Have you seen Ben Stiller’s movie, While We’re Young?  Well, if you haven’t, there’s no need to really.  Given that it has its moments here and there, all in all, it’s not entirely spectacular.  But the reason that I’m bringing it up is because – well, equally as unspectacular and unrelating to the majority demographic – I’m kind of in the same pickle.

I’m 36 years old, and very early on in life, I have made a very conscious decision not to have children.  I’m happy married, stable, as far as I know, reproductively unchallenged and relatively speaking, mentally healthy, and I consider myself an affectionate if not responsible dog-parent.  So as I said, the decision is a very deliberate one and the reasons for which, well lets just say, don’t quite belong in this post.  Uh, ok whatever, might you add, but where’s my fucking pickle?  Well, this is where the movie might be more articulate, not to say much more entertaining, in illustrating my quandary.  Thing is, most of our friends, with all due respect and our best wishes, have buckled together on the baby-train and exited through the other side of the crossroad in life in sort of a Groupon strategy, leaving us, a bit unprepared, in a social limbo.

That’s correct.  We are them, the friends without children.  The awkward pre-middle-aged couple who didn’t get the memo that, at this point in life, a dinner party that ends at 10 pm on a Saturday night, however frisky with all the right signals to assume more, is the end of the program.  Where to next?  Theirs kids’ swimming lesson at 8 am the next morning, and our party equivalent of blue balls that night iced with yet another Netflix binging.  But listen, I get it.  People’s priorities change as life evolves, and as their friends, we shall respect that.  Which is exactly why it’s ok that the number of friends to call for a drink and their level of energy to participate is together in a fierce race to hit the bottom.  And the rule that there are things that just shouldn’t be placed in close proximity, such as fire and curtains, me and donuts, and in this instance, conversations and this thing called the baby monitors, are more frequently being broken.  Which is why, I’m not filing a complaint, but to simply say, oops.

But why now?

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It may seem totally self-absorbed and obnoxious to bring this up at a baby shower.  Yes, this is a baby shower!, for my friend Cynthia who just gave birth to their baby boy Luke!  And seriously, earnestly, for Cynthia who has been one of the most amazing human beings I know of (She’s a full-time lawyer/woman/wife/daughter-in-law/blogger/then pregnant/now mother, I mean do you feel me!), I wish them all the exuberating enthusiasms and my best positivism at this special moment in their lives.  Reading her unpackaged words of tenderness and content, as a dog-mom, whether anybody disputes it or not, I can relate.  So I am happy, for her.  Even though it means that soon after, I will have to hang outside a 24/7 convenience store, asking strangers if they want to break a donut with me.

To celebrate Two Red Bowl’s baby birthday and our social demise, I have prepared, in the theme of bowls, egg florentine in pullman “bowls” with burnt butter hollandaise.  Well, more box than bowl but you know what I mean, and let’s not forget that this is a very cute and kid-friendly idea, no?… (or that I’m more out of sync with the other side of the world than I realize).  The original inspiration comes from a Taiwanese street-food where they deep-fry a cutout box of pullman bread then fill it with seafood chowder.  But that’d be just wrong for moms and kids, right?, totally irresponsible.  So for the sake of the health of our next generation of pillars of the world, we are only going to discreetly pan-fry these in an indecent amount of butter until they are practically soaked inside and deliciously crispy and golden on the outside.  You know, the butter-exuding crunch?  And with the next point, don’t say that I don’t understand raising children, because we are going to cut out a hole on top, and hide a healthy pile of garlic spinach with a bed of creamy Laughing Cow’s spreadable cheese.  Bribery.  Yeah.  I know all about that.  Then finally, we top each bowls – or what I would like to imagine as little boxed presents from Yummy Town – with bursting soft-boiled eggs and a lava-waterfall of my foolproof, burnt butter hollandaise sauce.

Each bite is a fluent, harmonic dance of crispy and runny, crunchy and creamy, buttery and buttery yet there’s spinach.  Big “bowls” for parents, small bowls for children, and baby Luke gets to suck the runny yolks.  I’ve got all grounds covered.  So.  Next weekend.  Can we exploit the only benefit of the in-laws, and let’s hit bar?


