowa. That square plot of land south of my home state and happens to be home to the world’s largest ball of popcorn (worth a drive, trust me).

And so we began our discussion of Midwest Life and opened a small aching wound of homesickness that I assumed would pass as quickly as the pimento cheese.

Oddly, the next day while thumbing through Goodreads a book jumped out at me: Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradal grabbed my attention like a new release on Netflix.

After downloading my copy, I soon found myself deep in the story of Eva, a child of a chef and sommelier, who finds herself in a less than perfect food situation when taken in by extended family.

Through the eyes and stories of others, we learn what happens to Eva as she grows into a chef. From her early days in midwestern Mexican restaurants to charging $5000 a head at dinner parties, Eva’s story is varied and tasteful. Stradal sprinkles his novel with actual recipes from his home state of Minnesota giving us a full menu to eat/read along with.

Now, I read recipes like some people read Buzzfeed (with full rapture and awe) so when I came across his recipe for Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars I had to make them. Like many Midwest-based bars (not drinking establishments but desserts bars) Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars are simple and can be whipped up in a jiff if the local pastor stops by for a round of euchre.

Side note before I give you the recipe: I kept my bars in the fridge after making them. Over the course of a week I ate the whole pan. Sometimes it was a quick bite in the middle of the night. Sometimes it was a whole row after a tough day at the office. Make them. Maybe share them. Just maybe.

recipe from Kitchens of the Great Midwest A Novel'

Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars recipe from Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel


  • 2 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup melted Grade A butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon Grade A butter


1. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Pat into a greased 9-by-13 inch pan.

2. Melt the chips and butter and spread them on top of the bars.

3. Set in the refrigerator until firm. Cut into bars.

Fellow midwesterners, what are your favorite recipes? I also love a good lemon bar!

P.S. Recipes from The Devil In The White City, The Interestings, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Read // Eat: Piccalilli from ‘Outlander: The Fiery Cross’

One of the best, most interesting recipes from Outlander! And it's (relatively) healthy! //

This post comes to us via my dear friend/food stylist Benjamin Plante! You can read his hilarious food blog here or drool over his Instagram here.

Friends, I’m going to be honest and tell you that I was unable to finish this mammoth book!

Not because it couldn’t keep my attention, but because I was traveling every week for work last month. And because I didn’t feel comfortable reading it in public places, like airports.

Why didn’t I feel comfortable reading this book in public places you ask? Well, the Outlander series falls into a category of books I feel is best enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own home. Perhaps even one’s own bedroom.

If you pick up what I am throwing down.

There are some steamy parts that can ignite the imagination. Especially if you have a thing for Scottish brutes or any man with an accent outside of “you betcha”.

All joking aside, I can say from what I have read in the Outlander series, and from what I have heard from fans of the book, this is a great romance/adventure/history/”imagination sparking” book to settle in for a long winter’s read with.

The story follows Claire on her second honeymoon just after World War II as she mysteriously is thrown back in time a couple hundred years to the same remote area of Scotland. She finds herself in a time where men are a bit more savage (not to forget kilted) and women are expected to be more demure. Having been an army nurse and an independent modern woman, you can imagine the adjustment Claire is forced to understand in her new life.

What has me most intrigued by this series it the fan base. One Google search of Outlander and you’ll find  fans all over the world. Outlander Kitchen is a recipe site created by Theresa Carle-Sanders. Carle-Sanders is a professional chef and “unabashed fan of…the Outlander series.”

After much deliberation, I landed on Mrs.Bug’s Piccalilli from The Fiery Cross (I believe the fifth in the series). Fairly easy to make, Piccalilli can be preserved by the standard canning method if you are so inclined. Or you can keep it an airtight container in your refrigerator for a few weeks. Trust me it will not be wasted.

