Caffeinated Pumpkin Powercakes and GIVEAWAY

I cannot imagine a more perfect protein supplement for resident physicians. CLICK is an easy add-on to whatever sort of hectic, shaken not stirred sort of morning you may be having, and the 16 grams of protein sustains. This week, I’ve been on nights, chugging like a Night Train up and down lonely, dark wards, fourteen hours at a stretch. Yesterday I heated and frothed up some milk, dumped in two scoops of this caramel CLICK powder, and what a sweet treat to get the day, or night, kickstarted. This post is sponsored by my friends at CLICK, and I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY on their behalf for those who comment on this post and check out their other fun products.  Chance to win ends Oct 31st at 9pm CST. Winner will be notified by email.*




You can do many variations on a latte with this stuff for fall—Pumpkin Spice Latte, etc. You can also make frozen blended drinks. Or, you might want to try out these pancakes I call powercakes.


Caffeinated Pumpkin Powercakes

adapted from the CLICK recipe blog

2 scoops CLICK caramel or vanilla protein powder

1/2 cup pumpkin

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice + 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 egg whites

2/3 cup oats

1/2 cup water

Easy enough, put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!


Heat a cast iron skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve warm! I thought these were pretty sweet and didn’t need any added syrup. There is quite a bit of caffeine here with just the powder, so be sure that you don’t overdo it with the morning jo to boot!

** GIVEAWAY details: just comment on this blog after visiting the CLICK site; let me know which product you’d like to try! Winner gets the following stuff:


Bulldog not included…

Sausage and Sweet Potato Skillet for Augustus Gloop

Anticipating this year’s Halloween Party theme—Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—in memorium of the irreplaceable Gene Wilder, Izzy has generously volunteered to be Augustus Gloop, the German character who falls into the chocolate river about ten minutes into the factory tour. She is more than thrilled about these new lederhosen we bought just in time for Octoberfest. Before you call PETA on us, rest assured that sweet Augustus got to nibble on some of the spoils of this sausage skillet. And she has first dibs on the lickable wallpaper, where the snozzberries shall taste like snozzberries.


“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” WW

I’m not sure why it is so satisfying to have our seasonal food match the colors as they change in the trees. For whatever reason, fall meals seem to always feel the most like home of all the foods.


Sausage and Sweet Potato Skillet

Adapted from Penzeys Spices

2 sweet potatoes

2 TB. coconut oil

1 lb. breakfast sausage (chorizo my fave!)

1/4 Cup Penzey’s Air-Dried Shallots (or obviously you could use a real shallot)

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 TB. fresh sage, chopped

1/2 tsp. Hungarian style paprika

4 Cups Tuscan kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced

2 Cups cooked quinoa

1-2 TB. Mural of flavor, to taste


Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub the sweet potatoes and pierce a few times with a knife or fork. Place on the middle oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Roast for about 45 minutes or until soft and tender. Cool almost completely and then chop into small pieces.


While the sweet potatoes roast, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and heat until hot. Add the sausage, shallots, garlic, sage and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is crumbled and no longer pink. Stir in the kale, cover and cook until the kale starts to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa and mural of flavor. Cook for about 1 minute and then serve. Casually drop a few pieces of sausage and potato on the floor for the precious groundlings.


Lemon Shortcake with Basil Berries

Scarcity has allure. I stopped into Spitfire Coffee today in the French Quarter and was amused at their choice to feature one meager shelf of merchandise, maybe three chocolate bars and one sad, limp little half pound bag of coffee beans. The shop was empty, and there were only four bar stools along a plain wall. I took one of them, and as I sat there sipping my maple latte, the brilliance in their marketing strategy became clear. Had there been a wall of shelves cluttered with goods, it would have been easier to dismiss all. Multiplenty (yes, I invented this word) for the competitive shopper is necessarily a turn off; there is nothing special about snatching the chocolate bar when there are ten others waiting in file. Also I think imagining the possession of a thing is more manageable when the spectacle is discrete, limited. It’s the I’ve Got A Golden Ticket feeling. When I made these happy few shortcakes…  as goes for most home made dishes, I suppose, small scale drives allure. Scarcity, its own sauce.


