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.
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.
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. Continue Reading