Rotini with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Spring has blossomed! And brought with it the 1-year anniversary of Smells Like Brownies, wow!

In honor of Spring and my very favorite seasonal vegetable, asparagus, I’m making a super simple pasta dish in which asparagus steals the show.

This meal only takes as long to prepare as it does to boil your pasta. It’s perfect for a weeknight, yet with the addition of goat cheese it also feel sophisticated enough for a date night.

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Madeleines

Is it awful if I admit that the first and possibly best madeleine I ever ate came in a Starbucks wrapper? (That’s right…it wasn’t even fresh…)

I mean, the madeleines in France last summer were delightful, and I really enjoy the madeleines I make at home (yeah…I nearly single-handedly polished off the whole dozen…), but I tell ya, that Starbucks madeleine was really delightful. It was so rich and moist…much denser than a regular madeleine, which is kind of airy and light, the way little cakes shaped like shells should be. I’m sure Starbucks pumped it full of preservatives and other chemical helpers, but I didn’t care. I just savored.

Ahem.

Meanwhile, back in a real kitchen, it’s Spring! And I’m making madeleines from Dorie Greenspan! They are lovely, light, and slightly lemony. Seems like a great combination for Spring, n’est-ce pas?

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Monkey Bread

How many different ways can I convince myself that cake is an excellent breakfast food?

It would really be impossible to count…

The first time I had monkey bread was at a “cookout” breakfast at Camp Hanover. I’m not actually sure how we managed this without a proper oven…but I was only 8, so cooking was a bit beyond me at the time. For all I know, we picked the gooey cake up at the kitchen and the only “cooking” that happened that morning was slicing fruit into bite-size chunks.

When I got home from my week away, I begged my mother to make this sugary, delightful butter bomb at home, and she happily agreed. Monkey bread actually turned out to be one of my brother’s favorite treats, while I moved on to even less healthy breakfasts like chocolate chip pancakes covered with mountains of whipped cream…yum. But I still love monkey bread!

One of the greatest attributes of monkey bread is that it requires very little effort. Chop up a bunch of peel-apart biscuits, shake them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture, and drench in butter! Perfect. Plus, it makes a great cake to share with friends. If you’ve never make this, I know you’ll be glad when you do.

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Black Bottom Cupcakes

Don’t you just love it when fate guides you to a recipe for something delicious, and you happen to have all of the ingredients on hand?

A few weeks ago I was semi-randomly clicking through food blogs, both those near and dear to my heart and new finds, and I stumbled across this super easy recipe for black bottom cupcakes. I was mentally transported back to high school, when about halfway through my 30-minute drive home from school, I would convince myself to take a small detour so I could swing by Starbucks and get a gigantic, cream-cheese filled cupcake and an even more gigantic mocha frappuccino with about a quart of whipped cream. Yes, those were very healthy times for me…and I’m not quite sure how I always seemed to have just enough cash for these extravagances, but there you go.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten a black bottom cupcake from Starbucks (it’s probably also been a long time since they even carried them!), but they were a pretty amazing treat for me. Chocolate so dark and moist that it was actually black, a soft cheesecake center…what more is a teenage girl to want? (Aside from, say, fitting into her jeans…)

I knew I had to make these cupcakes without delay. You should, too, as soon as you find some unassuming victims to share them with…as I can attest, it’s hard to eat only one!

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Crustless Mini Quiches

I’ve been a bit discombobulated lately. I’ve been cooking and baking and taking all these pictures—but my own dinky camera was out of commission and my laptop was out of commission, and let’s just say that when my routines are disturbed sometimes I become a bit befuddled.

But! Today is Secret Recipe Club reveal day! So I’m gathering my wits to share a super simple and healthy breakfast recipe with you: crustless mini quiches. (If quiche is crustless, does actually that mean it’s a frittata or an omelet? No idea.)

This month my assigned blogger was Laura Rees. While her tastes and mine diverge pretty significantly (er…I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fruit…so I do kind of fall into a specific niche of eaters), her take on mini quiche struck me as interesting. I set out to make a vegetarian version that I could bring to brunches with friends or eat as a snack mid-afternoon, and I am so glad I tried it.

Quiche is actually fairly hearty, and you can dramatically change the result by using any fillings you like! I went with spinach, broccoli, and sharp cheddar—deeelish.

Seriously, what could be easier than quiche? Normally, the hardest part about making quiche (or any pie, really), is making the crust. Here, you skip that step entirely, save yourself a few hundred calories of butter, and come away with some cute, veggie-filled little tartlets! You chop a few things, you whisk some eggs, then you’re basically done!

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Farro Broccoli Salad

Yum.

Super Natural Every Day once again tantalizes the taste buds.

This grain salad is nutty, lemony, tangy, and a little garlicky. Oh my gosh. I feel like I should go eat another bowlful right away!

I decided to go with farro for this salad, because I’ve been curious about it for a while. An ancient grain related to wheat, farro can be cooked on the stovetop just like rice or quinoa or any other grain you know and love. And as a vegetarian, I love that it is high in protein and fiber. Check plus for grains that do triple duty! Farro is also sometimes called emmer, and it’s very similar to spelt.

I am definitely going to make this salad again. Between the farro and the huge amount of broccoli, there’s practically not a healthier lunch around. It takes about an hour to make (oh, er…and about 7 dishes that must be handwashed…), but I promise this dish will be a hit.

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