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Hey it’s a party!  And here are the rest of the bowls:

I am a Food Blog | Mac and Kimcheese Dolsot Bibimbap
Fix Feast Flair | Dishoom’s Chicken Ruby Murray
The Fauxmartha | Mom Lunches
A Cozy Kitchen | Cornbread Chicken + Dumplings
Cake Over Steak | Salted Caramel Chocolate Crackles
The Pancake Princess | Stovetop Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Snixy Kitchen | Chicken Pot Pie with Chestnut Biscuits
Betty Liu | Honeynut Squash Congee
Style Sweet CA | Date Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls 
Warm Vanilla Sugar | Broccoli Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Sauce
A Beautiful Plate | Coconut Cauliflower Soup
Girl Versus Dough | Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup
Fork to Belly | A Big Hawaiian Fruit Bowl
Donny Tsang | Chawanmushi
Wit & Vinegar | Jerk Chicken Chili
Constellation Inspiration | Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mochi
twigg studios | Katsu Udon Soup wth Popcorn Chicken Croutons
Edible Perspective | Acorn Squash Bowls with Pears, Pecans, and Vanilla Bean Cream
Coco Cake Land | Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies
Southern Souffle | Sorghum Apple Biscuits In A Bowl
The Bojon Gourmet | Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup
Flourishing Foodie | Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup 
What should I eat for breakfast today | Little Bowl with Creamy Polenta, Cheese, Onions and Mushrooms
Top with Cinnamon | Squash & Crispy Kale Bowls with Pomegranate and Miso-Ginger Dressing
the broken bread | Roasted Celeriac + Fennel Soup
Fig+Bleu | Cauliflower Harissa Soup
my name is yeh | Corn Dog In A Bowl
Crepes of Wrath | Mini Scallion Pancake Challah Buns
O&O Eats | Persimmon Cobbler
Chocolate + Marrow | Parsnip + Potato Soup with Crispy Pancetta
With Food + Love | Caramelized Golden Beet Soup with Fall Roots + Garlicky Yogurt


Serving Size: 2 adults + 1 toddler


  • 1 whole loaf of pullman toast
  • 4~5 tbsp unsalted butter, or more
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups (290 grams) blanched/squeezed spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5~6 tbsp Laughing Cow spreadable cheese, or other soft cheese you prefer
  • 1 batch of burnt butter hollandaise sauce


  1. We are going to start with soft-boiled eggs and garlic spinach because both can be prepared before hand. If I'm preparing more than a couple eggs for brunch, I like to do soft-boiled instead of poached. It's much easier to manage, tastes just as great and frankly, I even prefer how it looks. My tested (and blessed with superstitions) way of making easy-to-peel soft-boiled eggs is this:
  2. MAKE SOFT-BOILED EGGS: Bring a deep pot of water plus a tsp of salt to boil, NOT SIMMER, but like a full boil (do not start with eggs in cold water). Gently lower your eggs into the boiling water, which will immediately cool it down to a simmer. Lower the heat down just enough to keep it at a gentle bubbling, then cook for 5 min. Then immediately transfer the eggs into cold water until cooled down completely. You can now peel them and keep them plastic wrapped, or you can peel right before use. Either way, submerge them in hot tap water for 1 min to warm up before using.
  3. MAKE GARLIC SPINACH: After you blanch and shock the spinach, make sure it is completely squeezed dry, then chopped them coarsely and set aside. In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat, then add the garlics. Move the garlics around with a tongs until the edges are slightly browned, then add the spinach, salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Toss everything together with a tongs until evenly incorporated. Set aside. Reheat over medium-high heat before using.
  4. MAKE A BATCH OF BURNT BUTTER HOLLANDAISE SAUCE: The only difference I made with this recipe this time, is that I add a few drops of tabasco sauce at the ed. Make this right before you start with the pullman bowls.
  5. MAKE PULLMAN BOWLS: Cut the pullman bread into large 3 1/2" (12 cm) square boxes for adults, or small 2 1/2" (9 cm) square boxes for kids. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt enough butter to generously coat each sides of the boxes, then turn and toast until golden browned and crispy on all sides. Each time you turn the boxes, you'll need to add more butter to coat. About 1~2 tsp of butter for each sides (goes without saying that the more butter you use, the crispier nuttier and decadent the boxes will be).
  6. TO ASSEMBLE: Use a serrated knife to cut a hole out of each boxes. Add a couple tbsp of Laughing Cow spreadable cheese (or other soft cheeses like brie or sweet creamy blue cheese) on the bottom, then fill the hole with garlic spinach. Top with 2 soft-boiled eggs for adults and 1 for kids, then pour a good serving of burnt butter hollandaise sauce on top.
  • Olaiya

