Lemon meringue s’mores with shortbread cookies

date09.30.14

Lemon Meringue Smores

The open call for meyer lemon poachers still stands. No one has yet taken me up on the offer…except for the opossums who keep leaving mangled up lemons in the middle of our weed garden. I’m here to tempt you to come collect a basket of lemons by pulling out the blow torch to make these lemon meringue s’mores. Note: my blow torch has a holster so I look pretty rad.

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Homemade lemon meringue marshmallows

date09.23.14

Lemon Meringue Marshmallows

When we moved into this house in March of last year, we discovered a blooming meyer lemon tree in the backyard. Without so much as a wave hello to the tree, it produced ripe fruit nearly 8 months of the year, starting as soon as we moved in. An impressive “welcome to the neighborhood” treat. This year, California produce seem to have gotten a bit confused. Maybe it was payback for my social neglect, but more likely the tree’s growth stunted from the lack of water this season.

Our pear tree should just now be getting ready to ripen in time for November, but after flowering this June, it dropped all of its fruit and now sits bare in the backyard. There might be a Little Red Hen analogy here. I should have shown my trees a bit more love.

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Cherry Garcia cupcakes: Chocolate chip cupcakes with cherry frosting {gluten-free}

date09.20.14

Cherry Garcia Cupcakes

Before you start screaming that I’m a month late and it’s not cherry season anymore, just hear me out. Rather than juicy summer berries, these cupcakes get their tart cherry flavor from freeze-dried cherries folded into the frosting – available all year round! I picked up this freeze-dried berry frosting trick from my friend Maryanne (The Little Epicurean) – it’s her smart way of infusing intense berry flavor into frosting without ending up with drippy soft icing that won’t hold its shape.

(At the end of this post, sign up to win a prize pack of these dainty decorative cupcake liners!)

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Double mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches

date09.17.14

Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches

My Nana taught me many important life lessons. For starters, she made sure I knew how to eat popcorn politely – “one piece of popcorn at a time [...will keep you from looking like a fool when you drop half a handful down your shirt while shoveling it in your face].” (My husband is still trying to teach me that lesson). She showed me how to turn miniature scraps of calico fabric into a patchwork quilt, and when in doubt: just bake it and see what happens.

Arguably the most intentional and influential lesson of all: she conditioned me to call her whenever I pass an Alaska license plate on the road.

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Caprese fettuccine with Italian chicken sausage

date09.10.14

Caprese Fettuccine

This wasn’t supposed to be today. No – today was supposed to be a two-part dessert to use up our fruiting meyer lemon tree. Then sometimes things just happen. Things like your fall wardrobe barely fitting coupled with the realization that the last three recipes you’ve shared were desserts. And as you photograph ice cream sandwiches and cupcakes,  you start to believe it’s possible you’ve only eaten sweets for a month straight.

While it may seem I survive on sugar and fruit – and that was probably true for most of high school – I promise that’s not what’s going on here. We eat cheese too. Buttery melt-in-your mouth burrata cheese dotted over caprese fettuccine with roasted heirloom tomatoes, spiced Italian chicken sausage, and a bundle of wilted spinach tossed in.

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Sweet and spicy curry cracker jack

date09.04.14

Spicy Curry Cracker Jack

We’ve resorted to elementary school tactics over here. Thanks to the brilliant idea of my friend Hillary, I now am on a rigid star sticker system. Hillary, who is also in throes of finishing her dissertation, started studying her study habits (obviously) and made the observation that a graduate student spends 8+ hours a day trying to write her dissertation, only to get 1 real hour of work done and 7 solid hours of procrastination (thanks for supporting my tenacious lollygagging, The Oatmeal). Hillary reasoned that if she instead works a really productive uninterrupted three hours each morning, she’d actually get more done.

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Roasted peaches and cream popsicles

date08.31.14

Roasted Peaches & Cream Popsicles

Over Labor Day weekend in my hometown, it’s customary to throw on a bikini and float down the Sacramento River on inner tubes rented from the liquor store. Others head up to Lake Almanor to soak up their final summer tan (or in my case, cherry red burn). The first weekend of September in Chico feels like a warm summer hug in a way we don’t normally get down in The Bay. By this time, the dog days of summer have come and gone, but the sultry heat still begs for a few drippy peaches and cream popsicles to cool you down.

I’m neither of these places this weekend. With Lucas in China (AGAIN!) and my mom texting me picture updates of the family card game score sheet from up at their peak-of-the-lake cabin, I’m home with the kitties, cooling off the house with the screen door. Summer is finally creeping its way in, and I’m sitting on the couch wearing less clothes than normal eating three popsicles a day. Right when school starts back, summer grabs on hard to lure me back in with a slightly uncomfortable bear hug.

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Tropical coconut mango chia pudding

date08.25.14

Mango Chia Pudding

I’ve got a case of the Mondays. This recipe comes to you from our bazillion year old laptop that warns me that the startup disk is full when I try to save something and has a noticeable ding just below the keyboard from that time the corner of my iPhone 3 dove into my once-brand new computer (yes, iPhone 3 – that’s how old this computer is). The heavy aluminum dinosaur came out of retirement while my younger, slimmer, faster Macbook Pro got shipped off to the doctor first thing this morning. Sniff Sniff.

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