Tag Archives: friends

Cooking With Friends: Fig Fest

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Figs

I’ve been delighted to get back in the kitchen recently. Cooking dinner for myself is one of my favorite ways to relax and be inspired. It’s been great to do more of that in the last few weeks. But another thing I’ve missed is cooking with friends. One of my very good friends is lucky enough to have a big fig tree in her backyard. (Yes, in the middle of the city!) Last year she and I started a little “Fig Fest” tradition where we spend the day cooking with this beautiful ripe fruit.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Fig Bourbon Fizz

We invited a few other people to join us – someone who lived down the hall freshman year, a former co-worker, a fellow food-blogger turned friend, a bocce team member, a friend’s classmate from grad school. This is one of my favorite things about being 26 in DC. Our networks have grown and it’s no big deal to mesh them together for an afternoon. We end up making new friends over making cocktails, August playlists, and discovering mutual experiences (like mice in our apartments or great first dates).

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Fig Bourbon Fizz

Sarah and Jenn whipped up these Bourbon Fig Fizzes for everyone and after Mike climbed down from picking the fruit we couldn’t reach, we toasted under the fig tree. Sunday afternoon. No plans but eating. Mason jars and cute mugs. Between rain storms. Cheers to the figs.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Struan toasts with gorgonzola figs and honey

Sarah and Sabiha prepped the ingredients for a savory fig chutney. The smell of vinegar and onions filled the kitchen. It would be a while until the chutney was ready and we needed some food to fill out fig-hungry stomaches. While I kept an eye on the stove, I quickly whipped up some little bites for us to nibble on. Toasted struan bread from the farmer’s market with crumbled gorgonzola (we also made some with goat cheese), sliced figs, and a drizzle of honey. This was my favorite way to eat the figs. They were so fresh and the simple flavors went so well together. They looked and tasted fancy – but really, they were just fresh.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Fig Fest Struan toasts with gorgonzola figs and honey

So first of all, go eat some fresh figs. Better yet if you can pick them yourself. And second, collaborate a little in the kitchen. With good friends and new friends. Share the chopping, muddling, and recipe tweaking. And of course, the best part, share the food.

Silver Linings

Cupcakes for Breakfast: silver lined tiramisu cupcakes

The first time I made these tiramisu cupcakes I didn’t get to eat them. I made them for an ex for Valentine’s Day but that night I came down with the flu and the next day he broke up with me. Clearly I wasn’t eating anything that week. I was upset about a lot of important things for a while, but I also kept thinking about these cupcakes that I sadly ended up just throwing away. I just wanted to try one and not feel sick. Ok, let’s not dwell.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: silver lined tiramisu cupcakes

So it’s been over two years and it was time to make the tiramisu cupcakes again. When you can’t stop thinking about a recipe (or a pair of shoes), go on, just make it (buy them!). I decided to bake these for an Oscars party with a bunch of girlfriends. Choosing the silver liners instead of dreaming up an actual silver-lined dessert was a bit of a cop-out, I know. But I didn’t care. Because I’ve been wanting to eat these cupcakes for two years now. And who else would I want to share them with than some of my best girlfriends, who I’m confident won’t dump me the next day and who are my silver lining.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: silver lined tiramisu cupcakes

I won’t get all sappy here. Let’s just get the good stuff. Fluffy, sweet mascarpone frosting. Cake soaked in a rich marsala-coffee syrup. So light and wonderful that you won’t realize you just ate three of them. Award-night-worthy.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: silver lined tiramisu cupcakes

The tiramisu cupcake recipe is from Martha Stewart and honestly I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I’m definitely going to experiment to see what else I can make with this mascarpone frosting – seriously, it took all my willpower to not just eat it out of the bowl with a spoon. Have any suggestions?

Cupcakes for Breakfast: silver lined tiramisu cupcakes

Buon appetito!