Below you will find the recipe from Outlander Kitchen. If, after hours lost on the website you want to have it all, know that her cookbook by the same name will be available for purchase in Summer 2016.

recipes from outlander

Mrs. Bug’s Piccalilli from The Fiery Cross

Yield: approx. 2 Quarts (2 Litres)


1 Medium Cauliflower, trimmed, cored & divided into small florets – 5 Cups
½ English Cucumber, deseeded & chopped in ¼” dice – 1¼ Cups
1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled & julienned – 1½ Cups
3 Handfuls Green Beans, trimmed & chopped in ¼” dice – 1¼ Cups
1 Medium Carrot, peeled & grated – ½ Cup
Coarse Salt – 1½ Tbsp
Turmeric – 1 Tbsp
Mustard Powder – ½ Cup
All-Purpose Flour – ½ Cup
Ground White Pepper – ½ tsp
Ground Nutmeg – ½ tsp
Cider Vinegar – 1 Cup
Malt Vinegar – 1 Cup


Mix together the vegetables and salt in a large bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the vegetables.

Mix the turmeric, flour, pepper and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Add ½ cup water and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in the cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan with the vegetables and malt vinegar.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.  The sauce will begin to thicken — you should have vegetables coated with a thick, but not gloopy, sauce — add a little water if the sauce seems too thick. Remove from the heat.

To can, ladle the piccalilli into hot, sterilised canning jars, cap and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

New to canning?  You’ll find detailed information and instructions here.

New-School Tips:

  • If you’re not up to canning, you should know that Piccalilli can also be kept, covered, in the fridge for several weeks.  It makes a great hostess gift!
  • If you prefer your piccalilli on the sweeter side, add a ¼-½ cup light brown sugar into the saucepan at the same time as the malt vinegar.
  • Too much piccalilli for you?  This recipe is easily cut in half (or even in thirds).

Old School Tips:

  • Fresh-grated nutmeg is so much better (and so much stronger) than the pre-ground stuff.  Reduce the amount to ¼ tsp if you are grating your own.

Are you guys Outlander fans? And how do you feel about the tv show?!

P.S. Recipes from To Kill A Mockingbird, The Hunger Games, and The Goldfinch.

Mornings In: Greece

What's a typical Greek breakfast and beauty routine? Is there any truth to the saying that the traditional Greek breakfast is a frappe and a cigarette? //
: Danai Christopoulou
Hometown: Athens, Greece
Age: 31
Occupation: Part-time baker. Full-time Editorial Director at Savoteur. Full-time cat lady.
My alarm is set for 9:00 am. And then 9:15 am. And then 9:30 am. The morning struggle is real.

My Greek breakfast

I’ll just go out and say it, I don’t really do breakfast. (Unless it’s the weekend and there’s booze involved.) If left to my own devices I’ll just sip on a ridiculously long cold brew coffee all morning and it won’t be until 2 pm that I’ll start craving some solid food.

But recently I downloaded this fitness app called Lifesum which has been really eye-opening and I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat more frequently, so I’ll opt for a cheese pie (on good days, I may have baked it myself) or a koulouri, a kind of thin and crispy bagel that has a whole in it and you can find it at various street-food carts all around the city and in most bakeries. Or I’ll do a plain yogurt. (By the way, I recently tasted “Greek yogurt” in the US … yeah, no, that’s not what our yogurt tastes like.)

It may be a cultural thing too: I saw a GIF once that claimed  “traditional Greek breakfast consists of a Frappe coffee and a cigarette.” I don’t think that’s very far from the truth. Although we do have our share of fitness-crazed hipsters who will get up at 6 am to make spinach smoothies, and we also have a tradition in making amazing jams (which most people will have on non-toasted bread, with butter, usually in the weekend), Greeks are not that big on breakfast.

We do love our pies though, cheese and spinach phyllo pies mostly: You will see many people munching on them on their way to work or at their office. And we love Merenda, the Greek version of Nutella (but thicker and more chocolatey), which we will have on toast — some of us even after we’ve stopped being 8-year olds.

Around Greek Easter, we are big on tsoureki, which is kind of like a fluffy babka. Add some Merenda on it and you have the definition of happiness (although my fitness app may disagree).


What's a typical Greek breakfast and beauty routine? Is there any truth to the saying that the traditional Greek breakfast is a frappe and a cigarette? //

My Greek beauty routine:

I always take long showers in the morning and then shampoo and condition my hair with Argan oil. I have very thin, straight hair so I usually never blow-dry (to prevent heat damage) and bless our warm climate for letting my hair dry naturally without me getting pneumonia. Most Greek women though will blow-dry and straighten their hair daily.

