It feels tired to write about life/career/parenting balance, but I’m going to anyway because 1) It’s on my mind all. the. time. and 2) A recent episode of After the Jump altered my perspective on the matter in a wonderful way.
If you’re not already listening to Gracey Bonney’s podcast, I highly recommend it. Her words are energizing, informative, and ideal for any creative or entrepreneur (current or aspiring). For her 100th episode, Grace recounted lessons she’s learned from hosting the podcast, one of which concerns the myth of achieving balance. I strongly relate to her old internal negotiations – If I just eat more greens, or better prioritize exercise, or carve out more time here or there, I’ll get it right. She says: “There is no perfect balance. Life and work are always a series of back and forth adjustments and a constant game of checks and balances.” Aha. A game. Now that’s an angle I can get behind. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it will still feel a bit like a round of Tetris where the pieces are falling too rapidly and landing in all the wrong places, but if I can get back to that place where I feel like it’s “just a game” then I’ll be okay.
And tomorrow I’ll be a savvier player.
Last week was characterized by more rounds lost than won. Ben was out of town, the weather was the pits, and I stress ate to the max, making me feel crappier and less on my parenting and work game. I muddled through it, but I’m glad to be on the other side and in a place where I can finally share these killer muffins with you.
If the combination of banana, peanut butter, bacon, and rye sounds strange to you, hear me out, because I’ve tested this recipe on plenty and to consistent commendation. They’re a mash-up of the ingredients in an Elvis sandwich (banana, peanut butter, and bacon), and a sandwich my dad introduced me to that layers peanut butter and bacon on rye bread. The addition of rye to the Elvis combo adds a deep, almost spicy undercurrent that grounds the other sweet, nutty, and salty flavors.
But as they say, you don’t have to take my word for it. Give them a try and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to it, because I’m totally winning this week.
The muffins are best served warm or room temperature IF your home isn’t too cool. The heat in our apartment hasn’t been keeping up with the cold weather, so I popped these in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes before eating the next day. They need no adornment, but a slick of peanut butter makes them a heartier snack. Looking for something a little lighter? Try these strawberry and banana rye muffins.
Elvis Rye Muffins
1 c dark rye flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large or 4 small overripe bananas
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c honey
1/4 c plain yogurt
1/2 lb bacon, fried and crumbled
2 tbsp caraway seeds
In a medium bowl, whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Grease or line a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mash the bananas using a fork or potato masher until mostly smooth (it’s okay if a few small chunks remain). Whisk in, one at a time, the peanut butter, honey, yogurt, and eggs until each is just incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated, then fold in the crumbled bacon.
Add 1/4 c batter to each muffin cup and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Makes about 16 muffins
This week, I finally caught up on my blog feed after getting horribly backlogged over the holidays. I couldn’t bring myself to “mark all as read” because I have serious FOMO, but honestly I’m glad I took the time because my favorite blogs killed it – wrapping up 2014 and starting off 2015 right. I also just read Lean In, so I’m either two months or two years behind, depending on your yardstick.
Bearing that in mind, today’s recipe is not Valentine’s Day themed, as that would require the kind of forethought I can only applaud others for commanding. I dream of being that kind of writer one day. Except not really because I’m too busy dreaming about a full night’s sleep.
(But rest assured I will not miss Pi Day, partly because pie and partly because this.)
What I have for you instead of a chocolate dessert or romantic dinner menu is something more unassuming - I think “humble” is a good word for lentils – but no less rousing to eat. I love lentils’ earthiness but sometimes their texture is lackluster, so for this dish they get a little makeover via a fry in a hot skillet to become satisfyingly crispy. For extra crunch, I add chopped walnuts that become aromatic as they cook alongside the legumes. Everything is coated in a generous sprinkling of za’atar, an herbaceous and tangy spice blend of sumac, sesame seeds, and thyme. The sesame seeds also toast up in the pan, deepening their flavor. Oh, and I threw some kale in there for some extra goodness, to find it also became delightfully crisp at the edges.
I’d been coming back to this dish for a while, especially to use up leftover lentils, but didn’t find it notable enough to share until I began adding lemon zest. See, there are a lot of hearty flavors going on here, and they needed a little uplift. The zest brings a brightness to the meal that simultaneously balances and boosts it. Topped with a fried egg, I’ve been relishing it for breakfast, although it could just as easily stand in for lunch.
So there you have it, your non-Valentine’s Day recipe. It’s not glamorous, but it’s really good.
Crispy Lentils with Walnuts and Za’atar
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 c julienned kale
1 c cooked lentils, cooled and patted dry*
1/2 c roughly chopped walnuts
1 tsp za’atar
2 tsp lemon zest
Add a splash of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the kale and saute until bright green. Stir in the lentils, walnuts, za’atar, and two big pinches of salt and continue to saute until the lentils are crispy and walnuts are fragrant. This whole process takes 7-10 minutes.Stir in the lemon zest.
At this point if your skillet is large enough you can move the lentil mixture to the side, otherwise divide it among two plates before frying the eggs. Add another big splash of olive oil to the pan, crack in the eggs, and sprinkle each with a little salt. Cover and cook until the edges are crispy, whites are just set, and yolks still runny. Plate the eggs over the lentils and serve warm.
*I like to keep my lentils in a mesh strainer overnight in the fridge to cool and drip/air dry.The drier the lentils are, the more easily they’ll crisp up.
I look to numerous sources for recipe ideas, but one of the more unusual is…myself. Or, my previous self. Sometimes I scan the archives of my old (deleted) blog to see what we were eating half a decade ago, and I’m always kind of impressed by the creative, vegetable-centric meals I was cooking up back then.
Case in point: kimchi breakfast pizza. This recipe is just lightly adapted from one I posted years ago and it’s just as good as I remember. Of course, when I originally made it the kimchi was homemade using cabbage from a local farm, and this time around it’s from FreshDirect and put me back ten dollars for about two cups’ worth.
I often put kimchi in my scrambled eggs. It’s like hot sauce but more sophisticated – spicy, yes, but also tangy, savory, and almost a little effervescent. This breakfast pizza takes that concept up a notch by adding salty-crisp bacon and assembling it all atop chewy-yet-light carbs (always a good idea).
After a lot of hit-and-miss attempts to achieve a cooked egg white with a runny yolk, I’ve finally settled on separating the egg and adding the yolk at the end of the cook time, assuring it will be the warm, saucy deliciousness I adore. In the future, I’m interested in trying A Couple Cooks‘ method (found via Molly Yeh) of reducing the baking temperature to get the eggs right.
Kimchi Breakfast Pizza
1/4 lb pizza dough
1/4 c kimchi, roughly chopped
2 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
flour for rolling
Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 525 degrees F. (If your oven doesn’t go that high, set it to its max temperature and increase cooking time slightly.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to 1/8th-inch thickness. Transfer the dough to parchment paper and brush lightly with olive oil. Spread the kimchi and bacon around the dough, leaving space in the middle for the egg.
Separate the egg, add the white to the center of the pizza, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Move the pizza, on the parchment paper, to the oven and bake until the white is almost set, about 5 minutes. Add the yolk to the middle of the pizza and cook another 2 minutes. Serve immediately.