Gluten-free carrot cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting



My college boyfriend thought I was a terrible cook. I was offended, and the fact that he explicitly told me so was a pretty clear sign there were better fish in the sea. To his credit though, he was probably right. One of my $1.50 gourmet dinner specialties in college was 35-cent top ramen noodles – replace the seasoning packet with mushrooms, chicken, and snap peas sautéed in soy sauce. I definitely never made anything as fancy as gluten-free carrot cupcakes with honey cream cheese frosting.

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DIY Bacon gifts: bacon jam, bacon salt, and bacon candy



Back in January, my friend Tina kicked off the new year with a resolution about healthy eating. I kicked it off by infusing bacon into everything. And then waited 4 months to tell you about it – until it was safe to say that most New Year’s resolutions had been long forgotten and you’d be more than happy to sizzle up some bacon with me. For the record, Tina’s been begging for the bacon salt recipe since about 24 hours after she decided to eat healthy in the new year – the bacon lure has a strong grasp on that girl.

If you’ve got a bacon-lover in your life, this is DIY bacon gift box holds the trifecta for their hysteria. Bacon jam. Bacon salt. Bacon candy. All jarred with little DIY labels that you can print below. A just-because “I love you” gift or perhaps a mother’s day gift for your bacon-loving mama? How about a bacon-themed Easter basket? Or maybe you’re throwing a fancy dinner party and want to spread some bacon jam on toast (because toast is the new food craze). Whatever the reason, this post is for all you bacon fiends out there.

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Chipotle avocado spread



I’m coming clean about my most annoying habit, but making it up to you by offering up this spicy chipotle avocado spread. Smear a smidgen on your next sandwich and you’ll have to forgive me for the sins I’m about to own up to.

You know that person who sits next to you on the airplane and insists on having a conversation with you even though you’re clearly wearing headphones and reading a book? You have five hours on this cross-country flight, and you’re planning to spend at least four of them sleeping, but chatty Cathy over here won’t stop asking you questions. You probably hate that person. Well, guys, I’m here to admit that I’m one of those people. I can’t help but to chat up all kinds of people I meet – store clerks, waitresses, the lucky guy who blindly picked seat 26E and instantly put in his ear buds. As soon as I open my mouth, I know exactly what I’ve done.

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Strawberry fairy cakes with blueberry cream cheese frosting



There was a period of time in my life when I carried around a trunk full of hula hoops, balloon animals, and rainbow parachutes. You need to tie something down? Let me pull out my tug-of-war rope. And just in case you’re ever in a pinch, a parachute will also work to strap something to the roof of your car. When I’d open my trunk in public, passersby would always question the 10+ stack of hula hoops that came tumbling out. I like carrying around a suitcase full of fun as much as the next person, but these toys were all work related. While some people waited tables, my college job was as a children’s entertainer in the greater Los Angeles area. These strawberry fairy cakes with blueberry cream cheese frosting are a nod to my most enchanting job to date.

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Recipe Rewind: Butternut squash soup with parmesan crisps



Recipe Rewind March 25, 2014: As my regular readers know, during the week I shop and plan meals as though the two of us were a family of four. With this strategy, we can have piping hot leftovers for lunch the next day without any extra cooking effort. This butternut squash soup seems to fit this bill because it easily makes large batches that serve many. Perfect. Except for the fact that Lucas complains about bringing soup for lunch; not that he has a thing against soup – I’m pretty confident he’s a big soup fan – he just prefers to toss his lunch tupperware in his backpack and not worry about the damage a 1½ hour commute will do to it.

I realize we could pack the soup in a vacuum-insulated container, but I don’t have one large enough to hold the amount of soup this marathon-training boy consumes. Stop giving me that look. Ironically, now that Lucas has joined a start-up in the to-go lunch container industry, he’s working from home most days of the week, which means he can easily heat up a bowl of butternut squash soup without worrying about it spilling all over important crumpled up papers in the bottom of his backpack.

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Sun-dried tomato, basil, and mozzarella turkey meatballs



Have you spent a Friday night rolling a couple dozen miniature meatballs? While preparing 10 different healthy meals for the kids lunch box photo shoot for Lucas’s new start-up, I did just that. I can now add “lunch box food stylist” to my resume. Marble-sized food stylist to be exact – I can confidently say that I’ve got the skills needed to make meatballs the size of both small marbles and bigger shooter marbles. Most notably, nimble fingers. For the shoot, I made the tiniest ittiest bittiest batch of a scaled-down version of these sun-dried tomato, basil, and mozzarella turkey meatballs. Then I ate them for lunch when we were done taking their picture. Duh.

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Blueberry Nutella cream pie



I had nightmares last night and I’m pretty sure it’s because I went to bed feeling super guilty about not baking a pie for pi day. A Ph.D. candidate in math education with a food blog and I had made no concrete plans for pie on 3/14. In fact, in the past 7 years I’ve been in math education, I’ve never baked a pie on pi day. The guilt runs deep. Deep enough to cause nightmares that compel a me to scramble together this last-minute almost-no-bake blueberry Nutella cream pie.

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Brown butter sun-dried tomato marinara



When I think about my mom’s home cooking, spaghetti sends a wave of nostalgia. My mom makes chunky spaghetti sauce stuffed with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and ground beef. And now I crave it when I need a mom hug and she’s not nearby to give one. It wasn’t always that way though…

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