spinach and artichoke dip pizza

recipe for spinach and artichoke dip pizza

 

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the recipe you never knew you needed…until now. At least that was the case for me—it wasn’t until I was out to dinner Friday night and has a slice of spinach and artichoke dip PIZZA that I was like, “Wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute. I MUST MAKE THIS.” Yeah—that’s pretty much an accurate look into how this all went down. Because really, who wouldn’t want spinach and artichoke dip on a pizza?

 

pizza dough

 

We’re huge fans of making homemade pizza in our apartment. Sure, takeout is great (and sometimes veryyyy necessary) but when does pizza not arrive soggy and a bit cold? Rarely, right? Making an A++ homemade pizza is actually much easier than it seems—I don’t even bother making my own dough, but just abide by one secret method: a pizza stone. I seriously swear by Emma (yes, we’ve named our pizza stone Emma Stone) when making pizza at the apartment—it speeds up the process and helps you achieve that sought-after crispy crust.

 

pizza making technique

Start with store bought dough at room temperature (very important!) on a floured surface. Using your finger tips, start pushing the dough outward in a circle, like shown above (while politely ignoring my terrible nail polish…). Once you’ve made it considerably larger, you can start stretching it using the palms of your hands and gentle clockwise “circles” (kind of like you would wash a car—weird comparison, I know). Place on a piece of parchment paper and set aside.

 

spinach and artichokes

 

Next, you’ll want to make your spinach and artichoke dip—if you’re not feeling pizza, you can use this recipe for dip instead!

 

You’ll need:

  • One container/bag fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (not in a marinade!), chopped roughly

 

spinach and artichoke dip pizza

 

In a small pan, cook the spinach in boiling water until bright green and wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander, squeeze out excess water, chop roughly and set aside. Turn on your oven to 500 degrees, placing your pizza stone inside to heat along with the oven.

 

In a sauce pan set to medium-high heat, saute the garlic, onion and butter in a pan until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are softened and a bit translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are coated and the flour is “toasted,” about another 2 minutes. Pour in the milk, then whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened considerably and is just on the edge of a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan, a bit of salt and pepper and the sour cream until combined.

 

Return the pot to medium heat and add the chopped spinach, chopped artichoke hearts and shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted.

 

spinach and artichoke dip pizza recipe

 

With your dough on a bit of parchment paper, give it another good stretch out. Top generously with your spinach and artichoke dip—you will use almost the whole recipe, but the bit left over you can save to snack on throughout the week! You should have a pretty thick, chunky layer. Top with about a cup (or a bit more) of mozzarella cheese. Transfer your pizza, parchment paper and all, onto your pizza stone that’s been pre-heating in the oven (Careful! It will be extremely hot!).

 

recipe for spinach and artichoke pizza

 

Cook at 500 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until the crust and cheese have browned and the bottom of the pizza is nice and solid (you want a good base for all that delicious spinach and artichoke dip!). Allow it to sit for 4-5 minutes out of the oven before slicing and sharing. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

entertaining must haves for a stress-free night

entertaining must haves

 

I love entertaining friends. Whether it’s a group before a night out or a dinner at home with girlfriends, there is nothing that makes me happier than the whole hosting shindig—cleaning the apartment, setting the scene and cooking up a yummy meal. It’s easy, however, for entertaining to quickly go from delightful to stressful. Here are a few things you should make, have on hand or do to ensure a stress-free, enjoyable evening (for everyone…including you!).

 

HAVE: Pretty Serving Platters

A gorgeous serving plate or platter can do half of the work for you in the event of a dinner party. It makes any dish an instant stand out and helps your guests think you spent all day planning and prepping in the kitchen—even if you’re just plating up delivery (hey, no judgements here!). I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a few basic white options in their cabinets (I love platters with gorgeous edges, like this one or this one from Anthropologie)—but for a more special vibe, I’m really into the watercolor-inspired pink and navy platters for Suite One Studio. I’m dying for them to come back in stock to snatch one up!