Lemon Shortcake with Basil Berries

Adapted from Martha Stewart


2 ¼ flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

2 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks cold butter

¾ cup heavy cream

Basil Berry Sauce

1 pint blue berries

1 pint raspberries

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 TB fresh lemon juice

2 TB fresh basil leaves, sliced thin

1 TB confectioners sugar

1 cup heavy cream

½ tsp vanilla


Combine blueberries, 3 tbsp white sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice, and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix together flour, baking powder, remaining white sugar, lemon zest in a food processor, pulse. Add butter and pulse again. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 10 minutes.

Stir in cream and knead minimally until dough comes together. Roll dough into a log, and then slice into thin 1 cm rounds.


Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Whisk cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Serve shortcakes with cream and top with berries.


Buttery Butternut Squash Rolls and Wisconsin Chili

A thirty-something went dancing, and now she cannot bend either leg. I won’t say who. But I’m sure butter will help.


Buttery Butternut Squash Rolls and Wisconsin Chili

Adapted from Food and Wine

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup butternut squash puree

2 tablespoons sugar

One cup of sourdough starter

1 large egg, beaten

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus 6 tablespoons melted butter

Canola oil, for greasing


In a small saucepan, combine the milk, squash puree and sugar and cook over low heat, whisking, until the milk is lukewarm and the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the sourdough and egg; let stand until foamy, 10 minutes.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the 4 1/4 cups of flour and the salt at low speed just to combine. With the machine on, slowly add the warm milk mixture and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Beat in 1 tablespoon of the butter until completely incorporated; scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat the dough until well combined, about 2 minutes.

Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Knead the dough at medium speed until smooth, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl and dusting with 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour if the dough sticks, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently press down on the dough; it should be tacky. Divide the dough into 36 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Gently squeeze 1 piece of dough through your thumb and index finger to form a ball; pinch the bottom. Place the ball pinched side down on the prepared sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, spacing the balls 1 1/2 inches apart. Loosely cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the tops of the rolls with the melted butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden and cooked through, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Serve warm.




Troy’s Wisconsin Chili

Adapted from Penzeys

1 lb. lean ground beef

5 bratwurst sausages, casings removed

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6-7 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and minced

8 oz. sliced white mushrooms

1 29-oz. can tomato sauce

1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 12-oz. can tomato paste

1 16-oz. can dark red kidney beans

1 16-oz. can pinto beans

1 12-oz. bottle beer

1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 tsp. pepper

1-2 TB. Chili powder

1-2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2-1 tsp. Cayenne pepper

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. white pepper

In a large skillet, combine the beef, bratwurst and granulated garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned, stirring frequently to break up the lumps—about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large stock pot. Discard all but 1 TB. of the drippings in the skillet. Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until softened, stirring often, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the pot. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, beer, salt and seasonings. Stir to combine. Cook over low heat for 2-3 hours. Serve with freshly shredded Wisconsin cheddar cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions.

I love the fall like Izzy loves a cardboard box.


Acorn Squash Burrata and Combat Paper

Combat paper is a project wherein military uniforms are repurposed into paper, travelling the country. KP and I were lucky to enjoy a workshop here in New Orleans  at Treo this evening. I cut into the shirt from a man who died in Vietnam in the 1960s. There was still dirt on the stiff collar, and it gave me pause to hold that fabric and rip through the seams. The paper gets ground by a Hollander into a pulp which is sifted onto screens, dried and pressed. We sprayed color onto the paper tonight, and the whole time I kept wondering what happened to my grandfather’s Marine uniform—what sort of art it has become.


I will not easily forget this night.

combat-paper-2 combat-paper acorn-squash-with-burrata


Acorn Squash with Garlic Butter and Burrata

Adapted from Food and Wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

Kosher salt


Two 1 1/2-pound acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

4 cups baby greens (2 ounces)

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water

One 1/2-pound ball of burrata

Cracked black pepper, for garnish

Flaky sea salt, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, combine the butter, shallot, garlic and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Season the squash halves with salt and pepper and set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the garlic butter and roast for about 30 minutes, until the squash is golden and tender. Transfer to plates.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the baby greens and red onion and toss to coat. Cut the burrata into 4 pieces. Top each squash half with burrata and salad, garnish with cracked pepper and sea salt and serve warm.