As for makeup, there are two ways I can go about it: either not-at-all, or all-out. I can get away with either: My company has an outpost in NY and one in Athens, and in the Athens one, it’s just four guys and me and I sincerely believe I could do a clown makeup and they still wouldn’t notice.

On the “I can’t be bothered” days, I’ll just apply a primer under my eyes (instead of a concealer) and opt for a bold red, orange or fuchsia lipstick that I hope draws the attention away from my un-madeup face.

On the days that I’m feeling it, though, I’ll go all in. I’ve recently converted to contouring and highlighting and sing the praises of my Beauty Blender. I’ll do a base, which I will mix with some of my face hydrating cream for better absorption. Then, I’ll use my concealer and Beauty Blender sponge to highlight the areas under my eyes, between my brows, my chin, and the lower part of my cheeks.

Most Greek women love blush and bronzers, but then again most of them have slightly darker skin than me so terracotta tones actually look great and healthy on them. I tried it once. People were concerned that someone punched me in the face. Finally, I’ll apply the lipstick on my lips.

I use Korres products, an awesome Greek brand that’s actually available abroad and cannot recommend it enough. They have the best concealer on the market and some great lipstick shades. I also love Benefit cosmetics for base, primer, setting powder, eyebrow shadowsand colored eyeliners. My mascaras are usually Maybelline.

My Greek commute:

This awesome Greek app called Taxibeat – it’s like Uber, but way better as it lets you actually choose a driver based on their ratings (and you can see if they have wifi on board, if they accept pets and if they speak any languages apart from Greek). Taxis aren’t really that expensive in Greece so Taxibeat is always my go-to choice. That being said, we do have an awesome Metro (new and clean) that most people use

Thanks so much for sharing, Danai! Greek readers – do you agree? What does your breakfast and beauty routine look like?

P.S. Breakfast + beauty routines in Pakistan, Estonia, and The Philippines!

Mornings In: Costa Rica

Wondering about Costa Rican beauty routines or what Costa Rican breakfast? Click through for beauty product recommendations and breakfast suggestions from a local!

Name: Diana Ninette

Hometown: San José, Costa Rica

Age: 23

Occupation: Engineering in topography and geodesy

My alarm is set for 5:30 am

My Costa Rican breakfast

Costa Rica is a tropical country so we have a lot of fruit. Most of the time I eat strawberries, watermelon, kiwi, melons and mangos. Fruit is so easy to get – I literally have fruit trees in my backyard.

If there isn’t any fruit in the house, I eat bread with butter (soy butter) and cup of tea or coffee (our coffee is one of the best in the world). I eat this kind of breakfasts because it is so easy to prepare on my hurried mornings.

When we have time to cook, we eat our traditional breakfast. This consists of  “gallo pinto” (rice mixed with beans) with bread or tortillas, a couple of eggs, cheese, maybe bacon and orange juice or coffee.

Wondering about Costa Rican beauty routines or what Costa Rican breakfast? Click through for beauty product recommendations and breakfast suggestions from a local!costa-rican-beauty-products

My Costa Rican beauty routine

Costa Rican women are taught to take care of our skin. Since it’s always wet and hot here it’s very important to use sunscreen and prepare the skin (with moisturizing and primer) for the make-up.

I like to keep my makeup simple and light – powder, brow pencil, nude eye shadows, waterproof eyeliner, good quality mascara, blush and a lipstick (with sunscreen). I try not use foundation or concealer, because with the hot weather, my pores open and the foundation get inside my face.

We usually use makeup brands from all over the world – France, UK, USA, China, Mexico and more. But we use a very popular and local rose’s cream as moisturizing, produced by Laboratorio de Productos Farmacéuticos de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CSSS).

My Costa Rican commute

I go to work by car, takes me 1 hour to head to work when there is a lot of traffic, but when there is no traffic takes me 15 minutes.

Thanks so much for sharing, Diana! Do we have any other Costa Rican readers? What does your morning routine look like?

P.S. An email to my body

photos by alex // armando maynez // jen // krista sylvia // ramnath bhat // cc

Read // Eat: Applesauce Cake from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

Looking for a Christmas recipe from 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever'? Click through for a great holiday recipe for applesauce cake!