 

CREATE: A Good Playlist

Every dinner, party or pre-game needs a good playlist. There’s always a different vibe you’re gaming for depending on the occasion, but I love Spotify to help me craft the perfect playlist. I’ll either throw on my “cooking” playlist (lots of french, italian and mo-town music…It’s a weird mix, but it works!) or play an artist’s radio, like The Black Keys, Ray Lamontagne or The National. Eventually someone always wants to play DJ, so it’s good to have options on hand.

 

FIND: A Way for Guests to Help

Your guests are always going to want to help out (at least, it’s likely if they are polite, grateful people), but having a lot of cooks in the kitchen—literally—can get a bit hectic. Find a task or two to delegate to guests inquiring for ways to help—whether that’s manning the bar, lining up appetizers or washing the dishes. Everyone will feel like they’re lending a hand and pulling their weight.

 

LIGHT: A Few Unscented Candles

Candles set such a wonderful ambiance that I can’t imagine a party (or even a night in) without them. If you’re looking to scent your home, light a lightly scented candle a few hours before guests arrive, but once people start coming in, it’s time for strictly unscented candles and tea lights only. You don’t want to give any scent-sensitive guests a headache (Trust me, I’m very scent-sensitive and it’s the worst) or light anything that it going to compete with the smell of any delicious meal you’re making.

 

ENSURE: Extra Seating in a Pinch

If you live in a small apartment, like me, chances are you have seating for oh…about 6 people total. Because we don’t even have a kitchen table, seating is often in short supply when we’re hosting a crowd. Once the couches have filled up, we usually pull out extra chairs that we have at our desk or in our rooms. Another great option? Flour poufs and pillows. I love the large and pouf-y striped styles from Hedgehouse—their perfect for company to perch on when they’re over, and they stash easily away when your home returns to normal.

 

BUY: A Made-Ahead Dessert

In my opinion, dessert is one place where it’s OK to skimp a bit when you’re hosting a big dinner party. Don’t get me wrong, I love making a good dessert, but I find that people are in general a bit over it once the time for dessert rolls around. They’re getting antsy at the table, are really full or just want to get back to socializing. Do yourself a favor and stick to something pre-made or store bought from a delicious bakery. You won’t feel bad if people are less-than-interested in it, and your guests probably won’t know the difference.

 

STASH: An Extra Dish Drying Rack

This is a must have party hack for anyone in an apartment without a dish washer (like me!). Have an extra dish drying rack on hand to keep the dishes from piling up in the sink. No one wants to spend their party up to their elbows in suds scrubbing leftover dinner from dishes, right? So scrape them off, put them onto a rack and stash them in another room (heck, even a bathroom) until you have time to wash them later.

 

 

 

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eggs in a frame

cheesy egg in a frame recipe

 

 

If you’re looking for your new favorite weekend breakfast dish, look no further than eggs in a frame. I can’t even take credit for this dish—I’ve had this for as long as I can remember every time I’ve slept over my roommate’s parent’s house—it’s her Dad’s signature breakfast dish. I knew I wanted to try it out for the blog, and I gave it my own little twist with cheese (I mean, are you surprised?). It’s cozy and yummy and light—perfect for a winter breakfast!

 

bread for egg in a frame egg gruyere cheese

 

 

You’ll need:

  • Fresh bread, sliced thin
  • Butter
  • Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Eggs
  • Non-stick spray, like Pam

egg in a frame

 

 

To start, remove the centers of the bread in a circle—you can use a cookie cutter if you have one on hand, but a glass (which is what I used) works just as well! Butter each side of the toast and the removed hole—you’re definitely going to want to save that, it’s the best to dip in the runny eggs! Place into the pan and toast until lightly browned, then flip to toast the other side.

 

egg in a frame breakfast recipe

While the other side of the bread is toasting, sprinkle cheese atop the side that was toasted first. Spray the center of the hole with a bit of non-stick spray, then crack an egg in the middle, cooking until the whites are 90% cooked.  Flip again and cook very briefly on the other side (or a bit longer, if you like your yolks more solid).

