almond-apricot coffee cake.

Let’s have a heart-to-heart.

When the going gets tough, I eat a lot of chocolate. Specifically, brownies. Specifically, frozen brownies with peanut butter on top. Maybe with some ice cream on the side.

When the going gets tough, I kick it out with Jillian Michaels, or with some downward dog, or by riding my bike until my hair is glued to my sweaty face and passersby start avoiding my gaze because I’m giving myself pep talks while pedaling up the hills.

When the going gets tough, I call my mama, or I watch “You’ve Got Mail” and give my cat a bear hug — or, I bake.

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smoked gouda, sun-dried tomato and parsley muffins.

Happy SPRRRRRRRRING, everyone!

OK, I know I’m jumping the gun by a couple of weeks, but these last two days of warmer (albeit blustery) weather have me all giddy and looking even more forward to those sunny spring days. I’m looking forward to the farmers markets (and the produce, egads, the non-root vegetable and citrus produce!), walks and bike rides outside and enjoying ice cream without freezing my tail off afterward (oh, who am I kidding; it could be -40 and I’d still eat ice cream). And I’m especially looking forward to not having to wear my ugly snow boots, scraping off the ice block that has encased my car or wearing 800 layers to and fro work. March 20 will be a glorious day.

Of course, this winter wasn’t really that bad at all. We had a few minor snowstorms, which was exciting, but otherwise it was pretty pitiful. But that’s not to say I’m not ready to put this pathetic winter behind us, and eager for the warmer weather ahead. And I’m kicking off the spring celebration with these bright and cheery savory muffins.

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gluten free coconut-ginger banana bread.

I recognize that it is a gift.

For someone who has her own plethora of food allergies — including bananas, ironically — I know what it’s like to be restricted in what is edible to me. But I also know that it’s much, much easier to avoid bananas, cantaloupe, nectarines… sigh, the list goes on… than it is to avoid gluten, something that’s in pretty much any bread or pasta product. As I’m sure many gluten free eaters don’t miss gluten, I don’t necessarily pine for bananas — but there are some things, like this delicious-looking bread, that I do wish I could eat. Le sigh.

So instead, I made this bread so those who might otherwise not be able to eat breads from my blog can eat this. Methinks it’s a good trade.

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rieska.

It’s official. My case of cabin fever has moved beyond the stage of being curable — at least, that is, by anything other than time. No amount of willpower, movie watching, exercising, music listening, Valentine’s Day-ing (though I must say my valentine is one very bright spot, even in these sunless days) or cookie eating is going to tear me from the threshold of these winter blues. It happens every year, and so I’ve come to expect it and, like a flower wrapped tightly in its bud, wait (mostly) patiently for the impending thaw of springtime, when it bursts in a colorful force through the crunchy gray snow and melts all of it — and my wintry woes — away.

In the waiting, however, I’ve learned to create for myself an arsenal of survival tools — a really good book, some good company, a few cups of warm tea. And now, perhaps, this bread, as rustic and reliable as one needs when he or she is feeling cabin feverish. This bread — this rieska, this Finnish wonder of ridiculously easy bread baking — is a true companion in these darker days.

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chocolate-orange doughnuts.

This has been one horrible, no good, very bad week so far.

I know this isn’t why you came here. You came here for doughnuts, not to hear about how my car’s windshield wipers stopped working in the middle of a snowstorm, or how I broke my new necklace the first day I wore it and then subsequently spilled coffee all over my pants at work, or how I tried to make simple things like poached eggs and grilled cheese (grilled cheese!) for dinner and failed miserably, or how, lately, some of my life’s circumstances getting the better of me.

But I’m keeping it real, here, people. Sometimes, we just have a really crummy week.

Thankfully, we also have doughnuts.

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cornbread. mmm.

Let it be said that this time of year, the most wonderful time of the year, is meant for caroling and baking cookies and decorating trees and putting up lights and skating on lakes and wrapping our hands around mugs of hot cocoa.

Let it be said that this time of year is meant for celebrating good tidings, family and friends, blessings and a humble birth in a manger.

Let it be said this time of year is not for worrying about the silly little things, risking your bank account or life for that “perfect” gift, opening old wounds and harboring resentment.

I know it’s a tough truth to grasp, and I am the first to admit that I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of this month worrying instead of celebrating. Though there still were cookies involved.

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