Crunchy Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

I’m just going to give you the moral of this story up front: baking for boys can be all sorts of fun, but baking for your friends is better. That’s kind of the moral of my life though.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

So, here’s what I propose. Make a really good chocolate cake. I’m still a huge fan of Martha Stewart’s one bowl chocolate cake, but I know we can’t all be Martha, so if you must use your favorite Duncan Hines box I promise I won’t tell and I promise no one will care. Put on a pot of coffee and while it brews, make this crunchy peanut butter frosting. Slab it all over the cake – if it’s messy, so what? You’re just going to start eating it now anyway. Lick the extra frosting off your fingers. Invite a good friend over. Gossip about the boys. Bite of rich, moist, crunchy cake. Laugh. Sip of coffee. Inappropriate joke. Repeat. Pack up pieces of cake for your friends to eat for lunch the next day. Extend the cake love.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: crunchy peanut butter chocolate cake

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

For any kind of chocolate cake – but I like Martha’s best.


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. Beat the cream cheese and the butter together.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and continue to mix well.
  3. Slowly add the sugar (sift it if you’re not lazy like me) and beat until incorporated.

crunchy peanut butter frosting and coffee

In the Kitchen with Friends

The first friendship I formed in college was a result of bonding over pink bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. That didn’t last too long though. One of our other roommates, Emma was pretty annoyed that I decorated my corner of the room with all things pink. It bothered me that she would sing while we studied. I don’t think either of us were convinced that we’d end up being friends.

But Emma and I found common ground in the kitchen. Our very very small (two people in there was a crunch) dorm room kitchen. In that kitchen where we realized we enjoyed each others company and our bold personalities could actually work together. Our friendship really began by making messes in the kitchen. We invented wafflefluff. We attempted to flambé bananas with Malibu Rum. We became friends over the stove. This was the first time I really realized that friends and food go together.

I’ve said often that the one thing they don’t teach you when you graduate college is that after, you have to learn how to make friends all over again. Sure you’re always going to have girlfriends from high school and college, but they don’t always live close. And when you’re out of school, you’re out of situations where you naturally make friends…so you have to work at it. I went on a lot of girl dates my first year or two out of college. I still do now. And it seems weird, but if you meet a girl that you think you might get along with you have to put yourself out there and just be like, “hi I’m Nikki, want to be friends?” It’s so strange. It’s like playing in the sandbox all over again. But that little bit of courage to pick up friends pays off – that’s how I met so many of my good friends today.

making Julia Child's chocolate souflee with friends

Some of my favorite moments of last year involved not only eating with good friends, but cooking with them too. We made pasta, funnel cake, cookies, chili, lovely cheese plates, sangria, pizza, fig chutney, guacamole, a patriotic fruit tart, and Julia Child’s chocolate soufflé.

The soufflé night was one of my favorites. Over two years ago I met Emily and Rachel at a bar. I don’t remember much about that evening except that it was sweltering hot, and as we tried to chat in front of a fan I thought they were sweet and fun. I held out my hand and introduced myself. Many brunches, books, boy stories, cheese, real marathons, figurative marathons, and glasses of wine later and we have a real girl-grown friendship. How cool is that?

Emily left yesterday and is off on what will absolutely be a life-changing adventure. But before she left we all made chocolate soufflé together. One girl stirs the melting chocolate, another beats the egg whites, another butters the ramekins. It’s not an easy recipe, but it’s much easier when you’re not alone. While we wait and the room fills with sweet chocolate smells, we go back to the wine, the boy stories, the new adventures. Oh, and then we eat. It’s simple, it’s chocolate, it’s friendship.

baking chocolate soufflé with friends

Not sure I can say completely why the kitchen is better with friends in it. Mostly it’s a big bowl of sappy feelings. But also, it’s creating something and sharing it together. It’s not materialistic or judgmental. It’s turning a brick of chocolate into a rich fluffy cloud. It’s celebrating how far we’ve come from that first bar or dorm room and how far we’ll go next.

I can only hope 2013 holds more moments in the kitchen with friends like this. We may even talk about pink monogrammed bedding (because seriously, it’s not like I’ve moved on from that!), but it will be over piled-high dishes, flour spills, “more wine?”s, and food that tastes like memories.

“Remember, no one’s more important than people. In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.”

-Julia Child, My Life in France