About Julie Seyler

Julie Seyler is a foodaholic, writer, and author of the blog, TwoBitTart.com. A graduate of culinary school and an itinerant student of gelato, pastry, and, most recently, Italian pasta, she labels herself neither Chef nor expert, but a chronicler of culinary vice. Follow her on Instagram: @TwoBitTart.

Rice Pudding Tart with Rum Raisins

A rice pudding tart with a piece removed

Today’s Musings:
The other day, I accidentally stumbled upon a photo of an ex-boyfriend. Fucking Facebook. My heart immediately jumped into my throat, my nerves felt jittery and I got a little flushed. “What the heck is this? Why is my body reacting this way?” I wondered.

I extricated myself from this man’s web years ago, processed the damage, recognized the situation for the disaster it was, and moved on. I dealt with that shit.  Today, I don’t care what he’s doing, nor do I care who he is doing it with, or where he’s doing it.

My reaction on seeing his image, made me wonder, “Am I harboring some sort of unprocessed emotion? What the fuck is going on?”

It seems this is an automatic response from my body and entirely normal. It doesn’t matter what my head tells me, my body is going to do its own damn thing.  This reaction is my fight or flight response. It is the same response I would experience if I came face to face with a lion. My autonomic nervous system’s way of telling me, “Danger, bad situation ahead!”  Even though it was just a photo, my body was saying, “Girl, you do not want to go there!”

So, my reaction was automatic and nothing I can influence.  My shit with him is processed, I am in my right mind, and my body is just doing its job.

If this ever happens to you, just acknowledge it and then let it go, which is exactly what I’ll do next time – rather than Googling the feeling to see what it was, ruminating on the flight or flight response and relationships, and writing this damn blog post about it.

However, now at least I know I cannot control what my body does in this situation. I can only control my reaction to it, and that reaction should be to acknowledge it, keep scrolling, and then…Let. That. Shit. Go.

Today’s Recipe:

Rice Pudding Tart with Rum Raisins

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
  • Print

Creamy, cinnamon-scented rice pudding dotted with rum-soaked raisins encased in a sugary cookie crust.


  • 1 cup uncooked Basmati rice
  • 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup (scant) golden raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon dark rum
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (generous) cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, well-beaten
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweetened whipped cream


  1. Make Rice: Rinse rice and place in a small saucepan with two cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until tender. Set aside rice in a bowl to cool.
  2. Make Rum Raisins: In a small bowl, combine golden raisins and rum. Heat in a microwave for one minute, stirring once. Set aside.
  3. Make Crust: Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Pat dough on the bottom and up the sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake about 25 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool.
  4. Make Rice Pudding: In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in egg until no cornstarch can be seen. Add milk then cooked and cooled rice.
  5. Place saucepan on medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Simmer until pudding is very thick, similar to the texture of thick oatmeal. Take saucepan off heat and stir in rum-soaked raisins and vanilla extract.
  6. Scoop rice pudding into pie crust and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring the plastic wrap makes contact with the pudding surface to avoid a skin. Chill at least two hours. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and dust with cinnamon. Let tart stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.


Beef Stroganoff Sandwiches with Pickled Fennel and Blue Cheese

A beef stroganoff sandwich on a wooden cutting board

Today’s Musings:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

In my first college writing class, on our initial assignment, the instructor chose me to begin the presentations.   Mortified, in a new classroom surrounded by strangers, my defense mechanism of shrinking violet mode would not save me.  I stumbled through the piece, a poem, my nervous energy escaping through my giggles throughout.  When I had finished, the instructor called out to the class for comments.  The lug-head of a jock sitting three rows away from me said, “I hate it.”  I don’t remember another comment after that.  I eventually dropped the class, not merely because of him, but his comment spurred my decision to give the class up.  I foolishly allowed some 23-year-old blockhead to deter me from a valuable opportunity.

I remind myself often, “it doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter,” but my prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part, and my limbic system, where my emotions and these negative comments reside, aren’t always on the best of terms.  Too often, I allow the shouts and epithets from the knuckleheads in the nosebleed seats to kick my limbic system into high gear.   No, I didn’t win, I wasn’t recognized, my effort wasn’t the best, but I tried – and the mere act of stepping into the ring is succeeding. 

Yeah, I know, you claim that you are so emotionally evolved that you don’t care what anyone thinks.  Brené Brown claims that’s impossible.  She maintains that we are literally hard-wired to take heed of what others think of us.  The trick, and the crux of my struggle, is to disregard the opinions of “those cold and timid souls” outside the ring.  

