Favorite Gluten-free Chocolate Cake with Hibiscus Frosting

date01.25.17

The BEST gluten-free chocolate cake topped with naturally pink ombre hibiscus cream cheese frosting. Light and tender cake with a moist crumb and rich dark chocolate notes that balance with tart hibiscus cream cheese frosting.

The BEST Gluten-free Chocolate Cake with Ombre Hibiscus Cream Cheese Frosting

At this time last year, I was approximately 1 billion pounds heavier, awaiting the arrival of #cheesebabygirl. We’d just thrown one last “you probably won’t see us for a while” pre-baby dessert shindig (we were right). I spent an entire day baking for it and my feet were trying to quit my body. They were going on strike, swelling up like balloons, and throwing in the towel along with any hopes of homemade Valentine’s Day treats. With Zoella’s February 7th arrival and our unexpected week-long hospital stay, our Valentine’s Day dessert was a heart-shaped Whole Foods cheesecake shared over hospital trays with visiting friends and a snuggly soft baby that smelled like fresh laundry.

I’m making up for no homemade treats last year by getting a head start with this (naturally) ultra-pink ombre layer cake. I’ve waited months for the perfect occasion to share this chocolate cake – this is not any ol’ chocolate cake. The base is my absolute favorite chocolate cake EVER. I considered going as far as titling it “the best gluten-free chocolate cake in all the land,” but decided to tone down my intensity. But, in my not so humble opinion, it is just that.

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Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Falafel Salad Bowls with Pickled Beets

date01.17.17

Crispy gluten-free chickpea and butternut squash falafels on a bed of quinoa and arugula with an assortment of flavor-packed salad toppings: Quick-pickled beets, crispy fried shallots, crumbled feta, roasted peanuts, and a drizzle of tahini dressing.

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Falafel Salad Bowls with Pickled Beets

Zoella has suddenly discovered that she has free will. Namely that she can say no by shaking her head. Doesn’t she know her mama is the master of strong will though? Game on, Baby Z. My first word was no. Hers was cat. Who do you think will win?

On Monday Zoella LOVED butternut squash falafel. On Tuesday, she decided to test that new found free-will in the face of homemade falafel. She pursed her lips tight with a vigorous “no” head shake, eventually indicating with grabby fingers that she instead wanted to eat what I was eating (go figure).

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White Chocolate Cardamom Blondies with Grapefruit Frosting (gluten-free)

date01.10.17

White chocolate cardamom blondies flecked with brown butter and slathered with tart grapefruit cream cheese frosting. And sprinkles, of course.

White Chocolate Cardamom Blondies with Grapefruit Frosting (gluten-free)

Back when I detested all things chocolate (I know), I used to tell people that my favorite cookie was “my mom’s chocolate chip cookies, but without the chocolate chips.” What is that then? A cookie? My favorite cookie is just cookies. Crispy-edged, ultra chewy, slightly under-baked cookies made up of about 99.9% with brown sugar and allofthebutter (exaggeration) that smack of butterscotch.

These white chocolate cardamom blondies remind me of my mom’s just cookies in flavor and texture except spiked with cardamom and studded with blissful pockets of pure buttery sweet vanilla bean white chocolate. Then I slathered the whole thing with citrusy grapefruit cream cheese frosting because: citrus season! And sprinkles!

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Cardamom Granola Yogurt Breakfast Bowls

date01.05.17

Butternut Squash and Granola Yogurt Breakfast Bowls

I hate mornings. I’ve always hated mornings. I’m cut from the night-owl cloth and, as someone who doesn’t drink coffee, what could possibly drag me out of bed in the AM? In high school, my mom would start the shower then wake me by telling me I was wasting water by staying in bed (it worked…mostly) (sorry, California). Even now with my extra adorable 7:30am baby alarm clock, I am very not fond of mornings. BUT!! 2017 ushered in two major developments that are making mornings slightly more tolerable.

