Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions [and fighting for connection]

Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser

Sitting in my bed, I attempt to hide and drown out the noise downstairs with the rhythmic hum of my breast pump. I can still hear the baby crying and my toddler son whining. His twin sister yells at the top of her lungs for no reason, except maybe to keep up with the decibel level of everyone else. I’ve been here longer than necessary, partly because pumping takes extra time. I worry my supply is dropping, maybe due to diet changes or stress or who knows what. My mind conjures up a thousand possibilities, all of which I feel the urgent need to research.

I stop my frantic Googling as I notice my heart pounding faster. Apparently escaping to a semi-quiet room only made my anxious thoughts louder. I try to sit still as I listen to the steady hum of the pump, praying those bottles will fill with a few more drops. I’m not ready to add the chaos from downstairs to the chaos I carry in my own body.

It’s mac and cheese for dinner tonight—the one from the box, not the good homemade stuff. I can hear my husband’s footsteps bound up and down the stairs as he manages whatever is going on. He’s working hard to give me peace and quiet, but the volume can only be helped so much—especially during the witching hour.

There’s no denying it’s hard to connect. It’s hard to have the time and space to look each other in the eyes and ask, “How was your day?” and then actually answer without LEGOs being thrown across the room or a not quite potty-trained toddler peeing on the floor. How can we connect when I can’t even be in the room with the rest of the family?

Before babies, we used to get home from work and sit at the table together. I’d cook a homemade meal nearly every night. We’d talk over pasta and salad, garlic bread and a glass of wine. Now, even the most gracious attempts to talk more deeply or resolve conflict seem impossible. My husband’s words get caught in the tornado of emotions and information swirling in my mind, and I can’t seem to calm the storm. Some days that storm rages only in my head and heart; other times everyone else gets swept by its gale force winds. Feeling connected—feeling as though we’re on the same page, moving in the same direction, on the same team some days appears to be an exercise in futility. How do you connect with each other in the midst of a messy house, postpartum anxiety, sleep deprivation, carrying the burden of parenting, mom guilt, kids’ schedules, and the fact that if one more set of hands touches me, I may completely lose it?

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser
Marinated Skirt Steak with Pineapple + Green Onions | Sarah J. Hauser


Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]

Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

When I first made these cookies, I intended only to bake the mint chocolate version I grew up eating every Christmas. Maybe you’ve seen similar recipes before. Basically, you make a simple chocolate dough and then melt an Andes mint on top. They’re a family favorite (except with family members who dislike mint in their desserts). I happen to love mint in most desserts, and these cookies are no exception.

I shared the classic Mint Chocolate Cookies below. But as is typical when I cook, I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to finish the whole batch. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? What I lacked in mint chocolate I had in dark chocolate, so I popped a few pieces of dark chocolate on top of a dozen of the cookies, and then sprinkled on a pinch of flaky sea salt.

You guys. This sea salt version may be my favorite cookie ever (or at least in the top three). The key is the salt. Not all salt is created equal, and it’s worth finding really good flaky sea salt for this recipe. I originally tried it with fleur de sel I had on hand, but what I had was finer than I wanted (however, it will work if that’s what you have easy access to. The fleur de sel I have is from Trader Joe’s). Thanks to a pantry filled with random items including several different kinds of salt, I had a bag of Alaska Pure Sea Salt. You want big, flaky pieces of sea salt here. Sea salt dissolves easily in your mouth and complements the dark chocolate so well. Plus, the large pieces look amazing against the deep chocolate color of the cookies—like little flecks of snow.

If you don’t love the combination of salt and sweet, though, have no fear. Stick with the mint version, or create your own! The main cookie is a basic chocolate cookie, so you can use whatever you want on top—like peanut butter chips or white chocolate! You can also do like I did, and make a dozen or two of one version, and the rest a different version.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe.)

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
2 Tablespoons water
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Mint Chocolate or Chocolate + Sea Salt Topping
2 (4.67 oz) packages Andes mint candy, each candy unwrapped
OR
About 8-9 ounces of dark chocolate, broken into chunks (you need 1 chunk for each cookie)
Flaky sea salt such as Alaska Pure Sea Salt

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the butter, water, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar melt. Add the chocolate chips and stir until everything is melted and mixed together. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let it cool for 10-20 minutes.

Turn the mixer on high speed and add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer to low speed. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until blended. (Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into 1 to 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Immediately after taking the cookies out of the oven, place an Andes mint or a dark chocolate chunk on each cookie. Let the chocolate melt a bit, then spread the melted chocolate over the cookie with a spoon. If you’re making the Chocolate + Sea Salt version, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt onto the melted dark chocolate.