These critics admonish me for oversharing on this blog, caution me that my ugly truth is unappealing, could ruin relationships, could affect my career.  Why, they ask, put myself out there when what I’m writing is inconsequential and, “Once it’s on the Internet, you can never remove it.” On certain posts, like this one, I’m sick to my stomach after hitting the “post” button.  I’ve come to believe it’s a sign I’m at least in the arena, even if these attempts aren’t “valiant” or a “worthy cause.”  This sometimes raw and ugly honesty arises from my desire to ‘write what I know.’  And the depths of my psyche that I want to unearth and examine are not the light moments, not the easy moments, not the happy moments, but my cringeworthy worst.  I put myself out there, exposing my scars, both self-inflicted and perpetrated by others, while simultaneously assuring myself and others that I’m still okay.  If one reader can relate to the rocky path I’ve been forced to walk or the uncharted road I’m paving before me, if they can relate to my thoughts, both troubled and hopeful, if they see that I struggle, just like them, to figure it all out, then it’s worth it. 

Criticism, on the whole, isn’t bad or wrong.  No one likes a critique of what they hold dear, and, I’ve discovered, alas, that I’m more sensitive than most.  It’s difficult to be served up a dish of criticism with an open mind, especially when it flavors my intimate revelations, my personal scars, or projects and passions that reside close to my heart. I’m trying to learn to mindfully chew the bites I need to swallow without choking, while pushing the rest of the plate away.   I’m not looking to surround myself with a crowd of sycophants. When I bake and ask for opinions – I am TRULY looking for feedback, what worked and what didn’t, so I can step back in the ring with an improved recipe.  My struggle is separating the opinions of people I value, people who have been in their own ring, from the spectators who can only watch and critique.

As an event planner, one of my often-used quotes is, “everyone thinks they are an event planner.”  For 20 years, I’ve listened to spectators who believe they can do it better.  In my career, I adopted the idea of kaizen – continuous improvement.  There are clients of mine, trusted and respected, who provide me with important feedback on my events.  I listen and adjust when I can.  However, an attendee’s spouse, who complains to me, almost in tears, because they didn’t see any fish on their catamaran and snorkel excursion, is decidedly outside the arena.  No one, except a planner, understands the number of items one needs to get “right” to make a successful event – big things like flights, hotels, ground transportation, and food are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are pages and pages of details on my project plans. My other planner’s quote is, “Thank you for your feedback,” which essentially means, “Unless you’ve planned one of these yourself, your critique is meaningless.”

As I reread Roosevelt’s words and acknowledge that I spend too much time reacting to opinions from the peanut gallery, I decided to adopt a new strategy when faced with this feedback:  I will close my eyes, imagine myself escorting these unwanted critics to their appropriate seat, Row ZZ with the other “cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”, and then walk back down the stairs and continue to get on with my fight in the ring. 

Today’s Recipe:
This is my second entry for the theme of Sandwiches in January, combining all the comfort of Beef Stroganoff in a sandwich, perfect for a casual dinner or a filling lunch on a cold and rainy January afternoon, like today.

Beef Stroganoff Sandwiches with Pickled Fennel and Blue Cheese

  • Servings: 6 sandwiches
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A comfort food favorite reimagined into a hot, hearty sandwich.


  • 1 ¼ lbs. beef tenderloin or boneless ribeye
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced and ¼ cup chopped fennel fronds
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms (such as oyster, cremini, shitake), chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tablespoon red or white wine, divided
  • 1 ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 6 rolls (I use Bolillos)
  • Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups arugula
  • ½ cup blue cheese, crumbled


  1. Marinate Beef: Prick meat all over with a fork. Place in a baking dish and rub with soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. Make Pickled Fennel: Combine thinly sliced fennel, fennel fronds, white vinegar, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and fennel seeds. Add boiling water to just cover fennel and set aside.
  3. Make Stroganoff: Place chopped mushrooms into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave 4-5 minutes to release liquid. Mix together 1Tablespoon of mushroom liquid with dry mustard, sugar, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Drain mushrooms.
  4. Pat meat dry and cut into ½” cubes. Brown meat on all sides in a skillet over high heat. Do not overcrowd pan and reduce heat if fond at the bottom of the pan begins to burn. Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.
  5. Return skillet to heat. Add drained mushrooms, chopped onion, and a pinch of salt to skillet. Cook until vegetables begin to turn golden. Add tomato paste and flour and stir until mushrooms are coated. Add wine, beef broth and mustard paste, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is very thick. Add beef with any accumulated juices and warm through. Remove from heat and left rest for a minutes before stirring in sour cream and remaining Tablespoon of wine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Make Sandwiches: Toast Rolls, spread one side with a thin layer of Dijon mustard, layer with arugula, beef stroganoff, pickled fennel and crumbled blue cheese. Tuck in!