 

cheesy egg in a frame breakfast recipe

 

 

Serve warm alongside some fresh coffee and the bread hole—perfect for dipping into the runny yolk!

 

 

9 home decor shops stealing my $$

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Lately, I’m not nearly as excited by the idea of updating my wardrobe as I am by the idea of updating my home decor. My roommates and I are planning a living room makeover (more on that later!) and I can’t stop scouring home decor sites for cute pillows, rugs and accessories for my bedroom (seriously, someone needs to reel me in…).

 

Nothing can replace walking through a home decor shop and feeling and touching the goods, but there are some times (like in below zero temps in NYC) where you just have to shop online. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite home decor online destinations for you, below! Let me warn you though—these house some pretty picks! Your bank account has been warned.

leif shop

Leif is a great home decor shop filled with handmade goods, ceramics and textiles. They feel very California cool to me and everything is made in pretty soft pastels or vibrant blues.

 

Top picks: Swiss dot platter // Sprinkles napkin // Mini planter

 

 

schoolhouse electric

Schoolhouse Electric Supply Co. started—perhaps obviously—by producing lighting fixtures. They’ve since expanded their range to include home decor, housewares, furniture and even jewelry—all in their signature minimalistic, cool aesthetic.

 

Top picks: Kelly throw // Library ladder // Desk lamp 

 

lulu and georgia

Surely most everyone is familiar with Lulu & Georgia, but I couldn’t help but include them on my list. I find their selection of lamps, rugs, accessories and more so unbelievably curated and tasteful—I’m always guaranteed to fall in love with a cart full of pretty things every time I enter their URL.

 

Top picks: Even keel mirror // Side table // Magazine holder 

 

 

keri herer photography

 

Etsy is one of my favorite places to find unique and special art prints and photography, and stumbling on Keri Herer’s shop felt like a real win. I’m definitely picking out one of her gorgeous floral photographs for our new living room decor.

 

Top picks: Giraffe // Dark botanical no. 6 // Light botanical no. 12

 

the little market

Brain child of Lauren Conrad, The Little Market is a company that connects with makers in developing nations to help gifted artisans make a living. Not only is the mission admirable, but they feature gorgeous handmade goods that feel super special and unique.

 

Top picks: Herringbone hamper // Striped towel // Painted floral tray

 

up in the air

Another Etsy gem of a find, Up in the Air Somewhere has A) the cutest shop name and B) the cutest stuff. I love their watercolor-inspired bowls and dishes. So pretty!

 

Top Pick: Peach pot // Zig zag tray // Yellow fade bowl 

 

chairish

Chairish is kind of the coolest site ever. Think of it as a curated eBay, where all the furniture and decor being sold is completely legitimate—certified vintage, mid-century modern console tables and gorgeous ethnic rugs. It’s like a fun treasure hunt!

 

Top picks: Campaign table // Turkish rug // Mid-century bar cart 

 

bohem

Bohem is a way cool home decor shop I ducked into with my co-worker while on location in Utah for work. It’s owned by a husband and wife team who spent a lot of time living in India and working with local artisans in the area. Their textiles and rugs are some of the best I’ve seen lately!

 

Top picks: Dhurrie rug // Candle // Pillow

pineapple bay

I’m having a moment with watercolor florals lately, so when I stumbled upon Pineapple Bay Studio on Etsy, I immediately wanted to buy…well, everything! The colors are vibrant and lovely, and the prints are available in pretty much every good you can imagine (even wrapping paper!)

Top Picks: Pillow // Notebook // Greeting cards

 

 

 

 

 

top image via

blistered tomato and lobster pasta

lobster pasta recipe

 

 

This pasta is one of the most faux-fancy dishes ever. I mean, it looks a bit fancy, right? And it has lobster in it so it sounds fancy, right? Only it’s super simply, super flavorful and a great reason to eat pasta every day of the week for lunch and dinner (as if you needed an excuse). Eat now, thank me later.

