Girl Versus Dough

open faced caprese sandwiches with brown butter + burrata

caprese sandwiches with burrata on parchment paper

There are umpteen reasons why I love living in Minnesota (and one reason I don’t: winter. But let’s not talk about it).

I love the friendly people. I love the accessibility of the cities. I love the trails, the parks, the lakes, the local shops, the creativity that comes out of this state. I love the food, the farmers markets, the commitment people here have to community and sustainability. I love all of the other seasons here except the aforementioned one.

I also love the tomatoes. Especially when they are placed on open faced caprese sandwiches with brown butter and burrata.

herb cornbread

herb cornbread sliced

Herb cornbread, you complete me.

You think I’m exaggerating, but it’s true. A life without delicious cornbread is a life not lived, I say. And this version, with its flavor infusion of fresh herbs and buttermilk, is tops. It goes with everything, from soup to chili to salad to brats on the grill. It says, “hello, warm weather!” as you’re about to take a generous bite.

No, wait, it doesn’t say anything when you’re about to bite into it, because that would be weird. But you get the point.

gluten free pistachio pound cake

gluten free pistachio pound cake sliced on parchment paper

I am taking this moment to better appreciate the pound cake. I feel like pound cakes have gotten a bad rap in both the past and present. They can be pretty basic, pretty blah in the flavor department and some are as heavy and dense as a brick. Ever tried a dried-out slice of pound cake? Would not recommend. (Even ice cream on top won’t help save it, as I know from experience.)

But this gluten free pistachio pound cake is the pound cake outlier. It’s dense, yes, but incredibly moist and full of flavor. There are three iterations of pistachios in the cake — a ground-up paste beaten in with the butter, chopped nuts folded into the batter and a few more scattered across the top. The thick, smooth icing on top is, well, just the icing on a cake that can otherwise stand out all on its own.

So let’s set aside our pound cake prejudices and dig into a slice of this goodness.

mocha rubbed slow cooker shredded beef

mocha rubbed slow cooker shredded beef on baking dish

I was so nervous to write this post, but I’ve got to come clean: I quit Whole30 this week. Here’s the thing, friends: That program is HARD. And very restrictive.

And about four days into it, I found myself at a dinner party with no approved options except for dates and lettuce, and that was unacceptable when there was a delicious homemade gumbo sitting in front of me with cream in it that was wholesome and obviously more satisfying of a meal. So I ate it, and I vowed to be good for the rest of the month.

But then, a couple of days later, I found myself at an event where Chipotle was catered, and chicken was one of the protein options (the other was sofritas, a.k.a. tofu, which I knew was a no-go). So I ate the chicken, piled on a high heap of lettuce, salsa and guacamole, thinking I was being so good at this Whole30 thing. Then I find out later that day that, in fact, the chicken at Chipotle is not Whole30 compliant. Um, OK.

Add to that the fact that I was hungry all.the.time, I had this constant headache that wouldn’t quit, I knew there were more instances coming down the pipeline this month where I’d be faced with the possibility of needing to eat just lettuce for dinner to stay true to the plan, and it was all too much. The hangry-ness was the hardest part. I can’t handle that, you guys.

So by Tuesday night, two weeks into the program, my husband and I decided to quit. And I drank a glass of red wine to celebrate.

strawberry rhubarb pie

strawberry rhubarb pie

It’s Monday, and since I know how we all feel about that, I’m bringing pie to the table. You can bring the coffee, yes?

I’m not much of a pie baker but I certainly have always been a pie eater. Key lime, lemon meringue and apple pies used to always be among my favorites, and while I still carry a pie-shaped torch for them, my heart now fully belongs to strawberry rhubarb pie. I have my husband’s grandma to thank for that.

blueberry lemon muffin bread

slice of blueberry lemon muffin bread

If there is one thing I can be remembered for in this life, I hope it is this blueberry lemon muffin bread.

Just kidding. I hope to remembered for other, perhaps more important, things, but I do also intend to have this bread go down in history books as one of the greats.

That’s not to say this bread isn’t important in its own way. I mean, there are fresh blueberries and lemon zest speckled throughout the loaf that is then topped with the best crunch topping in all the land. To say you need this bread ASAP is an understatement. You, like, NEED this bread.