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I Married People! That Was Awesome. The Rest of the Week Was Not Awesome.

Grab your hankies, kids. It’s about to get serious up in here. I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I would be officiating two weddings as part of a Pop-Up Chapel. Welp, that day has come and gone. So how’d it go?

It’ll remain with me forever as one of the best days I have ever had. Really. The sun was out in full-force, Dave Holmes was MC-ing, and there were 24 lovely couples lookin’ to get hitched. Does it get any better? Well, maybe. I didn’t really sleep the night before, so I suppose the day would have been better if my sister didn’t have to deal with me making nonsensical observations about denim or randomly bursting into crazed fits of laughter. I somehow managed to pull myself together in time for both ceremonies, though.

I look like I'm sleeping standing up, right? I probably needed to.

If you want to read a bit on the day, you can click here and here. Yes, that is my mug in both, and no, I did not know that I would be featured. NY1 apparently aired two segments that I happened to be in (I officiated the first wedding) several times an hour on Saturday. I am so glad I didn’t know there would be that many news outlets at the wedding, because if I had, I think I would have stuttered and stumbled myself into one hot minister mess.  But man, did I love my couples! Both were adorable and incredibly loving with one another. Being the individual responsible for joining two people forever made me see marriage in a way I hadn’t really before. Who knows if it’s for me or not (sorry My Parents, but really, who knows), but now I think I  get why people do it. Rock on, marrieds! You’ve made me a believer. You’ve also apparently made me a hippie, judging by the philosopicals I now be droppin’.

So, while that Saturday was absolutely lovely, the rest of my week was not, for many reasons. I don’t really think on my feet, and the past few days brought me several back-to-back, rug’s-been-pulled-and-now-you’re-kind-of-screwed moments, which I’m assuming have contributed to my still feeling exhausted and dazed more than a week after the weddings. Sleepy Shibow = Cranky, Lazy, Sad Shibow. I needed sweets, I needed ’em quickly, and I needed ’em easy. So I made a cake in my microwave. And it took less time to make it than it’s taking to write about it.

Yes, you can make a cake in your microwave, and if you’re oven-phobic for the summer like I am, you should make a cake in your microwave. You probably already know about this if you had an Easy Bake Oven in the ’90s, but hopefully you’re a grown up now with a big girl appliance. Let’s be real though– this cake will serve a party of one, so all the better if you’re riding solo. Screw the calming cup of tea and have yourself a heaping mug of cake.

Microwave Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup of all purpose flour

3 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

3 tablespoons of milk

1 egg

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

The tiniest drop of vanilla extract

The tiniest pinch of cayenne pepper, if you like a kick to your cake

Easy as pie. Except it's cake. Whatever.

So, are you ready to make this sucker? Sure? It’ll take everything in you. Actually, it will take one free hand. Whisk together all of the above ingredients in a large mug. If I were you, I’d go in order, mixing all the dry ingredients first and then adding in the wet ones. And make sure the egg’s fully incorporated unless you’d like chocolate scrambled egg cake. That’d be new…and nasty.

Throw it into your microwave for two minutes or until it starts to puff up. The end. Oh, eat. Then the end.

I did stand in front of the microwave for the full two minutes, and I know my microwave window needs cleaning. I am bad.

So it’s a chewy cake, FYI. Remember how I mentioned Easy Bake Ovens? Well, that’s the sort of cake you’ll be dealing with, so if you’re into light and fluffy, this will not be your cup o’ cake. But if you’re cool with dense and rich and need your chocolate fix now, this will do pretty freaking well in a pinch. Next time I’ll probably add some chocolate chips for extra gooeyness. For now, I’m going to have a seat, a mug of cake and a good cry beer.

Here comes the choco-plane... I know that's not funny. 😦
Desserts with Fruit Easy Baking Frozen Desserts No-Bake Recipes Sort of Healthy Strange and Yummy

I Will Make You a Popsicle. And Then I Will Marry You.