 

fresh lobster tails

 

fresh tomatoes and basil

 

You’ll need:

  • 2 cartons of cherry tomatoes
  • 12-15 pieces of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 fresh lobster tails, cut into small pieces
  • spaghetti
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Toss cherry tomatoes on a baking tray with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 375 until tomatoes are a bit pruned and softened. Set aside. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a separate large saute pan, add the garlic and olive oil and simmer on low heat until garlic is softened and fragrant.

white whine tomato basil sauce

 

Add the chopped lobster to the pan, along with the roasted tomatoes, ripped up basil and white wine and saute on medium-low heat, breaking up the roasted tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

tomato, white wine and lobster pasta recipe

 

 

Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and toss amongst the sauce until fully coated. Serve with grated parmesan and an additional sprig of fresh basil. Enjoy!

 

 

 

how to stay sane traveling for work

stay sane while traveling

 

 

You may have noticed from my Instagram, but I’ve been doing a ton of traveling for work lately (in fact, I’m writing this post on the plane to California right now). As someone who never traveled for work up until this point, traveling for something other than pleasure has been an adjustment. Don’t get me wrong—going to places like Canada, Utah, California and Georgia has been a blast and I love my job, but it is just that, a job…and traveling for it is definitely not relaxing. After a few trips though, I’ve gotten into the swing of things and now have a few survival tips I’ve learned along the way:

 

Sign up for airline miles

I mean, duh right? But as someone who doesn’t have an airline credit card, this was something I needed to put on my to-do list. I signed up to receive “miles” for every airline we typically fly with, that way once I’ve done enough traveling for work, I can plan a trip for pleasure—I’m thinking Charleston or New Orleans .

 

Get a work laptop

If possible, arrange with your company to take a laptop with you. A lot of offices, including mine, have ones they loan out and it makes life SO much easier. My travel has typically been during the work week, and while I’m obviously doing styling work on set, there’s a lot that’s happening on e-mail or back in the office that I need to tend to, otherwise I end up super behind upon my return. I made the mistake of not taking a laptop my first trip and was so overwhelmed when I got back that I almost lost my marbles. Now I set aside 20-30 minutes before bed each night in my hotel to comb through e-mails and answer pertinent ones ahead of my return to the office.

 

Try to stick to your typical schedule

This is tip numero uno if you ask me. I hate being off my schedule, so traveling to the West Coast, or just being in a location where it’s a bit screwed up really sends me for a loop. I’ve found that it’s best to keep as many constants the same as I’m able to—whether that means waking up at the same time I would at home, packing some Sleepy Time Tea to have before bed (um, I’m kind of obsessed with the vanilla flavor, so don’t judge me on this silly nighttime ritual) or trying to stick to the same foods I typically eat at home (this one is the hardest, as I have to usually rely on eating out for every. single. meal….something I never do at home. But I’m trying to be better, at least at breakfast and lunch time!). Creating a routine for yourself that feels familiar will help you feel less out of wack.

 

Make time for a little enjoyment

I’m someone who is obsessed with traveling, so the idea of getting to go to all these places and not experience them kind of breaks my heart. My co-worker and I have been making an effort to even carve out a half hour to go experience something special to the area we’re in, whether that’s dinner at a place we’ve heard about from our local homeowners, swinging by a home décor shop in the area (I guess you could file this under work) or seeing a well-known site (like the detour we took to Salt Lake, when we went to Utah). At the very least, I take a bit of time to walk around and snap a few pictures (like the shots below I took in California. A time difference results in less sleep but the advantage of seeing sunrises!) to get a little “me” time. It helps to feel like, even though you’re there for business, you’re not missing out on experiencing where you are.

 

sunrise in laguna beach palm trees in laguna beach

 

Ensure you have some entertainment

Flights, delays, downtime—you name it, I want to be occupied during it. Before I leave for any trip, I make sure I have a few books downloaded, as well as make sure any movies I may want to watch while flying are off my “cloud” and onto my Kindle (seriously WHAT IS THE CLOUD. I still don’t get it…). It’s also helpful, if like me, you’re too lazy to try and figure out which channel is which in your hotel room at night and instead would rather just watch something on your laptop. Right now I’m into Broad City and Homeland season 4!