Chicken Tinga Sandwich

Today’s Musings:

Written December 30, 2022

I’m dangling; my fingers grip the few remaining crags of 2022 as I tentatively swing my leg out, searching for a foothold on the new year.  As I inch my way towards 2023, I take a long look over my shoulder at the past 365 days to measure my progress, measure the length of winding paths I’ve negotiated – and there is nothing there. Zip, zilch, nada.  In 2022, I accomplished nothing – unless you call staying alive an accomplishment, waking up to face each morning an achievement, doing my best at my job a success, keeping the weave of relationships together an accomplishment.  No, no, I’m not soliciting you to provide me with a list of my achievements.    I’m sure, if I concentrate, if I was forced to produce an annual self-review of 2022 for my merit increase, I’m sure I could think of triumphs, but as I take this moment to pause and reflect, nothing substantial bubbles up…and that’s alright.

Next year, just a few short days away, I begin navigating my way towards retirement.  Next year, I’m cutting back work hours to focus on my passions and my pleasures – and my head is overflowing with fresh ideas and long-lingering projects.  At the end of 2023, I will glance over my shoulder and say, “Ah, yes, I’ve traveled far.”

Before I move on to my recipe, however, I wanted to take a moment to thank the executives that I’ve worked with who allowed my dream of semi-retirement at 55 to come to fruition.  I understand my situation is unique; I know these are untested waters and this initial ride may be a bit bumpy.  I appreciate you taking the chance.  This same flexibility allowed me, in 2009, to go to Culinary School by day (a life-long dream) and work nights and again, in 2017, when I became an “Implementation Consultant” and returned to the fold when my reporting situation became untenable.  I know you’ll never read this post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t voice my gratitude.  20 years and counting.

Today’s Recipe:

Chicken Tinga Sandwich

  • Servings: 6 sandwiches
  • Print

I created this sandwich in 2013, after I made Chicken Tinga in a Phoenix cooking class. I’ve taken my original complicated recipe and simplified it into a 30-45 minute meal.


  • 1 onion, ½ thinly sliced and ½ chopped
  • ½ cup vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ – 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes (OK if the tomatoes include garlic or chilies)
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped with 2 Tablespoon adobo sauce, divided
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano (Mexican oregano preferred), divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 6 rolls (I used Mexican Bolillos)
  • cilantro (optional)
  • guacamole or sliced avocados
  • Cotija cheese


  1. Make Pickled Onions: In a small bowl, combine sliced onions, vinegar, sugar, orange juice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour boiling water over onions to just cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Make Chicken Tinga: Sauté chopped onions in oil in a large sauté pan until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add tomatoes, chipotle chile and 1 Tablespoon adobo, oregano, bay, cumin, cinnamon, chicken, and broth or water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make Chipotle Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise with remaining 1 Tablespoon adobo.
  4. Make Sandwiches: Toast rolls, spread with Chipotle mayonnaise, guacamole, chicken tinga, pickled onions, cilantro and cotija cheese.

Eccles Cakes

A plate of Eccles Cakes with a cup of tea

Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of an Anglophile. And, with the holidays just around the corner, I don’t simply dream of a white Christmas, but a Dickensian one. I imagine a holiday with Victorian carolers strolling snow-covered cobbled streets, a cozy Cotswold cottage lit with candles and scented with crackling roast goose and steamy figgy pudding, pulling Christmas crackers with family and friends around the table, and nibbling treats like these very British Eccles cakes.

The Eccles cake may have been created about 20 years before Dickens was even born, yet these are just the type of sweetmeat I imagine gracing Mr. Fezziwig’s overladen Christmas Eve party table.

Eccles Cakes

An Eccles cake is a small, heavily spiced pastry filled with currants and candied orange peel wrapped in a flaky (rough puff) pastry. The origins can be traced to the town of Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary, but now a suburb of Manchester. Weights are in grams, nodding to their British origin.