It’s been a strange couple of weeks. Good things and bad things, sad things and rad things have all happened in quite a short span of time. Here’s a list:

1. I am an ordained minister and am registered with the City of New York! Yes, really! Yes, I’ll marry you! (good/rad thing)

2. One of my favorite coworkers is leaving for something called Utah (Ok, I know what/where Utah is. I found it on my world map shower curtain!). She’s the best. She also subscribes to this blog and always has nice things to say about it. She’s also just generally awesome. I could give you specifics, but then I will cry and this will become a whole different post. I am not happy about this development. (bad/sad thing)

3. Apparently my mom’s been handing out my email like it’s candy (or curry?) to the mothers of random Indian boys looking to wife me up. Inappropriate! (VERY bad/VERY sad thing)

4. I’m running my first 5K in September! It will probably take me all day, but it’s for a good cause, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Support us! (good/rad thing)

So, #4. That’s a very bad thing she did. And I am punishing her by writing about it on this blog. So bad, right? She might as well have posted an ad on Craigslist. Oh, that reminds me of my Craigslist story! But that’s another post. Anyway, I’m on sabbatical from that whole game. Single Shibow. The Lone Wolf. And being The Lone Wolf rules. In short, I’d rather marry other people to each other right now. Unless this guy comes a-proposin’. Ma, quit blowin’ up my spot.

So, in addition to avoiding my mother and very carefully screening my emails, I’ve been trying to think of more light, sweet summer treats that will also help cool me down in this hot-as-an-overbearing-Indian-motha heat. I came across quite a few that have sort of helped, but none that have had quite the impact of these Blackberry Greek yogurt pops. They require a bit of time, love, tenderness, and Michael Bolton (last one’s optional) but they do not require an oven! By the way, I am all about trying those avocado pops at a later date, but if anyone gets to them before I do, please tell me how they are! In the meantime, let’s work on the yogurt ones:

Blackberry Greek Yogurt Pops

– Peel of 1 lemon

– 1/2 cup of water

– 1/2 cup of sugar

– 1 1/2 cups of plain nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage or Chobani are your best bets)

– 2 tablespoons of honey

– 2 cups of fresh blackberries (feel free to sub in your very favorite berries if you’re not a fan of the tartness of these)

To start, make sure you’ve got either a peeler or the hands of a surgeon while going at that lemon. I have neither. I and all nine and a half of my digits (I have a wonky thumb, which I’ll explain some other time…maybe when I tell you my Craigslist story) miraculously survived anyway. Throw the water and sugar into a saucepan and fire it up to medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar’s dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil. Toss in the lemon peel, then lower the heat to a simmer for about five minutes. Let it cool, then strain the syrup through a sieve and refrigerated until chilled.

Mix the yogurt and honey together in a bowl, then stir in the syrup until fully blended. Use your blender if you’re lazy. I did not use mine because I am a different kind of lazy. I do not like doing dishes. Pour a little bit of the mixture into each of your popsicle molds, then throw these into the freezer until the mixture just starts to set, about 40-45 minutes.

Take the molds out and divide your berries evenly among them. Pour in the rest of the yogurt mixture, snap the lids of the molds shut (some of the yogurt will likely splatter and land on or near your face, so feel free to lick it away), and freeze for at least three hours.

Sylvia enjoying her second pop in a row.

So, were these any good? Um…well…YES. I was a little uneasy about these at first because of both the tartness of the yogurt and the tang of the blackberries, but these were pretty phenomenal. My sister was in love, as you can see. This recipe will most certainly be used and tweaked a million times over the next couple of warm, steamy summer months. I see chocolate pops, raspberry pops, avocado pops and booze pops in my future. Lone Wolf baby!

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Sometimes I Try To Keep The Elders Happy (At Least When It Comes To Baking Stuff)

I had to add the parenthetical caveat, if only because I fear one of the aforementioned elders will somehow assume there’s a massive Indian wedding on the horizon. Anyway, my parents specifically (and probably a lot of the other older and wiser ladies and gents in the clan) are trying to cut down on their sugar intake. I don’t really understand this, since I operate on sugar and start to short-circuit whenever there’s a chocolate shortage in my home. I guess it’s health related since according to The Whole Entire World and this one Spongebob Squarepants episode I saw, sugar turns to bubbling fat and causes hella problems, yo.