 

Pack your patience

Things can—and often do—go wrong when you’re traveling, but it’s especially important to roll with the punches given your environment (you know, the whole traveling on your company’s dime thing). Whether you’re sitting next to the most insufferable person on the plane, your flight is delayed or you get lost every time you try to get back to your hotel, just go with it. Your “on the clock” 24/7 when traveling for work, so make sure you act like it!

 

 

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the new gallery wall: picture ledges

the new gallery wall picture ledge

 

Gallery walls will always be classic—you can find them pretty much in any home you set foot in these days, winding up a staircase or serving as the backdrop to a bed. We have several in our apartment, and while I love them, I’m beginning to crave a refresh. I feel like I read somewhere that if you have décor that doesn’t move or often change, your brain begins to not even register it’s there any more and you stop gaining pleasure from seeing it. Now, I don’t know how true that is, but I’m using that as a jumping off point for my new décor venture—picture ledges.

 

And yep—they’re exactly what they sound like. A store-bought picture ledge is attached to your wall (you can even use a piece of cool crown molding, just be sure to create some sort of lip on the end so your photos don’t fall off), eliminating the crazy measuring and leveling and planning that comes with creating a gallery wall. Another bonus? Picture ledges allow you to change your mind endlessly (perfect if you’re someone who gets décor restless like me) and incorporate more 3D objects, like a geode or tin letter, into your arrangement.

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We’ve decided to stay in our apartment for another year and I’m planning a little refresh to our living room space. Along with new couches, I’m going to install a picture ledge on one of our walls. The ingredients? Well, first you’ll need:

 

A picture ledge

You could doctor up your own with a piece of crown molding cut to the length you need, but the great thing is that picture ledges are super readily available in brand-name stores these days. Go basic with the Ribba Picture ledge from IKEA (a cheapie at $10!), or opt for a wooden, natural look with the this West Elm option for $55. Want to inject some color? Room and Board has fun steel options in green, red and yellow!

 

Then you’ll need…

 

Picture Frames

I happen to think stylish black and white photos look best in an arrangement like this, so I gravitate towards basic, streamlined frames—these incredible gold leaf gallery frames from West Elm would catch the light so beautifully in a living room, while similar black and white ones keep things monochromatic and chic. If colorful prints and frames are more suitable to your decor style, this slick yellow frame from CB2 would be perfect!

 

Finally, you’ll need…

 

The dressings!

Obviously, photos and prints are a no-brainer (I’ve rounded up some of my favorite art destinations here), but mix in more three-dimensional objects into your wall decor as well! I’m really into glass and brass terrariums lately (how cute would this West Elm one look with a little succulent inside?) and a stylish ceramic vase, like this gold dipped version from Schoolhouse Electric, is always a safe option. If you’ve got room, you can always inject a little light and natural texture with a wood framed mirror (Lulu and Georgia does it again!) or add a colorful touch with a blue agate geode—it’s too pretty to pass up!

 

 

 

image one via // image two via

 

 

the year of 50 books: 36-40

new book suggestions

 

 

These are books 36-40, which means I’m only 10 books away from finishing 50 in one year (I started this little “challenge” in March, so I’m giving myself until then to finish). I have to admit, I’ll be sad when this is over—I like having a documentation of what books I’ve read (It makes it so easy when people ask me for suggestions. I just say “Go look at my blog” haha). In all likelihood, if you guys are as into these reviews as I am, I’ll probably just continue to do them! Anyways, enough babbling—on to this set of reads!