This post comes to us via my dear friend/food stylist Benjamin Plante! You can read his hilarious food blog here or drool over his Instagram here.

It’s officially the time of year when this Jew cranks the Christmas music, stocks up on Tom and Jerry batter, and does his best to allow room for his cold Grinch heart to grow three sizes due to schmaltzy holiday-themed entertainment.

Be it a well-timed Hallmark movie or a dirt-covered Peanut telling me the meaning of Christmas, this Jew loves a Christmas cry.

This month for our Yes & Yes book club, I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I’m going to assume that this gem of a story from last century has been widely read by many and I was just late to the party because this then-Gentile was too busy being jealous of the Glickman kid getting to use the tonal blues and whites at holiday craft time in elementary school.

Let me start by saying I cried at 30,000 feet reading this book.


Read // Eat: Jollof Rice from ‘Americanah’

Looking for a recipe from Americanah? Want to impress the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie fans in your life? Click through for a great Nigerian recipe for Jollof rice!

Looking for a recipe from Americanah? Want to impress the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie fans in your life? Me, too! Luckily, our boy Ben is hooking us up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah came highly recommended. As is with other parts of my life, I turned to my friends to gauge whether or not this novel would pique my interest or leave me grumbling in bed, dry-eyed, and disappointed that I was missing a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation on cable.

One friend’s reply was so passionate (sent in all CAPS so we know they meant it) I knew no way I could ignore my bedside library.

With peer pressure set to high, I settled in with a bottle of wine and got acquainted with Adichie’s leading woman and man, Ifemalu and Obinze.

We meet Ifemalu, a well-established blogger writing about race in America from an African point of view, as she makes her way from Princeton to nearby Trenton to get her hair braided. While en route, she lays the foundation for a love story that crosses oceans, spans decades, and may hit too close to home at times. Thankfully, Adichie injects plenty of wit and gumption along the way.

Obinze starts this story as a married family man, still in Nigeria and doing very well in real estate. About half a bottle of wine in, his story takes us to England on an adventure of illegal documents and undesirable jobs as he struggles to make his American Dream a reality.

Since, I’m always thinking about my next meal, you can imagine I was drawn to the food of this book. Adichie references food subtlely. The man on the train platform eating his ice cream; the inexperienced journalist unsure of the American deli spread at a fancy Nigerian party; the fish and chips shared by Obinze and his maybe future wife.

I have a standing rule of not frying fish where I sleep so I passed on the idea of fish and chips. Instead, I settled on jollof rice (what I will preemptively describe as DELICIOUS!)

Mentioned periodically throughout the novel, jollof rice is a traditional meal served for a variety of occasions. This rice, tomato, and chicken based dish can be made in many different fashions, from complex to simple. I opted to try one with a moderate amount of work. However, I will say it can be a good beginner’s recipe (and inexpensive at that!)

jollof rice ingredients


Jollof Rice recipe from ‘Americanah’

Recipe Inspired from Jamie Oliver


8 chicken thighs
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground white pepper
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, on the vine
4 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 chili peppers, deseeded and chopped
A bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
50oz chicken stock
2.5 cups long grain rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs with the ground coriander, white pepper and a pinch of salt. Add a glug of oil to a large saucepan and fry the chicken over a medium heat for 7–8 minutes, until browned all over.

Transfer the chicken to a medium-sized roasting pan and cook in the oven for 30–40 minutes, until golden, adding the cherry tomatoes to the pan halfway through.

Meanwhile, using the same pan you browned the chicken in, add a splash of oil and sauté the onions, garlic, chili and parsley stalks over a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes, then pour in the chicken stock.

Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, pop the lid on and let it bubble away for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding water if it gets too dry.

Finally, stir in the parsley leaves followed by the cooking juices and cherry tomatoes (discarding the stalk) from the roasting pan. Mix well, squashing the tomatoes into the rice.
Serve the rice with the chicken pieces on top and lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

*Note on the recipe: I halved the recipe and it made enough for my single self to eat it for three days at both lunch and dinner.

Have you guys read Americanah yet? It is, hands down, the best novel I’ve read in YEARS. Go read it right this second! And then read Purple Hibiscus, too!

P.S. Lamb stew from The Hunger Games + 5 Louisiana foods that will change your life + diet.