Ok, ok, I know all this already. And I have been trying to get smart recipe-wise, at least for the summer. How am I supposed to get my regular dosage of sweetness and a. not totally sabotage myself and those around me and b. keep my oven time to a minimum?

Enter Eating Well, a surprisingly awesome, pretty healthy cooking magazine/site that bestowed upon me the gift of the blueberry tart with walnut crust. (Actually, on a side note, I’m really not sure if it’s supposed to be Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust. I mean, it’s not a dude or lady, but it is the name of a recipe. I’m kind of confused here…can someone help me out? As a former English major and lifelong nerd, I’m perplexed.) This is a perfectly light, delicious, summer-y treat that would be perfect as an Independence Day dessert for those of us who maybe don’t want to be completely nauseous when we decide that a few laps around the block after a slice plus a goblet full of pinot grigio is a good idea (for the record, my dad served me the wine).

A quick note: this does involve a leeeetle beet of oven usage. Not my favorite thing to do in this oppressive stank, but this crust was well worth it. In fact, it may just become my go-to crust for pretty much any pie I decide to whip up.

Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust

The Crust:

1 cup of whole-wheat graham cracker crumbs (I used Annie’s Organic Bunny Grahams)

1/4 cup of walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 egg white

1 tablespoon of melted butter or coconut oil (I decided to add my own spin/health profile because all of a sudden I’m feeling generous and knowledgeable)

1 tablespoon of canola oil

Pinch of salt

The Filling:

8 ounces of Neufchatel (reduced-fat) cream cheese

1/4 cup of reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 cups of fresh blueberries (a little more than a pint)

You know what I just found out? Those Bunny Grahams are pretty delicious. It's a good time to be a five year-old.

Ok, so, to start, let’s prep our crust. Preheat the oven to 325°F. I really enjoyed this process, because it involved a lot of crushing and crumbling and I was very angry. I don’t remember why, but I do remember watching one of the final episodes of Friday Night Lights while making this, and I’m really sad that it’s ending. Can’t it just be on forever, like Jeopardy! or the news? Anyway, to crush your crumbs, gather the grahams into a large resealable plastic bag and go at them with a rolling pin. It’s fun, I promise. When you’ve got a cup’s worth, throw them into a food processor with your walnuts. I’m not that fancy so I only have a blender with a “pulse” button, which worked out just perfectly for me. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whip up your egg white until it’s nice and frothy. Mix in the oils/melted butter, salt and cracker/walnut mixture until the mixture’s moist. Carefully press this mixture into the bottom of a removable-bottom 9-inch tart pan. I’m going to be honest with you folks, because I like you lots: I don’t have one of these pans, likely because, as I’ve told you, I am not fancy. I have a regular round cake pan and I also have parents who fortunately do not care at all about presentation. So, that’s what I used.

The yummy and-- shockingly-- pretty healthful crust

When it’s been evenly pressed into whatever pan you choose, send it into the oven until the sides are lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

While that’s happening, you can prep the incredibly easy and delicious filling. In a medium-sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer on low speed, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and maple syrup together. When it’s fully combined you’ll want to taste it. I am here to tell you to go with that urge.

Wait until the crust has been completely cooled. This is yet another instance where a quick blast in the freezer would do some good. Gently pour the filling into the pan and spread it evenly. Press blueberries into the filling, arranging them so that the top of the tart is swimming in berries. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to a day, before serving.


So, have I convinced you yet that you need this tart in your life? No? Well, let me take this further. Even my dad, who does not like this blog and for some reason does not like it when I bake (I chalk it up to jealousy. Old man’s a hater!), was ridiculously impressed by how light and yummy it was. He could not believe the crust was homemade, and both of my parents were thrilled that it wasn’t cloyingly sweet. Also, everyone went for seconds. Also also, I stole the rest of it and brought it back to my apartment with me. Remember how I said I like to give most of my desserts away? No one was getting near this one.

And because I am so pleased with myself, and am feeling incredibly generous and, uh, free, I guess, I’ll leave you all with a little present. Happy Fourth of July peoples!

Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights. You're welcome, America.
Chocolate Cheer Easy Baking Frozen Desserts No-Bake Recipes

Icebox Cake… Because It’s Easy, We’re Lazy and I’m in a Fight With My Oven.

Holy Stink City, Batman*! Did we ever really have a spring in NYC? I mean, it went from monsoon season to one big bikram yoga room. And it smells like a bikram session about half an hour in. Come on New Yorkers…I know you’re well aware of that, um, aroma, that envelops the city come summer. I started whiffing it weeks ago. At first I thought it was just me, but I smell like friendship and butterflies all the time. So there’s no way it’s me.

Anyway, because it’s hot as the Devil’s playground outside, it is EVEN HOTTER inside of my apartment. I’ve basically been living in my bedroom– the only room with an air conditioner– and enduring the stifling heat of the rest of my crib only when absolutely necessary. Know what’s not necessary? An oven. So I’ve been trying to avoid using mine as much as possible. That means lots of made-up stir-fry dishes featuring special guests from my pantry. It also means I need to figure out a new way to get my sweet tooth on.

Enter icebox cakes. Icebox cakes! How awesomely brilliant are these? Well, let me tell you how awesome. They involve your freezer, a bunch of yummy ingredients, and, typically, very little prep time. This cake in particular only calls for four ingredients. Four!

Basically, I was having a weeknight dinner party and needed a dessert that would be easy, delicious and would not require the use of my oven, which I obviously have a beef with right now (A beef. There’s no beef in it, though. I don’t even eat beef. Why am I telling you this?). Enter Martha Stewart (not really, since she wasn’t invited to the party) and the Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake. Behold, fellow lazies!

Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake

– 14 oz of semisweet baking chocolate

– 30 oz of part-skim ricotta cheese

– 3/4 cup of heavy cream

– Pretty much an entire box of Chocolate Teddy Grahams

Ok, so, the Teddy Graham situation. Basically, I couldn’t find chocolate wafers anywhere. Admittedly, I didn’t really scour every market in the whole world (read: Queens) for them, but you’d think they’d be easier to find. I used Teddy Grahams instead, which proved pretty painstaking, but ultimately delicious. Use the wafers if you’re cool enough to find them.

Start with a 9-inch springform pan. Remove the sides and lay a sheet of parchment paper over the bottom. Then lock the sides back in. It’ll look like your pan has a cape. Hehe. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

On to the good stuff: the chocolate and ricotta! Melt 12 ounces of the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl at 30-second increments, stirring after each nuke, until it’s smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta until it’s fluffy and smooth, then stir into the melted chocolate. In another bowl (yes, lots of bowls, I know, still no oven though!), beat the heavy cream with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold this into the chocolate-ricotta mixture until fully combined.

And now, my favorite part (sarcasm): the crust. Arrange the Teddy Grahams/wafers in the bottom of the pan so that they overlap. If you’re using Teddy Grahams, you now know why you’ll need the whole box. Congratulations and best wishes to you.

Check out my menacing shadow. These grahams don't stand a chance, man.

Once the bottom’s swimming in Teddies, pour half of the ricotta mixture into the pan, smoothing the top. Lay even more chocolate wafers/Grahams over this mixture until it’s completely covered, then finish with the remaining chocolate-ricotta goodness. Smooth the top, and shove this into your freezer for at least 6 hours, and preferably overnight.

Before you serve it, remove the sides of the pan. Then, using a vegetable peeler or a grater, shave the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate that you kept and most certainly did not eat because you thought Shibow had messed up the measurements on this over the top of the cake. When slicing, try to keep a bowl of hot water nearby. Dip your knife into the water after each slice. I did not do this, and because I had also had a heaping glass of chocolate-infused wine, some of my cake ended up on the floor and on my sister’s foot. She said it “felt mighty nice” though. It tasted even better. Oh, also, I don’t have a picture of the finished cake because I was busy drinking wine and dropping pieces of it on the floor. Feel free to check out Martha’s obviously perfect picture though by clicking over to her site.

*I will never stop finding “Holy _____  Batman” phrases entertaining. Sorry, folks.