The Bay Area was scorching hot this week. And by scorching hot, I mean it was barely hot at all, but, just as LA is ill-equipped to handle a little drizzle, The Bay Area melts with just a tiny spike above our usual year-round 60-70ºF temperatures. Without AC, the coolest part of our house was 85ºF inside! As a girl who grew up in 100º+ hot hot summers, I feel conflicted about complaining. I mean, we made all of our friends hang out in 110ºF direct sunlight to watch us get married last June for cryin’ out loud. But guys, last week was a sauna – my clothes felt like they were melting off of me. All I wanted to do was sprawl out on the cold hardwood floor with the cats who also had the exact same global warming survival plan. I wanted to smear ice cream on my face and jump into a pool filled with this refreshingly chilled watermelon agua fresca. That, or drink it.
Guilt-free shrimp and veggie fettuccine with cauliflower alfredo
Raise your hand if your favorite pasta dish as a child was creamy fettuccine alfredo. Did your house exclusively refer to fettucine alfredo as “Sarah’s favorite pasta” like mine? I’d order it every time I found it featured on a dinner menu and I’d throw in some shrimp for good measure. And when I grew up a bit, things got fancier and I’d toss a pre-made jar of alfredo sauce with some boxed fettuccine for a comforting meal. What with that and the boxes of fruit roll ups and otter pops I consumed, if I still ate the way I wanted to eat as a child (and a college student, for that matter), I’d most definitely have all sorts of health problems. I distinctly remember setting out to make fettuccine alfredo from scratch and realizing it was filled with loads of butter, cream, and parmesan cheese. That’s when alfredo and I broke up. We’ve rekindled our relationship today with this recipe that allows you to indulge in your favorite creamy pasta without the associated guilt and hours of exercise to work it off. I bring you a new family staple: guilt-free shrimp and veggie fettuccine with cauliflower alfredo.
Zucchini arepas: zucchini corn cakes with cheese, salsa, and guacamole
When I first when off to college, I’d regularly call my mom from the grocery store to ask, “in what part of the store would I find _____ ?” Anything from salsa to olives to pizza sauce. For me, this was the adult manifestation of watching my parents drive from one place to the next without a map; how on earth did my mom have such an accurate road map of the grocery aisles on the top of her head?! Compare this to the current me who maximizes my time by writing my shopping list in order of each item’s shelf location. Back then though, I could barely find everything on my shopping list. It was in my days of not knowing my way around a grocery store that I failed my mission to find what my friend’s mom told me was, “special corn flour for arepas.” I needed to satisfy a seriously wicked craving for Venezuelan arepas. Just imagine: if I had succeed in finding what I thought was the unicorn of flours, I may have come up with these crispy zucchini corn cakes much sooner in life.
Gluten-free deep chocolate layer cake
I got caught in the middle of the top-secret of all surprises, wearing a pink leopard print apron with a chocolate covered spatula in hand. There are surprises that if discovered before their time maybe bum the surprise-giver out for a split second, but really aren’t that big of a deal. Like when you plan a birthday breakfast in bed, but your spouse wakes up early and finds you mixing a bowlful of eggs in your jammies. You easily just snap with a smile, “get back to bed!” and continue whisking. Then there are those top-secret surprises that are a really really big deal and your brother would probably kill you if you spoiled it. Like when he plans a surprise proposal to his girlfriend (Alexis) of 5 years on a hike with her best friend, followed by a surprise engagement barbecue with family and close friends. And there you are, baking a two-tiered deep chocolate layer cake in your parents’ kitchen on a Friday night for the engagement barbecue the next afternoon when your mom texts you, “Alexis is bringing me home from dinner, HIDE ALL EVIDENCE!”
Salted honey lavender caramels
My actions are speaking louder than words right now, but please hear me out. I’ve kept these creamy salted honey lavender caramels from you out of shame and fear of judgement; I’ve got an arsenal of sweets to paste up here over the next couple of weeks. I need you to know though that I don’t just sit at home eating entire batches of gluten-free carrot cupcakes and sheets of salted honey lavender caramels all by myself while binge watching Scandal. I’d certainly like to, but that’s not what’s going on behind the scenes here. The sweets part, the binge-watching is a whole different story. We’ve actually been keeping up with our weekly meal planning and eating lots of quick healthy dinners. Straight from stove to plate to belly without stopping to snap a picture or keep track of ingredients.
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.
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.
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.