    November 3, 2016 at 8:55 PM Reply

    Oh my god. Feel you on this one. Especially the “hey guys, it’s only 10pm why are you all going home now???” part. Also, these bowls look crazy good. Not sure I’m up to stalking a good pullman loaf this weekend, but def am up to that burnt butter hollandaise. Thanks for the inspiration (and for being so honest about the world of being over 35 and not having kids). xo.

    • kimithy

      January 26, 2017 at 1:27 AM Reply

      Yes, agreed – we’re in the same boat (30’s, no kids, friends-with-kids distancing). When we meet people our age with kids there’s this weird thing that often happens when they find out we don’t have kids: either 1) they kind of go “Oh…neat”, and make it clear that as such they have no use for us, or 2) they pepper us with tons of questions about our leisure time / work / etc and sort of frantically exoticize our lives, which is really hard to respond to. One couple actually devolved our relationship to only contacting us when they need someone to watch their dog since we “have more time” (wtf, no). We’ve ended up with a friend group of primarily kidless folks as a result, which luckily hasn’t reduced our social lives since so many people these days are deciding not to have them. But it’s a shame, since we really valued many of those friendships with parents!

  • Jessica

    November 3, 2016 at 9:04 PM Reply

    This looks so INCREDIBLE. I love anything with a hollandaise sauce. Also – about your baby quandry – you guys aren’t awkward. At least, I don’t think so. You’ve got one life to live and you might as well live it the way you want – sans other people’s expectations and judgments. Congrats to Cynthia and congrats to your happy, childless, food-full life! :D

  • Joy

    November 3, 2016 at 9:46 PM Reply

    So it’s been 4 years since I first started reading your blog, I don’t think I’ve become a better cook….it’s mostly been increased rate of hunger and heartbeat….

    Lots of love<3

  • Sonia moore

    November 3, 2016 at 9:54 PM Reply

    Brilliant inventive exciting snd delicious
    I love your pullman boxes xxx fab phoyography too xxx sonia penguin books london

  • heather (delicious not gorgeous)

    November 3, 2016 at 10:53 PM Reply

    ooh, love this use for pullman bread; i’ve seen it cut into boxes like this for honey toast, but never anything savory!

  • Katrina

    November 3, 2016 at 11:05 PM Reply

    Everything about this is fantastic! You win and creative breakfast, my friend!

  • stein

    November 4, 2016 at 12:16 AM Reply

    I love L&P even though it puts gluttonous ideas into my head and then my body. FWIW, I too, at a very early age decided against having children. I’m 71 now and have never regretted that decision for an instant.

  • Dawn Barnhart

    November 4, 2016 at 1:18 AM Reply

    I too made the same no-kids decision many years ago. No regrets. However, I also am going thru the “friend-desert” and have for a number of years. I think I am just now able to see an end to it … or it may still be a mirage.

  • Amanda

    November 4, 2016 at 3:32 AM Reply

    This is stunning and I completely hear you and love that you brought up this issue. I am your age and on the fence re babies. I am also a lawyer/woman/blogger and love both yours and Cynthia’s blogs. Living in NYC I find tons of ppl who remain single ir choose not to have kids but we’re also always invited to showers and parties that quiet down at 10p. It’s an interesting place to be. This is such a perfect bowl idea and I love your creativity as much as your photos. Making this! Be well.

