pepperoni pizza eggrolls (my 100th post!)

Hooray! Today I bring to you my 100th blog post, all wrapped up in shiny paper and a pretty bow.

Oh, what? Sorry about those drips of marinara sauce… and the parmesan cheese. Wrapping pepperoni pizza eggrolls is a messy task!

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s’mores ice cream sandwiches (you’re killing me, smalls!)

What comes to mind when you think of your childhood summers? Maybe going swimming with your friends, staying up late (cause hey, school’s out!), barbecues, family trips to the beach? I grew up in rural southern Arizona so I didn’t have a lot of options as a kid when it came to fun summer activities. Most often, I think of summers depicted in movies, and no movie better captured that ideal childhood summer than The Sandlot.

How could you have a better summer than these kids? New friends, plenty of baseball, chasing your crush, fireworks on the 4th of July and neighborhood block parties with the smell of grilled hot dogs in the air — summertime perfection. The Sandlot was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I still love it 21 years after it came out. It’s a classic summertime movie!

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golden roasted cauliflower with tahini + fried onions

If you’re not from Arizona (or southern California, for that matter), then you probably haven’t been to a lovely little restaurant called Pita Jungle. For the uninitiated, Pita Jungle serves all manner of Mediterranean-inspired dishes from cilantro-jalapeno hummus to chicken shawarma sandwiches wrapped in lavosh bread. It’s a veggie-heavy menu, and they also have a lot of items that can be modified to vegan, which is great for people like my vegan sister. 2014-06-17 17.39.50
My favorite item on the menu happens to be vegan as well, even if I’m not. (Hell, I had a double-double from In N Out for dinner last night.) It’s the caramelized cauliflower with tahini sauce, and it’s wonderful. Since the first time I tried it, I’ve been scheming how to recreate it at home, and I’m proud to say I’ve finally done it.

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sparkling cider floats with caramel sauce

Hello there, lovely readers! I apologize for my absence, life got a little hectic with the start of my new job. You forgive me, right? How about if I make you one of these sparkling cider floats? Psst… homemade caramel is also involved.

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It’s about this time of year that I start getting antsy for Fall weather. According to the calendar, we’ve still got almost a week left of Spring, but you wouldn’t know it here. Warm mornings give way to blazing hot days, and uncomfortably gross nights. It’s a paradise, I’ll tell you what. I’ve lived in AZ for my whole life and somehow, the summer heat still takes me by surprise. So I got to thinking — what could I create that would combine the refreshing qualities of summertime with the warm, sweet, crisp flavors of Fall? Sparkling cider floats to the rescue!

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It’s a strange thing to have legitimate free time! I’m still between jobs, but I have a promising lead at a favorite local spot, so I’m excited! Meanwhile, no longer doing the social media for UC has afforded me more time to focus on my own social media. That means a whole lot of instagrammin’! Continue reading

almond pavlova + new beginnings

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It’s a three day weekend! Hooray for Memorial Day, and the start of summer, and having something to celebrate. Will you have a slice of this yummy pavlova and celebrate with me?

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german chocolate loaf cake

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“Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.” – Lucas, Empire Records

I’m not sure what gave me the idea for this cake. The ease of baking a cake in a loaf pan versus two round layers? The fact that I love coconut and chocolate, so why not combine them into one tasty pile of kickass glory? Who knows.

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mexican pizza = 90s flashback!

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As a kid growing up in the 90s, there was no better night for TV-watching than Friday night. How could you beat ABC’s TGIF lineup of Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step By Step and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper?! Perfect Strangers was included in there somewhere. I always had a soft spot for poor clueless Balki.

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cobb salad sandwiches with chicken, bacon + hard-boiled egg


This sandwich was never supposed to happen.

My initial goal for this recipe was to make Cobb salad stacks à la the wedge salad stacks in Deb’s Smitten Kitchen cookbook. It’s a wonderful, smart way to make a wedge salad, and I thought I could employ the same techniques when making a Cobb salad. I found out a fun fact along the way: Romaine lettuce doesn’t really like being sliced into rounds. Since the leaves aren’t as large as ones on a head of iceberg lettuce, the rounds just sort of fell apart. So, that idea was scrapped.

You know what I like better than salads, anyway? Sandwiches.

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¡cinco de mayo!

If you’re not from Mexico or the US southwest, chances are you don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. If you do, it’s a great reason to celebrate and have a party! Now’s the time to roll out your best margarita recipe, and definitely your favorite salsa. Looking for a few more ideas? I’ve got you covered.

You gotta have drinks at your Cinco de Mayo parties. My honeyed peach aguas frescas or cherry-lime aguas frescas are light and fruity kid-friendly drinks that’ll go well with any spread of party food. Want something a little more adult? Try this pineapple-jalapeño sparking soda! It’s fruity and it’s got a pretty good amount of heat. Add some tequila, what will it hurt?

Need some snacky things to serve to your party guests? Some mini taco salad cups should fit the bill. They’re small, but super full of flavor! If taco night was your favorite night as a kid, you’ll devour these little guys.

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For a main course, make a whole pile of these chicken + potato empanadas. What’s better than flaky crust full of juicy chicken, potatoes, cheddar, green chiles and red bell pepper? Not a whole heck of a lot. If a salad is more your jam, make a big bowl of this tex-mex salad with chicken, roasted corn, pumpkin seeds, black beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips and a creamy salsa dressing over fresh romaine lettuce. Your more health-conscious friends will thank you! If healthy isn’t necessarily on your radar, then these rich and tasty roasted carnitas sandwiches should make you all sorts of happy. Slow-roasted pork is crisped up under the broiler and served on fluffy rolls with quick pickled red onions, sweet pineapple, avocado, smashed black beans and a spicy, creamy sauce. Hopefully you’ll do the right thing and serve those sandwiches with a big helping of tortilla chips. It’s just the right thing to do.

Want some dessert after all that food and drink? Pumpkin empanadas, with a sweet and spicy filling packed inside a flaky crust, should serve you well.

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All these recipes should make for quite the delicious party. Whatever you decide to serve, keep it a happy and safe celebration!