Casarecce for Fortitude and Fortune

Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues, read the fortune cookie I opened in December of last year, right after finishing a grueling ICU rotation. And something like a stuck prayer, what do I find in the bottom of my call-night chucks after nine months, just before I lace them up to head back to the hospital? None other than Fortitude, stuck to me like a stubborn label, to borrow Annie Dillard’s perfect line from “Living Like Weasels” (this essay my personal literary pep rally).


This is the first time a fortune cookie has repackaged and re-fortuned itself to me. This bears certain significance as I face ICU yet again on Friday, and after a season of jet-lagged nights which have already rent asunder my immune system. Caffeine almost has no power to confer well-being to me anymore. Goodness is going to have to be endogenous henceforth, methinks. Good food, good exercise, the real stuff, etc.


I thought I was getting the flu or suffering myalgias from some disturbance of my diurnal cortisol flow, when in fact I had just forgotten about the several 15-30 minute speed yoga sessions I’ve done at home with OnlineGym4Me –thank you, sleep deprivation (and thank you, OnlineGym4Me for the membership treat–very convenient indeed, so convenient that I’ve even forgotten that I worked out!). Apparently I’m doing yoga in my sleep while Izzy shevasanas on my mat. That is, really, the only pose bulldogs will do. That and child’s pose.

online-gym-and-izzy happy-baby-izzy

To all those with burning rotator cuffs and tender lats—fortitude, my friends. And good for you for getting on the mat. Literally or figuratively. May you carry good fortune with you, even if you stand upon it unknowing.


Casarecce with Sausage, Pickled Cherries and Pistachios

Adapted from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup unsalted pistachios

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 pound casarecce pasta

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

3/4 cup pitted and chopped Pickled Cherries

Shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Add the pistachios and toast over moderate heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and let cool, then coarsely chop.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.

In the same saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the sausage and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the thyme, garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and cook, stirring, until the pasta is hot and coated in a light sauce, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pickled cherries and toasted pistachios and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to shallow bowls, top with cheese and serve.

Eat, and then get thee to the mat to tuck that pasta into the places it should be, ahem.


Marcona Blondies and Cheese Straw Crackers

Blondies are a sometimes food. For me, sometimes means once a year. When I really need a baked good pick-me-up for morale, I make these. Or, each time I see Marcona Almonds at the grocery store, which seems to be about once an autumn. This time it was the double whammy of seeing Marcona almonds, and then one step further, Bob’s Red Mill almond flour. I stood there in a cramped corner of Whole Foods in a sort of sugar reverie, fantasizing an image of this special treat:


Now that they are out of the oven and filling my house with the aroma of brown butter, I am at a sugar stand still again. Bake this day, indeed.

Marcona Almond Blondies

Adapted from Food and Wine


2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for brushing

3 1/2 cups light brown sugar

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup roasted almond butter

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill superfine almond flour*

2 cups marcona almonds, chopped (9 ounces)

1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (11 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 325º. Lightly brush a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with butter.

In a medium saucepan, cook the 2 1/2 sticks of butter over moderate heat until golden brown, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes.


Add the sugar, eggs, almond butter, vanilla, salt and cinnamon to the butter and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour, then fold in 1 1/2 cups of the almonds and 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with an offset or a nonstick spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of almonds and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the blondies cool completely before cutting.

*If you wanted these to be gluten free, all you’d have to do is make it three cups of almond flour, instead of two.


And then for more snacking over a Sunday afternoon football game—

Cheese Straw Crackers

Adapted from Penzeys Spices

3/4 Cup flour

1/4 tsp. mustard powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

4 TB. butter, cold, cut in small chunks

1/2 Cup fine shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg yolk

1 TB. cold water

1/4 tsp. salt, paprika to sprinkle on top, optional


Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Add the butter and mix with forks or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the cheese and toss/mix well. Add the egg yolk and water and mix with a large fork until a soft dough forms. You can make them to this point, then pat into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a bit if you don’t want to do it all at once. Also makes rolling easier, just remove from fridge 20 minutes before rolling and baking.

Roll out gently, on a flour-dusted surface, to 1/4 inch thick and cut into 3/4-inch wide by 2-inch long portions for crackers, longer and thinner for straws. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning if desired, place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until golden and a bit puffy.