  • Lilly Rose

    November 4, 2016 at 4:02 AM Reply

    Is it those who have had children who have exited life or is it those who choose not to who are choosing to stay where they are and not continue on with the journey of life? Not everyone wants to stay in their 20s and 30s for ever! For all your exclamations to the opposite you are clearly so full of judgement for your friends choices, don’t be surprised when you do find yourself in a friendship desert. It’s funny how people expect acceptance from others yet do not have any acceptance of others themselves.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      November 4, 2016 at 1:33 PM Reply

      your name is beautiful :)

      • georgie@icookstuff

        November 5, 2016 at 3:44 PM Reply

        ha ha haa haaaaaaaa …. a pretty name indeed ! :)

      • Christine C.

        November 6, 2016 at 6:28 AM Reply

        Your response is equally beautiful. Heh.

        I didn’t read any judgment into this post, having children is a personal decision. It is equally judgmental to say someone is “stuck in ____ (insert decade)” as it is to demean parenthood.

        Glorious Mandy, how long do soft-boiled eggs keep before they start to taste off? The photos in this post are pure yolk porn.

        • mandy@ladyandpups

          November 7, 2016 at 3:02 AM Reply

          Christine, hehe thanks. Given the runny nature of the yolks, I wouldn’t do it more than 6 hours ahead for room temperature, or you can store them in the fridge, but may have to warm them up longer.

          • Stein

            November 8, 2016 at 2:20 AM

            Lilly does not address the most serious consequence of forgoing offspring: The acute shortage of children presently threatening our planet.

  • Me Lea

    November 4, 2016 at 4:59 AM Reply

    I didn’t have kids either – however there have always been plenty to go around in my family and have lots of friends with kids so I get a baby fix often enough to make me very happy. As for this recipe OMG – one of my favourites already but this just is insane! Think it will be my Boxing Day Brekkie!

  • Joyce @ Sun Diego Eats

    November 4, 2016 at 5:18 AM Reply

    ummm we don’t have kids or dogs and are not married and i STILL feel like going to bed at 10pm on a saturday is a great success/indulgence/point of pride so you’re doing better than we are.

    p.s. i don’t think babies can eat soft egg yolks BUT the toasts kind of look like elmo faces with the two eggs on top, except for the baby one that looks like a tiny cyclops infant elmo face. so in a way, baby appropriate.

  • stephanie

    November 4, 2016 at 9:12 AM Reply

    dude these are amazing! please feed me :)
    also i had a blast reading through your comments LOL. i love the balls you have mandy – you throw it out there like it is, for yourself. you’re awesome!!

  • Angela - Patisserie Makes Perfect

    November 4, 2016 at 7:20 PM Reply

    These look amazing and so cute, the oozing egg yolk coupled with the hollandaise looks delicious. I completely feel your pain over the whole not having children debacle. I am 34 and my boyfriend and I have actively chosen not to have children, so we now have friends that we have to book a night out with month’s in advance, or friends much older who’s children have moved on.

    We now have a dog, which means morning walks before the kids play football in the park are the order of the day. I don’t regret it for a minute, but until we got a dog, I did feel that some people were almost suspicious of the fact that we don’t have children!

  • Cheri

    November 5, 2016 at 4:36 AM Reply

    Indecently gorgeous. More steps than what I usually am willing to do for breakfast but I think I may have to exert myself for these. Despite never commenting before I am a big fan of your recipes and blog. Thanks :)

  • georgie@icookstuff

    November 5, 2016 at 3:46 PM Reply

    I just wanna say that this is such a WONDERFULLY TOUCHING & HEART-WARMING creative idea & gesture ! This is going to make the parents SO HAPPY ! It’s stuff like this that encourages me to continue blogging (even though I often feel like saying, “yeah, that’s enough, time to stop …”). Yet I soldier on. And yeah, h how I wish I could have been part of this magical sharing moment too !!! Great job, take care … :)

  • Marta

    November 6, 2016 at 2:43 AM Reply

    hahahaahahah YOU ARE THE BEST! Your post made my day! I am so with you on this one! And I’m a mother :D I want to go out, get drunk and be irresponsible. Or just dance till 6 am, talk about not-kids-related-subjects. But it seems to be impossible. <3 <3 <3

  • Ruby & Cake

    November 6, 2016 at 12:29 PM Reply

    I am in the same pickle. Made the decision not to have children early on yet people still fix me with a pitying stare and say “there’s still time.” or my favourite “maybe you’ll change your mind”. Nooooope. And all social engagements seem to revolve around these little infants. Its not bad, its actually quite lovely just a friggin adjustment I am not in the mood for. I want these eggy boxes of perfection now please. Beautiful!!!