 

 

 

luckiest-girl-alive-9781476789637_lg

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Hmm…so I can’t really tell you much about this one. It’s not that I didn’t like it (on the contrary, it’s fantastic), but it’s not out until May and I don’t want to spoil it! Jessica is actually an insanely talented editor I used to work with at SELF (and before that, she helmed Cosmo’s bedroom blog, if you read that!) and I was so excited to get an advance copy of her first book after hearing so much about it. What can I tell you? Well, if Luckiest Girl Alive was a cake, its ingredients would be drama, intrigue, mystery and touch of psychological thrill. It’s getting a lot of comparisons to Gone Girl from critics, but really it is its own special breed. You’re going to want to pick this one up!

 

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One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Another day, another Jojo Moyes book. What can I say—I’m a girl who knows what she likes! This read was different from most JoJo Moyes books in that it didn’t include a secondary (often historically dated) storyline. Instead it followed single mom Jess, along with her daughter Tanzie and her stepson Nicky. She’s struggling to make ends meet on the night a drunken software developer, Ed, walks into the bar where she tends and sets off a series of events that will change both their lives. They embark on a weird, kind of charming road trip together in order to get her brilliant daughter to a mathematics competition that could secure her a place in the private school of her dreams. I loved the main character of Jess, and thoughts her relationship with her kids was portrayed as very realistic and endearing. As for Ed—well, at first you’re really not going to like him. You might not even like him in the middle. But by the end, you’ll probably have changed your mind!

 

 

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Oh guys, this was a really good one! From the very first page, The Girl on the Train grips you and leads you on a fact-finding mission in order to decipher what happened to a young married woman the night she disappeared— and who is responsible. The story is told from a few different characters point of view, including Rachel, a divorced alcoholic whose life is more than in shambles when you meet her, and Tom, the ex-husband of Rachel, who has remarried, stayed in the house him and Rachel bought together and had a child with another woman. At the center of the mystery is Megan, an allusive woman who lives down the street from Rachel and Tom’s old house. This one will really keep you guessing—about who killed Megan, about why Rachel was there that night and what it is that she just can’t seem to remember.

 

BookCover-TheRosieProject-01

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I could have just about burst at the seems with how charming this book was. Apparently, it got a ton of press and was super popular when it came out, but I hadn’t heard about it until a coworker recommended it to me. I had read a lot of heavy stuff lately and just wanted something light and sweet—this certainly fit the bill. The Rosie Project follows Don, a genetics professor with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, as he creates the perfect algorithm and quiz to find his ideal wife. You’ll meet several of Don’s prospects as they walk through the revolving door of his life until there’s Rosie, a woman who, while she fits none of Don’s criteria, he just can’t get rid of. I loved watching Rosie break Don out of his shell (you’re really rooting for that to happen) and I thought their whole storyline together was irresistibly sweet and charming. Sometimes you just need to read something with a happy ending, you know?

 

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Calling all The Fault in Our Stars fans—I’ve got another one for ya! With similar tones of young love, high school drama and mortality, All the Bright Places is at once heart-warming and heart-wrenching. You’re introduced to high school seniors Violet and Finch, who meet at the top of the bell tower at their school where they’re both wondering what it would be like to jump off. Struggling for very different reasons (her sister died, he’s a manic depressive), Violet and Finch strike up an unlikely friendship. There are very sad notes to this story and I’m going to tell you now—it doesn’t have the happiest of endings, but I was left satisfied with how they tied up everything with the two main characters. Above all, it’s a story about love and how, sometimes, even that is not enough to save a person. (Sorry for ending on such a downer note…).

 

 

5 important lessons I’ve learned from yoga

life lessons from yoga

Yoga is something I wish I’d been doing my entire life. It wasn’t until oh, about four years ago that I even took a class in attempt to stave off some back issues I was having, but now I’m hooked. I try to make time for at least one, if not two classes a week and while I wish I could practice daily, I notice the benefits I reap from even those few hours a week are so obvious.