First: I’ve committed myself to weekly breakfast meal prep, starting with these roasted butternut squash and cardamom granola yogurt breakfast bowls topped with fresh mint. With all the pieces made in advance, I can toss this elegant morning bowl together in about 5 seconds. This is key because Zoella has yet to learn patience when it comes to meal time, which means if I don’t have something ready to go, I’m having the uneaten half of her banana as my breakfast.

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Asiago Seed and Cheese Crisps

date12.30.16

Asiago Seed & Cheese Crisps

My girl Carla and I have fallen into a standing weekly boba & pupusas lunch date. We didn’t set out to turn it into a habit, but last month, the waiter at the pupuseria came up to our table and grinned, “the regular?” That’s when we realized what we’d become. In all fairness, we also bring along (in my very biased opinion) the cutest baby ever who doles out smiles like she’s made of them, so we’re probably not that hard to forget. Also, you should see this cheese baby take down a pupusa.

If you’ve never had a pupusa before, it’s basically a thick handmade corn tortilla dough filled with cheese, beans, meat, or veggies, and cooked on a griddle. The more cheese that has seeped out of the pupusa to get extra crispy on the edges, the better. We can all agree that there’s not much better than burnt crispy cheese, right?

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Matcha Black Sesame Nougat Chews

date12.21.16

DIY Gift: Matcha Black Sesame Nougat Chews

I wish I could spend an entire day making batch after batch of these matcha black sesame nougat chews so I could send you each a bag of them. What I really wish is that you all had food printers and could just print out a batch of these nougat chews and then pretend I made them for you.

I just really want you to have these in your life as a thank you for all of your support – your comments, your notes, your suggestions, and even just being here, reading. You are the reason I’ve been able to have a (super awesome) career while also spending this first precious year with my babe (Also, I’m suddenly aware that referring to her as “my daughter” makes me feel like she’s a KID and not a baby anymore – what’s that about?).

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Matcha Marshmallows with Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa

date12.20.16

Matcha Marshmallows with Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa

Just in time for the holidays, it’s finally getting cold enough over here that I’m shivering through each spoonful of ice cream as I’m bundled up under blankets (dessert dedication). Without central heat, it’s (debatably) too cold for ice cream right now though (Oh hi over there with your -18°F windchill, Midwest/East Coast friends!). In times like these, I’ll happily swap out my tub of ice cream for homemade marshmallows swimming in a steamy mug of hot cocoa. Mittens optional.

Alanna and I are sharing an festive spin on hot cocoa + marshmallows that also happens to make an easy DIY gift (act surprised, friends!). We’ve dunked my matcha marshmallow Christmas trees in her creamy fresh mint hot cocoa and it’s holiday heaven.

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Peppermint Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

date12.12.16

Flourless Peppermint Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

Do you ever completely brushed off very obvious warning signs for trouble, insisting “it’ll be fine” but then it’s definitely not fine? We’ve all ignored the weather channel’s rain prediction, leaving the umbrella and sensible shoes behind because it looked SO IMPOSSIBLY SUNNY, right?

Halfway through making a test batch of these peppermint chocolate marshmallow cookies, I did just that. It was past midnight (when one does test baking, obviously) and I was spent. I carelessly dumped the powdered sugar into the mixer only to watch the whipped egg whites deflate. Their airy structure collapsed on itself and ignored it. Convinced it wouldn’t really matter (but mostly lacking the patience to re-whip egg whites) I charged ahead defiantly.

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Maple Harissa Sweet Potato Gratin

date12.05.16

Maple Harissa Sweet Potato Gratin with Almond Dukkah

I keep meeting people who insist they don’t really like sweet potatoes. And by people, I mean my husband. This maple harissa sweet potato gratin topped with almond dukkah is for all those bah humbug naysayers. Here, the sweetness from red garnet “yams” is subdued with hot chili pepper paste (harissa) and topped with savory roasted almonds and spice seeds (dukkah). I’ve teamed up with got milk? to elevate your traditional sweet potato casserole with a whole host of new flavors and a bit of heat. Heat that’s perfectly tamed with a glass of milk.

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