potato salad with chives + crispy bacon

For the past 10,866 days of my life, there was one thing I’d never done. It’s something that lots of other people have done, and I can’t believe it took me so long to discover the joys of this particular activity.

Are you ready?

I ate a potato salad that didn’t include mayonnaise.

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a salad in san diego

It’s hard to believe that one week ago, I was getting on a plane to San Diego.

OceanAny time I’ve ever been to SD, it’s so hard to leave. I always end up going in the summertime, which of course makes it that much more difficult to leave the cool sea breezes in exchange for the never-ending drudgery of 100+ degree temps back in Phoenix.

While the weather was a nice bonus, the main goal of my trip was to visit with my dad. It had been over 2 years since I’d seen him last, and it was so great to catch up. He’s halfway through his chemo treatments and doing relatively well, all things considered! He’s had a few minor setbacks but so far it hasn’t been anything he can’t handle.

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tomato + ricotta tart

I’ve never had much luck with growing flowers or plants. Anything that requires regular watering or tending to, just isn’t for me. I think if plants could meow like cats do, then I might be reminded to water them on a regular basis. Instead, I notice them shriveled up and wilted after a week without water and I feel really guilty about it. I had moderate success this spring with a hanging basket of strawberries, but I’m convinced that was a fluke!

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panzanella salad with crispy parmesan

The salad so nice, I made it twice! Twice in the same week, that is. It’s amazingly simple, and perfect for summertime when you don’t want to turn on the oven very often, and when a big bowl full of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and good crusty bread soaked in vinaigrette is all you’d want to eat.

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summertime fried egg sandwich

What do you think of when you think of summertime?

When we were kids, summers to me and my sisters meant going to California to visit our dad, stepmom and stepsister. They lived in the southern California desert at the time, so summer days there could reach temperatures of 110 and above, easy. Not the nicest weather, but we had fun anyway. Sometimes during the day, we’d get lucky and our stepmom would take us to the waterpark in town while our dad was working. We didn’t venture outside much during the day though. Most of the time, we’d run outside at sundown to play hide and seek in the dark, rollerblade in circles on their concrete driveway, and occasionally we’d all go to the movies.

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vietnamese summer rolls with hoisin-peanut sauce

Recently I’ve begun a healthier eating plan and started a workout routine in an attempt to lose about 30 pounds before my 30th birthday, which is coming up in 6 months. I’ve had this recipe in my head for a while now, several years, in fact. I first had a Vietnamese-style summer roll at Pei Wei of all places, and I know that it’s not the most authentic of restaurants to experience a Vietnamese dish for the first time, but they had the basic elements down. I made a version of these at home about 7 years ago, but I have to say, these came out much more successfully!

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creamy mushroom soup

For a few years now, I’ve been a big fan of the blog Smitten Kitchen. Deb’s photos and food are absolutely stunning, and her posts are really engaging. What’s not to love?

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She originally posted this recipe for cream of mushroom soup way back in 2007. I’ve had it bookmarked for what seems like ages, and I finally got a chance to make it! I know right now in AZ it’s not exactly soup weather, but depending on where you are in the US, it still feels very much like winter. So, if you’re looking for something to take the chill away, or if you’re just looking for a simple and tasty lunch or dinner idea, you’ve come to the right place!

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brussels sprout salad with radish + feta

I live in a vegetable-challenged household. I do all the cooking, and my boyfriend and our roommate tend to be picky eaters, especially where certain vegetables are concerned. Sadly, this salad was not the thing that won them over to the world of green and crunchy veggies. I, on the other hand, loved it!

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creamy baked eggs

(Psst! The recipe for the real version from The Cup Cafe was posted online! Get it here!)

Recently, I was in Tucson visiting family. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend and we were trying to decide on a place to grab brunch. My sister is vegan so she recommended The Cup Cafe inside Hotel Congress, in downtown Tucson because they happen to have lots of vegan menu options. I had never been to The Cup, but always wanted to try their food. While looking over the menu, one dish stood out at me: Cast Iron Baked Eggs. I’d never before had baked eggs, and their version was decadent beyond belief: Two eggs baked in a little cast iron skillet, with leeks,¬†Gruyere¬†cheese, ham, and lots of cream. Vegan, this certainly was not! I practically inhaled the little skillet of eggs, even though they were piping hot from the oven. Any burns to the mouth were worth it for this super tasty dish.

Cast Iron Baked Eggs from the Cup Cafe in Tucson, AZ. Photo courtesy urbanspoon.com

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savory and sweet empanadas

Growing up in the southwest, I feel obligated to like empanadas. There’s just so many damn good variations of fillings one can cram into their flaky dough, that it’s almost impossible to not find something you’ll like.

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I know a lot of people who have really only eaten sweet dessert-type empanadas, pumpkin or pineapple being very common, but I’m partial to the savory fillings. I don’t know if I’d enjoy the common Spanish filling that includes green olives and hard-boiled eggs, but luckily making them in my own kitchen means I can fill them with whatever I’d like!

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