 

Everyone knows the physical benefits of a regular yoga practice—I mean all it takes is one look at your teacher’s long and lean, legs-for-days body to make you really thankful you’re there doing whatever it is that helps her look like that. But at the right studio, with the right teachers, your practice can be—dare I say it?—a bit transformative. I switch between two studios, Yoga Vida in Manhattan and Yoga Agora in Astoria, and I’ve been lucky enough to walk out of class a bit wiser and thinking clearer about life. The teachers talk a lot throughout the class about the poses you’re doing and how your experience with your body right now can relate to the larger picture of your life. A few of my favorite yoga-induced life lessons:

 

Effort then ease

There’s constant talk in class about making the effort to find the pose, and then relaxing into the ease of maintaining it. It’s a great lesson on one if life’s hardest realizations for me: perfect, even comfortability, is not instant. It takes effort first to get to a place where you finally feel at ease with anything—a new workout routine, a new job title, a new city. Put in that effort, and the ease will eventually come.

 

Go after what makes you feel good

So simple right? I heard my teacher say this in one of my most recent classes in relation to finding a variation of pose that works for you and as “duh” of a concept as it should be, it was such a “wow” moment for me. As someone who sometimes tortures herself making the “right” decision or doing what is expected or considered correct, it’s important to sometimes hear that you should just chase what makes you feel happiest.

 

Cultivate a support system

For your body, when it’s contorting into a new or difficult pose—and for your life, when it gets difficult or feels insurmountable. Surrounding yourself with people who leave you feeling happier, braver and—above all—supported is one of life’s greatest gifts.

 

Let go and be present

It’s very easy to get into your own head during a yoga class, which is why I’m glad my teachers are often repeating this mantra. I mean, being present is kind of the whole point of yoga, right? But, like in life, maintaining a presence is much easier said then done. I’ll find myself disappointed by the fact that my warrior doesn’t look as good as the Lulu-clad model (I mean, definitely model—I do go to yoga in SoHo after all…) or thinking what I’m going to have for dinner after class (I’m always thinking about food). Hearing this over and over keeps me routed in the good I’m doing for myself .

 

Life is not symmetrical

This may be my favorite phrase I’ve heard in yoga yet. Our teacher was using it to set us at ease if one side of our body couldn’t achieve the poses in the same way as the other, but it’s the kind of phrase that just seems to have greater life meaning, doesn’t it? I guess maybe I shouldn’t have included this one because I feel like everyone can view it’s meaning differently through the scope of their own life experience, but it seemed too good not to pass on.

 

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vanilla madeleines with berry compote

fresh berries

 

Sometimes, you just want to treat yourself to dessert. I’m not talking about a few spoonfuls from your favorite Ben & Jerry’s container—I’m talking about real, true dessert. The kind you’d treat yourself to once every month or so while at your favorite restaurant. Only you can make these madeleines from home, which is a bonus for sure.

 

A few weekends ago I was planning on making dinner for two girlfriends and needed a light dessert idea to finish the meal off. I have a set of madeleine pans I’ve embarrassingly never used to make actual madeleines (although I did make these honey corn cakes in them), so I went searching for a recipe. Naturally, Martha pulled through with a quick and tasty version—these madeleines were a huge hit with the girls, thanks in part to the fruity compote and fresh whipped cream I made to go on top of them. You’re going to want to save this one!

 

vanilla madelines

 

Madeleine Cookies Adapted from Martha Stewart

You’ll need:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (plus a bit more from the pan)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

recipe for vanilla madelines

 

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugars together until very thick and foamy (about 8 minutes). In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture in two additions, folding in with a spatula. Next, fold in the melted butter in two additions, then the honey and vanilla. Refrigerate the dough, covered, for at least 2 hours.

 

Set your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the madeleine pans with a bit of butter, then set aside. Spoon the batter into the molds, then bake until risen and lightly browned, about 8-11 minutes. Immediately take them out of the trays and allow to cool on a wire rack.

vanilla madelines with berry compote and whipped cream

 

For the berry compote, combine 2-3 cartons of fresh berries (I used raspberries and black berries) with 1/4 cup of sugar in a pan set to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have broken down and the liquid in the pan has reduced and thickened.

 

recipe for vanilla madelines with berry compote and whipped cream

 

Spoon over the berries while slightly warm, then top with fresh whipped cream. Dessert time!