blue ribbon deep fried cheesecake

It’s that time of year again. Time to grab your friends, buy your tickets, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and scarf down some junk food. Yep, it’s time to go to the fair!

When it comes to fair food, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be deep fried. Coke, beer, butter, they’ve strangely done it all. Some things lend themselves better to a dip into hot oil, like Oreos or dill pickle chips. And cheesecake? You betcha!

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tart cherry crisp with oaty crumble topping

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It’s now September, which means that most kids have already started school. That means new backpacks, dreaded homework assignments, and the school cafeteria!

Wait… do kids still eat lunch in the cafeteria? The last time I did was probably in 1998, so things may have changed a bit! In the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you some childhood nostalgia in the form of re-vamped — and dare I say delicious? — recipes from those days of eating from plastic lunch trays with your friends by your side.

There were a few dishes served in my school’s cafeteria that I actually didn’t despise. Of course desserts are always high on the list (they’re also kinda hard to mess up), so it’s no wonder that the cherry crisp served at my school was actually top notch.

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chocolate-buttermint ice cream sandwiches

You know what the best kind of sandwich is? An ice cream sandwich. It’s only fitting that I’d end my National Sandwich Month series with one!

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I’ve never met someone who would turn down an ice cream sandwich, even those little rectangular storebought ones with the chocolate cookies that stick to your fingers. I’d be really suspicious of a person who’d turn down one of these, made with soft, crumbly chocolate cookies and smushed with Jeni Britton Bauer’s outstanding Savannah Buttermint ice cream!

I don’t know how long I’d been dreaming of having the Jeni’s Ice Cream cookbook. On occasion, when my money was burning a hole in my pocket, I’d pick up a pint of Jeni’s at my local AJ’s store. $12 a pint is not exactly a cheap snack, but ohhh, it was so worth it. But! — Now that I have this book in my possession, I no longer have to shell out tons of money for probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. I can make it at home now! It’s the perfect ice cream for sandwich-making.

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monte cristo sandwiches with dijon mustard + strawberry jam

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Until now, I’d never made a Monte Cristo sandwich before (the horror!).

The idea behind this sandwich is a relatively simple yet decadent one – I’m all for sandwiches that basically use french toast for the bread! – but for some reason, I’d not yet tackled one. They’re perfect for breakfast, even though my breakfast preferences tend toward something a little less rich, like veggie scrambles or a quick bowl of cereal. Monte Cristos are a bit involved, but the payoff is so worth it! You can change it up however you see fit, using sliced turkey and ham (or just using your favorite of the two), different types of cheese (I went with the classic, swiss!), and swapping the strawberry jam for blackberry, raspberry or maybe even apple butter. The powdered sugar dusting is an absolute must in my book, though, so don’t skip it!

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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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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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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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¡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. … Continue reading ¡cinco de mayo!

crispy chocolate peanut butter squares

When it comes to Easter candy, what’s your favorite? Are you a jellybean fanatic? Are marshmallow Peeps more your jam? What about those egg-shaped malted milk balls? 2014-03-24 18.09.13 For me, nothing even compares to the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. Can we just talk about how glorious these things are? It’s like a regular peanut butter cup on steroids. Everyone knows the best part of the peanut butter cup is the peanut butter filling. I don’t know anyone who likes that awful, waxy chocolate. The wonderful part of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg is the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. You get like three times the amount of peanut butter filling, and hardly any of the chocolate coating. My favorite way to eat them is to put them in the fridge first so they get nice and chilled. I first made these peanut butter squares at Christmas time cause I needed one more item to round out the jars of sweets that I was gifting to family. They came together in no time, and holy crap, were they ever good. They’re far superior to the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, and that’s saying a lot. Continue reading “crispy chocolate peanut butter squares”