June 13, 2011

Big Girls, Small Kitchen Lotus Blondies & Giveaway! {Naptime Special}

Lotus Blondies

Phoebe and Cara’s website, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, was one of the first blogs I ever read. We started blogging around the same time and I remember being immediately taken in by their cool concept of quarter-life cooking. To be honest, I felt a little bit like I was reading a flashback to my own twenties in New York. For five years I lived in a one room studio with a kitchen that had been converted out a closet. Those were the days when the cutting board was always spread over my sink and the two mixing bowls I had were in constant rotation. I even had to hang the dish rack over my sink to drain after I hand washed it dish. Good times.

Apparently I am not the only one who was reading Phoebe and Cara’s blog — I am not surprised by this — and fast forward to today when they are officially published authors. Hooray! I was so excited when I got their book, In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from our Year of Cooking in the Real World in the mail I could hardly contain myself. Despite the fact that I am, ah-hem, not in my twenties anymore, their style of recipes appeal to me and I love their just hangin’ out with friends style.

The first thing that I found so interesting about this volume is the organization. Unlike a traditional cookbook, this one is arranged by occasion and introduced by a personal essay. What are the foods that Cara and Phoebe make when they are alone make up one chapter, another is based on good foods to take to work for lunch. All of these situations are typical of the twenty-something city dweller, traipsing to work in flats, changing into heals, back into flats to swing by the market on the way home. They even are kind enough to address the important questions faced during those years: Is it weird that I get up early to make breakfast before going to work? Do I live on my own or with roommates? What is the best kind of wine to bring for dinner? How do I host a dinner party at my coffee table? Is it worth splurging on the guy I just met?

While the primary audience for this blog is quarter-lifers I am writing about it today because I think a lot of you — over the quarter-lifers — would enjoy it. The writing is witty and fun, the dishes are accessible and interesting. And, frankly, there are a few things that could quite easily fall into a dinner rotation. The shrimp risotto comes to mind, as well as the baked chicken.

Today I am sharing one of my favorite recipes from the book, Lotus Blondies. These salty sweet bars were developed by Cara to give to her sister after a silly squabble over a lotus necklace. They came together quickly and easily for me during naptime and were devoured by my family in no time. Trust me, if these peak your interest then you’ve just begun to get a taste for what’s in store in this book.

For Your Chance to Win a Copy of In the Small Kitchen:

1. Leave a comment sharing a favorite meal or dish you made in your early twenties!

2. Sign up for The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper left corner)

3. Like The Naptime Chef on Facebook.

4. Contest runs from June 13th at 7:00am through June 20th at 11:59pm.


Lotus Blondies

from In the Small Kitchen


2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews, chopped
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips





1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the sugar, stirring well until the mixture begins to bubble. Pour it to a heatproof mixing bowl and place it in the fridge until it is cooled to room temperature. About 20 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the fridge and stir in the eggs, and vanilla. Then add the flour, salt, nuts and chips, stirring everything until just combined and the flour is no longer showing.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is puffed up and crusty. Let the pan cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.



Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

These would make an excellent sundae topped with ice cream. They are also transportable and would do well on a beach picnic!


Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time (includes cooling time), 25 minutes baking time

Naptime Reviews

Ooey, gooey, salty and sweet. Delicious!


28 Responses to “Big Girls, Small Kitchen Lotus Blondies & Giveaway! {Naptime Special}”

  1. Anne-Marie Miller says:

    Ah, memories of my closet kitchen in Boston. 🙂 I used to like to make risotto, back when I had time to stir.

  2. Keisenpress says:

    As the sister who received these, I must say, that the deliciousness of these made up for Cara wearing my favorite necklace (and 18th birthday gift) far beyond the lending period. 

  3. Emily Hylden says:

    well, i still *am* in my twenties, and for the first time since college, am finding myself without any kitchen appliances other than a fridge and microwave!  i foresee a lot of creative cooking this summer…  (what comes to mind is my grandma’s recipe for peanutbutter fudge bars, which only need a 9×13 pan and microwave to complete!)