  • Amon

    November 8, 2016 at 5:33 AM Reply

    My girlfriend and I are both in our mid-30s and we’ve decided to not have children either. But we still meet a lot of people multiple times a week and from time to time we still like to go dancing until the early morning hours. How did we avoid social isolation? By going out frequently and meeting new people. Of course, quite a few of them are younger than us. This doesn’t have to mean that those new friendships are shallow or have a short lifespan. Stay open minded, humble and friendly. Find people who like to have all kinds of conversations. Sometimes you just gotta listen, sometimes your life experience will let you say things people will like to listen to. Keep cool and don’t worry too much. It’s gonna be just fine.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      November 8, 2016 at 10:47 AM Reply

      Amon, thanks for the good advice! That’s what the movie was about (of course with some needed drama and whatnot).

  • Service AC

    November 8, 2016 at 9:57 AM Reply

    What a lovely recipe, really wanna make that when i arrived later at home, Thanks

  • service ac jogja

    November 9, 2016 at 5:41 PM Reply

    wow,, very delicious… like it

  • cynthia

    November 14, 2016 at 12:19 PM Reply

    This is still completely blowing my away. Buttery Pullman bread boxes, spinach tucked inside, Laughing Cow, those YOLKS (now that I’m not pregnant anymore, I’m so ready to eat all the soft-cooked yolks!!!) these absolutely stunning photos (as always), and that B3 graphic! Thank you for always telling it like it is, blowing my mind with your creativity, and your wonderful friendship, Mandy! This means so much.

  • Charlie Kwok

    November 14, 2016 at 10:49 PM Reply

    Aww Mandy! It’s so sweet of you to have written this recipe :)

    I’m obviously not at the stage in life to have kids, but I’m all too sure you’ll make a fabulous parent, whatever the species is.

  • Karen

    November 15, 2016 at 10:00 PM Reply

    Wow, my partner and I are totally in the same boat! Love this post. You nailed it.

  • Grace

    February 10, 2017 at 4:24 AM Reply

    Long time reader, first time commentor :D

    I had to stop by and say I loved your interview on Marta’s blog, especially your answer: “The most awesome thing about Hong Kong is that it’s not China, politically and culturally. I know it’s a personal opinion that most Hong kongers who love hk will disagree with, but this is a city that I appreciate only through a certain perspective.”

    You articulated everything I love about HK. Thank you for that and for the amazing recipes.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      February 10, 2017 at 12:17 PM Reply

      Grace, haha thanks :) I’m afraid HK is becoming more and more China (politically) though. Anyways, thank you back!

  • O du viet nhat

    April 2, 2017 at 11:49 AM Reply

    thanks for sharing

  • vé máy bay

    July 19, 2017 at 3:55 PM Reply

    you’ve described the early days so perfectly. I’m already nostalgic for this time, sleep deprivation and all, and it’s not even over yet. (Also, the tiny baby snores made me lol — YES.) I’m also SO obsessed with the idea of rice cooker oats! I need to try this ASAP. I’ve been having oatmeal every morning with bananas, but it’s nowhere near as wonderful as oatmeal with bruleed bananas (!) and that luscious vanilla bean cream. Thank you so much for being a part of this! It really means the world.

  • Maria A.

    September 20, 2018 at 1:44 AM Reply

    What a gorgeous presentation! A symphony of tastes, and luscious burnt butter hollandaise sauce! Great recipe for a special intimate catered event!

  • Da Cipriano

    June 15, 2020 at 6:21 PM Reply

    Incredibly great post and the pictures are fantastic. Congratulations. Keep up the good work. Greetings from Switzerland

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