Cool completely until the chocolate on top hardens. Store in the fridge or freezer, or serve. Enjoy!

Did you try these? Post a picture on Instagram and make sure to tag me (@sarah.j.hauser)! I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen!

Note: Want to know the difference between various salts? Check out this article from Real Simple.


Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail [and learning to play]

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

I sat at the kitchen table with a blue plastic bowl full of applesauce, spoon-feeding my son, Josiah. My three-year-old twins ran laps around the house, and for a few moments I savored the fact that they were playing well together. No fighting, no tantrums, no tears. I overheard whispers about superheroes, and I knew what was coming. They stomped upstairs to retrieve their blankets and within a minute stood next to me asking for help tying on capes.

I set down the baby spoon and knotted the corners of the blankets around their shoulders. Off they went shouting, “We’re superheroes!” I smiled—until I saw them carrying a third, larger blanket.

“Mommy! Be a superhero with us!”

Let me confess something: I am not good at playfulness. Silliness for the sake of it seems so unproductive. I need to plan dinner. Change diapers. Write that essay. Answer an email. Basically, I’m a maternal Scrooge.

Fortunately, my kids’ pleas got the best of me. I tied that blue and green quilt around my neck and chased them from the kitchen to the living room, then through the dining room. They laughed hysterically, as did their baby brother who didn’t seem to mind taking a break from eating to witness this hilarious spectacle.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!


Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards

Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser

Sometime the best recipes are the ones that require no recipe at all. You throw together a soup with leftover produce or create a pasta dish with whatever's in the pantry. Creativity in the kitchen often comes when there are restraints. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right? 

Lately, I've been in a rut in the kitchen. I don't know if it's because I don't feel like grocery shopping, I don't want to turn the oven on in 90+ degree heat, or I'm tired of trying to convince my toddlers to try new dishes. But whatever the reason, no-cook meals sound pretty much perfect right now. You can change them up to use whatever you have on hand (toast, other cheese, cured meats, etc.) or whatever your family will eat! And while these no-cook brunch boards were originally created for, well, brunch, there's no reason you can't take the same idea and tweak it for a weeknight dinner. 

Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a compilation of ideas. I created two different variations of brunch boards - one with more sweet ingredients and one that leans savory. Play around and use whatever you like! Add a few different types of cheese if you want that to be the star, or serve charcuterie, fruit, and nuts for a paleo option. Make it all about bagel toppings with different cream cheeses, jams, and smoked salmon, or use this as an excuse to clean out your refrigerator and pantry (don’t worry, I won’t tell!).

Every dish in the ferial cuisine, however, provides a double or treble delight: Not only is the body nourished and the palate pleased, the mind is intrigued by the triumph of ingenuity over scarcity - by the making of slight materials into a considerable matter.
— Robert Farrar Capon

I (loosely) stick to two rules when I create a board. 

1. Make sure everything is convenient to eat. For example, slicing hard cheeses in advance makes it easier for guests to grab a piece. (I don’t slice soft cheeses ahead of time because that gets messy.) Prepare fruits and vegetables by cutting peels from citrus, remove pits from dates, etc. (I didn’t hull the strawberries on my “sweet” board because I like the look of unhulled ones, but I probably should have.)

2. Pick all your ingredients, then leave out a couple. If you’re like me, you can easily go crazy and include every possible combination. Less is more sometimes, so err on the side of simplicity. I bought quite a few more ingredients than I ended up using for these boards, and it would have been overkill if I tried to incorporate them all. In the end, I stuck with 9 different items for each board. 

Scroll down to see what I used for my sweet and savory versions. I also included other ideas I hope will help spark your creativity as you make your own. Have fun with it!

Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser
Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards - Sarah J. Hauser

Sweet + Savory No-Cook Brunch Boards

Sweet: 

Croissants, Brie, raspberry jam, green grapes, dried apricots, walnuts, Medjool dates, white cheddar cheese (to balance out all the sweet items), strawberries

Savory: 

Toasted bagels, chive and onion cream cheese, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, almonds, smoked salmon, Manchego cheese, hard-boiled eggs*, fresh parsley for garnish

*Okay, this isn’t entirely no-cook, but if you’re feeding a crowd, buy eggs that are already hard-boiled so you’re not peeling eggs all day!

Other Ideas:

Prosciutto or other cured meats, crackers, toast, baguette slices, butter or compound butters, cream cheese varieties, chutney, marmalade, lemon curd, other types of cheese, strawberries, apples, pears, sliced oranges, dried apricots, dried cherries, candied pecans, sliced radishes, olives, marinated artichokes, fresh basil or other herbs