  4. Lyndsey says:

    I used to make baked Mac n Cheese ALL the time! I’d make a big batch and then eat it all week. You can’t get sick of eating Mac n Cheese 🙂

  5. Tina E. says:

    Early twenties. That’s a long time ago. I was working professionally as a candy maker, so I can tell you that my repertoire consisted of candied apples, caramel apples, divinity, glazed pecans, pralines, caramel turtles (but I can’t really call them that), and fudge. I had a way with sugar. At home, I’d make a turkey dog and call it a day.

  6. Jess @ Floptimism says:

    This sounds right up my alley! I’m in my twenties and spend the school year in a small apartment, fending for myself in terms of food. My favorite dinner is always pancakes, actually. I do make more intricate dishes, but ultimately, I keep coming back to breakfast-for-dinner. I find it comforting and simple – it reminds me of home – plus, it always fits into my budget and I can mix it up to make it as healthy (or not) as I feel like.

  7. Courtney says:

    Lasagna.  It was the only real food I could make at the time.  Just a really good, simple lasagna.  Plus it heats up really well and when you get home after a night of drinking some good food really fits the bill.  I am officially out of my twenties this week but people still ask me to make that lasagna.

  8. ilona t says:

    eggo waffles with ice cream was a favorite meal back then!

  9. Angela H. says:

    Lol…early 20s consisted of a lot of Ramen or spaghetti as I was just learning to cook. 🙂

  10. jane says:

    I guess this is pretty boring, but I used to get the biggest sweet potato I could find, bake it and make it my dinner while in college.  I still love my sweet potatoes, but I’ve found much more creative ways to prepare them now that I’m in my later twenties.

  11. Have you seen the Oak Bars recipe from Lucy Baker’s “The Boozy Baker?”  They’re blondies with Chardonnay, butterscotch chips, & cashews … the cashews in your recipe made me think of the Oak Bars.  You can check it out on my blog, if you’d like.  I’ll have to give your blondie version a whirl!!

  12. Chris says:

    Baked salsa chicken.  Thanks.

  13. TheScorpioWoman says:

    I made so many recipes in my early twenties.  But I remember doing rhubarb squares that were so yummy.  I have the recipe somewhere but it’s in French. 

  14. TheScorpioWoman says:

    I subscribed to your blog via email 🙂

  15. TheScorpioWoman says:

    I already like the Naptime Chef on facebook

  16. Miranda says:

    I’m a subscriber.

  17. Miranda says:

    My go to meal in my 20s was spaghetti with meat sauce.

  18. Cindi Hoppes says:

    I enjoyed making my Grandma’s Lasagne Recipe in my
    early twenties!
    Many thanks, Cindi

  19. Cindi Hoppes says:

    I am a email subscriber to The Naptime Chef…
    Again, many thanks to you!

  20. Cindi Hoppes says:

    I “Like” The Naptime Chef on Facebook.
    Merci, Cindi
    Cindi H.

  21. Spangler says:

    The grill was my best friend in those days.   We would often do corn-on-the-cob on the grill along with BBQ  chicken and some homemade potato salad.

    I receive your newsletter, but I do not participate in Facebook at all for personal reasons.  I do like you and your recipes though!!

  22. Love making a simple curry!

  23. I liked the Naptime Chef on FB

  24. I’m already signed up for the newsletter

  25. Amanda Thompson says:

    I made a lot of lemon chicken in my early twenties.

  26. Beth Lobbin says:

    Kelsey I just started reading your blog and I love it! I found it when looking for a recipe for pineapple mint sorbet and promptly signed up for your newsletter :). I have two girls – 2 and 5 and I have always been a nap time chef! With my second, I even wore her in a carrier on my back while I cooked! LOL. Anyhow, for your contest – my favorite recipe from my early twenties was “angel chicken pasta” from allrecipes.com.

    • Kelsey says:

      Hi Beth, Welcome! I am so glad you see you here. That is funny about carrying your daughter on your back, I did that a few times, too! Enjoy the site and never hesitate to let me know if you hve questions! Best, Kelsey

  27. I like all chickens but lemon chicken is my favorite.