Do you like chocolate?

by Nina Z


I thought so!

If you like decadent desserts without all of the decadent ingredients, then these brownies are the perfect treat for you. 

Make these for your family holiday party, your friend's potluck, or your amazing co-workers who just love a mid-week treat!

I should be honest though... these brownies have avocado in them. Yeah, I said it. Avocado. Its mild flavor and high (good) fat content make it the perfect butter/oil substitute. It also gives these brownies a rich, velvety texture. Win/Win/Win.

Avocado Brownies - makes 9-12 square brownies, or 6-8 muffin-sized brownies:

  • 1 large avocado, mashed
  • 1 3-4oz dark chocolate bar, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup flour (any kind you want)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl, mix avocado, chocolate, eggs, vanilla, and maple syrup and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and mix until dry ingredients are completely combined with wet ingredients. The mixture will be thick. 

Spray an 8x8 brownie pan with non-stick spray. Pour batter in to pan and spread evenly. If using muffin tins, fill each cup until mostly full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until middle of brownie pan (or muffins) are set and firm.

Let cool before cutting and removing from pan.


What a delicious year 2015 has been! I can't wait to see what 2016 has to offer. Thanks for following along with my food + life adventures. Warmest wishes for a happy and healthy New Year, fellow foodies!


Making the Most of Summer

by Nina Z


How is it already the end of August!? While I've enjoyed my summer Fridays and the extended evening light, I'm ready to say goodbye to stifling hot subway stations and hello to my sweaters and booties.

As I wait for cooler days, I'm still going to enjoy one of my favorite parts of summer: farmer's market produce. 

I needed to make sure none of this went to waste - I'm only one person and can only eat so much kale - so, I whipped up food I could stick in the freezer:

- Kale pesto with basil, walnuts + goat's milk pecorino
- Zucchini pancakes with chives, green onion + lemon zest

I'm actually not a huge fan of zucchini, but they looked so cute and perfectly green... I couldn't pass them up! And frying them in coconut oil couldn't make them taste worse, right?

These little cakes are super simple to make, AND they're gluten- and dairy-free, so they're a hit with all your friends who can't eat this and that.

Here's what you'll need for 14-16 small pancakes:

  • 2-3 small/medium zucchinis, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for zucchini)
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 2 TBS green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 TBS chives, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt + pepper (+ red pepper flake) to taste
  • coconut oil (for the pan)

Place grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over zucchini and toss to coat. Let zucchini sit for 10 minutes to let some water drain out. Wring zucchini out with paper towel, fine towel, or cheese cloth. You may need to do this in batches.

Combine zucchini, eggs, green onions, chives, lemon zest + juice, and salt + pepper in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Heat coconut oil in a large pan (preferably deep to avoid splattering) over medium heat. Make sure coconut oil is covering bottom of the pan.

Spoon in 2-3 TBS batter and flatten with spatula. Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown, and flip. Take out of the pan and place on a plate/pan lined with a paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat until you're all out of batter!

I'm not gonna lie... I ate a few standing over the pan while I was cooking. But, the rest I let cool, wrapped tightly in foil, stored in a ziplock bag, labeled, and stuck in the freezer for future lazy/easy meals. To defrost, take the pancakes out of the freezer in the morning, leave in the fridge, and they should be set to heat up that evening.

I did the same with the pesto: I separated into batches, kept one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. And then I enjoyed a maybe-too-large bowl of pasta after a busy day of work, gym + errands:

Here's to spending more Saturdays at the farmers market, and reaping the benefits even weeks later!


Mother's Day Brunch

by Nina Z


Remember when I told you that I haven't been cooking? Well, I made you and my kitchen proud today. I've been planning for the last few days - grocery shop Friday, prep list Saturday, cook up a storm Sunday.

I wanted to show my mom, and grandma, how much I appreciate them with a delicious meal. My dad and grandpa got to tag along, which gave me an opportunity to make more than I usually would. Served with dish- and silver-ware that were handed down from my grandparents to me, this meal seemed extra special.

I wanted to make light, healthy dishes, packed with lots of flavor:

Kale and Mesclun Green Salad with Lemon and Turmeric Vinaigrette
Asparagus and Chive Frittata with Goat Cheese
Avocado Toast with Pea Shoots and Lemon Zest
Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon
Banana Oat Walnut Bread

I loooove Avocado Toast. It's a go-to snack for me these days, and I love to top it with a variety of toppings - red pepper flakes, turmeric, sesame seeds, and to make it a meal, an over-easy egg!

I amped up this snack to make this beautiful, bright side dish:

- Sliced baguette grilled in leftover bacon fat (after frying the bacon)
- 2 avocados smashed with the juice of 1 lemon and a good amount of sea salt
- After topping each piece of bread with a dollop of avocado spread, garnish with lemon zest and pea shoots

To balance the savory-ness of the meal, this banana oat walnut bread was a HIT! With the natural sweetness of over-ripe bananas and only 1 cup of raw sugar, a piece of this bread was the perfect way to end the meal. But let's be honest, none of us only had one piece...

This recipe will come in a separate post, so stay tuned.

I had so much fun planning, cooking, and staging this meal. I forgot how great it felt to pick up my camera and snap photos in my new kitchen nook! Oh, this is the start to a beautiful, scrumptious summer.


Learning to Balance

by Nina Z


When I was looking for an apartment, my non-negotiable was a decent-sized kitchen. I ended up with an amazing kitchen, which for the past four months, has been used mainly to heat up leftovers, cook Sunday brunch, and bake the occasional batch of brownies. Whenever I'm in my kitchen not cooking, I feel a pang of guilt: what is this kitchen doing here if I'm not going to be spending my free time cooking, taking awesome pictures, and then posting here for you all to learn new recipes?

But then I attempt to justify: Nina, you just moved into one of the most amazing cities in the country, so why would you spend all of your free time inside when there's so much to explore (and eat)!?

So herein lies my dilemma. As much as I enjoy grocery shopping at local markets and cooking up fun and interesting meals for myself, I also enjoy wandering around my new neighborhood(s) and sampling the amazing food they have to offer.

While I may feel guilty for not cooking as much as I used to, and for not posting here as much as I would like to, I shouldn't feel guilty for embracing my new home. 

Here is my confession to all of you: I, Nina, do not usually cook dinner. I like to eat leftovers from work, often having the same meal twice in one day. I like to go out to dinner, and brunch, and cocktails, and I unapologetically enjoy every single minute of it.

I know that eventually, I'll find the balance that's right for me, and for this blog. But for now, dinner will sometimes look like the above (I mean, who wouldn't want that!?), and sometimes, groceries will consist of a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, two bars of chocolate and a bottle of $5 wine.

This is only the beginning of my adventure and while I have lots of BK terrain to cover this summer, my love for cooking will still prevail.