  • 120 grams currants
  • 50 grams candied orange peel, chopped
  • 50 grams butter, softened
  • 40 grams light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • Zest of ¼ lemon
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 1 Tablespoon brandy
  • Pastry
  • 250 grams All-purpose flour
  • 5 grams salt
  • 250 grams very cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 125 milliliters ice-water
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)


  1. Stir together all filling ingredients in a small bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute until butter is melted. Cover and set aside for the flavors to meld and currants to soften. Refrigerate. Once cold, the filling should bind together without extra liquid. Drain if necessary.
  2. Pulse flour, salt and butter in a food processor until butter pieces are pea-sized. Gradually pulse in about 100-125ml cold water until mixture comes together into a dough. Do not overwork.
  3. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down into the middle, then the bottom third up over the top, then rotate the pastry 90 degrees so the fold is now vertical. Roll out again and repeat then wrap in cling-wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding, rotating, rolling and folding one more time. Chill for an hour.
  4. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface a little thicker than 1/8th of an inch, then cut out rounds about 3 ½ inches wide. Put a half-tablespoon of filling in the center of each, then dampen the edges of the circle and bring the edges into the middle, pinching together to seal well. Put on a parchment-lined baking tray smooth side up, and squash slightly until flattened. Repeat with the rest and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove pastries from refrigerator, brush with egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut three slashes in the top of each and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden and well-risen. Allow to cool before eating – the filling will be hot.

Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

A plate of carrot cupcakes with carrot decorations and a cup of tea

Today’s Musings:
During my online dating years, I’d roll my eyes at the triteness of profiles that claimed, “I’m as comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt as I am in a suit and tie,” as if that sentence proclaims, “I’m a tangle of contradictions.”   All that tells me is you’re not a stuffy elitist or backwater hillbilly.

 In my relationships, I often feel the other person doesn’t see me as I truly am, but rather they narrowly define me as they want me to be.  But, then again, why should they – I am a kaleidoscope of contradictions, turn me one way and see one thing, turn me another and other colors and patterns emerge.  I am a human Rorschach test – what do you see? 

Staring at my fingertips, I delight in my dirt manicures from Sunday gardening as much as my freshly painted digits on Monday.  I deftly tick off each item on my long to-do list in the morning and lie, sloth-like, on the couch binge-watching Better Call Saul in the evening.  After a recent camping trip with Mr. M, friends and siblings said, “you must really like him,” as if I’m only comfortable enrobed in the luxe of a Ritz Carlton. I’m horrified that I can walk through the streets of my neighborhood noticing the details – the scent of orange blossoms, the buzz of a hummingbird, the fluffy tail of a squirrel and simultaneously walk blindly past the homeless woman sitting on the curb.  My irreverent words can end long-held friendships, my posts ignite family controversy, yet I yearn to be proper and not ruffle a feather.  I sign up for every Meetup, my social calendar bulging at the seams, while an afternoon of quiet solitude at home with my phone switched to silent mode restores me. The suburbs have never fulfilled me, yet I’ve spent more than half my life with green lawns and welcome mats.  I desire acreage, a forest filled with birdsong, a nearby stream where I can dip my feet, with a Michelin-starred chef around the corner, a music venue that books the newest bands, and a museum showing the Egon Schiele retrospective, an impossible amalgamation. I’m blissfully happy driving the winding roads of an unfamiliar country and just as content steering through the curves of a good bit of fiction, ensconced at home, my two cats curled up and sleeping contently beside me.  I am level headed and calm and I am emotional and irrational.  I can be as competent as I am unsure and clueless. I am both intrepid warrior and fair maiden in equal measure.

I am an inkblot of contradictions.

Today’s Recipe:
When I worked at the steakhouse, chef nixed my suggestion to offer carrot cake on our dessert menu. He claimed carrot cake was too divisive – carrot cake lovers have strong beliefs when it comes to the proper ingredients…nuts or no nuts, raisins or no raisins, and, if raisins are allowed, black or golden raisins.  The carrot cake debate, in his mind, was as impassioned as “does pineapple belong on pizza?”

If given the chance, I would have served the recipe below, which, for this baker who usually gilds the lily, is surprisingly straightforward.  No nuts, no raisins, – and just a bit of pineapple for flair.  I like pineapple on my pizza – and in my carrot cake, too.  Served with cream cheese frosting, it ticks all the boxes.

My Favorite Carrot Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: One Dozen Cupcakes
  • Print

This is my go-to carrot cupcake recipe – the secret ingredient in this moist version is a bit of pineapple.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon (generous) cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon (generous) ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon (generous) allspice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups grated peeled carrots
  • ¼ cup drained crushed pineapple
  • Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, well chilled
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, scraped


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper baking cups.
  2. Sift first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. Beat together sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl for about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture in two additions, beating until just blended after each addition. Stir in carrots and pineapple.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool.
  4. To make frosting, beat chilled cream cheese and softened butter 2 minutes. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla bean. Beat on low 30 seconds until fully combined. Continue beating on high for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.