“More is More” Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

It’s been a while. At the risk of sounding delightfully cheesy, I’m just going to come right out and tell you why I’ve been away…I found the love of my life, and I married him in the fall. Not to distract from the food, but this is the kind of love that I want to shout from the rooftops every single day. He fills me to bursting with the most incredible joy…and he’s the best sous chef I’ve ever had.

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Now, I’ve made this recipe probably five or six times for him and some friends (with rave reviews), but the time I normally set aside to write was taken up by wedding planning and kitchen remodeling. Those are both wrapped up, so here I am, ready to reset and finally tell to you about this “more is more” recipe I created almost a year ago.

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When I came up with this dish, I was scouring the web for various loaded/smothered/covered sweet potato fries recipes and all that popped up were Mexican/California style fries with black beans, jalapeño, and sour cream. While that’s a pretty strong offering, I was hankering for something with a Mediterranean twist. The tahini sauce and fried egg components came to me first, and the rest fell into place like dominoes straight into my belly.

Ready? Gird your loins…you’re gonna …keep reading!

Avocado Cilantro Dip

You guys, I hosted a clothing swap with a bunch of my girlfriends, and I highly recommend you do the same.

I cleaned out everything – my closet, under my bed, my drawers, and my jewelry box! It was an unintentional spring cleaning, but regardless, it was BIG (7 bags stuffed to the brim!), and it feels so liberating.

healthy avocado dip

Granted, it’s an arduous process pulling everything out, evaluating an item’s current fashion status, trying it on, and finally, weighing the likelihood of how often you’ll sport your clothes that have fallen out of favor, but the de-cluttering is worth the work.

It’s especially worth it when it comes with a party and gazpacho, cherry gin sours, and avocado cilantro dip. For the cherry gin sour, just replace the simple syrup with cherry syrup, and follow the rest of the recipe. To my gazpacho, I added three slices of good white country bread to the bowl first to let them soak in the tomato juice and vinegar to soften before blending.

Now for the avocado cilantro dip! …keep reading!

Honey Roasted Cocoa Chili Pecans

Sweet and spicy roasted nuts

Hello fellow fall-lovers, and welcome to the best time of year. A long, tomato and cocktail-filled summer is now behind us, and we can greet autumn with a warm scarf, warmly spiced sweets, a hot cup of coffee, and a comforting bowl of carrot ginger soup.

In an wonderfully cliché manner, I wandered around Berkeley neighborhoods with my man yesterday – hot coffee in hand and crunchable golden leaves galore – and I became giddy with the feeling that fall has finally arrived as I planned our evening menu of pumpkin leek soup with mustard croutons and roasted pumpkin seeds. The only things missing were a plaid flannel and boots. We may have also purchased decorative gourds and a pumpkin ale, and I may have required a cozy blanket while we enjoyed them out on the balcony. No shame – I want all the autumnal clichés! To round them out, we’re also having a pumpkin carving party soon.

Spiced Nuts Recipe

Another thing that I always associate with cooler weather is spiced nuts. My mom makes …keep reading!

Coconut Blueberry Pops with Lemon, Honey, & Thyme

You have popsicle molds, right?? If you don’t, you need to raid the summer sale section of the store today.

Everyone needs a cold, refreshing treat when it’s blazing hot outside, and easy homemade pops are clearly the way to go. Lately I’ve just been buying bags of frozen organic berries, blending them up, and mixing in a hint of sweetness and a fun add-in or two. One of my recent favorites is raspberries with lemon and a splash of cherry simple syrup (And if you’re willing to invest in a more involved pop, my Creamy Pistachio Cardamom Pops are off the hook.)

Coconut Blueberry Pops with Lemon, Honey, Thyme

Looking to mix it up, I tried a coconut milk-based pop with blueberries, and then I got a little crazy…hang with me for a minute. I added honey for sweetness, lemon zest for brightness amongst all the creaminess, and lastly, fresh thyme to mirror the lemoniness and add that earthy, herby note the way thyme does.

This one is a little on the adventurous side, but I think the combo is definitely worth a try. My professional taste-testers (*cough* boyfriend *cough* roommate) wanted to make sure Continue reading

Toasted Almond Any-way-you-like-it Granola

I changed my blog name, well, technically just translated it. What do you think? :)

Best granola recipe

In other news, I have a horrible kitchen secret.

I’ve probably confessed before, but I rarely follow a recipe. Only if it’s a Julia Child recipe or a complicated pastry will you find me double checking every line of measurements and instructions. Otherwise, I like to think of recipes more as guidelines – there to help you on your culinary adventure with tips on flavor and proportions. (Real talk, I even look at my own blog recipes when I want to whip those up again and occasionally stray.)

I just can’t be boxed in!

Recently my roommate was having a horrible string of bad granolas, so I decided that would be a perfect kitchen project. Added bonus? All granola recipes read “…or whatever dried fruit/nuts you want to substitute.” I still didn’t follow most of the rest of the recipe, but hey, I made some bomb granola.

Almond Granola

Only problem? My roommate requested …Keep reading!

Cheddar Biscuits

Biscuits. Cheddar biscuits.

Cheddar Biscuit Glory

I’ve been on a warpath lately – luckily for you (and my roommates) this warpath is filled with fierce love, cold butter, and lots of shredding on a quest for my perfect cheddar biscuit. Through all my baking adventures, my mom always says, “If you only master good bread and biscuits, you’re set. Everyone will love you.” When it comes to these biscuits, I think I’m well on my way. Man, I hope my future husband isn’t gluten intolerant. That would be a deal breaker huge hurdle. “No bourbon” would also be a problem, but I suppose I can always make an Old Fashioned for one.

Biscuits used to scare me. I don’t know why, but I think it had something to do with all the fuss over the size of the butter and the speed at which you incorporate it into the dry ingredients so your hot little hands don’t melt the dang butter. I’m here to tell you, don’t be a scaredy cat like me – jump in the biscuit dough, the butter’s fine! …or something like that.

Biscuit Dough

Fast to come together and no rest or rise time, biscuits are a dream bread. They successfully masquerade as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. Sweet or savory? It’s a choose your own adventure sort of bread once you’ve mastered the basics. My great aunt made a mean biscuit, but this recipe works as a great base biscuit (just leave out the cheddar…although that seems foolish).

If you have the same fear of

Continue reading

Mexican ChocoPOP

I love popcorn. It’s easy snacking; it’s light (except when it’s not); it’s a high-fiber dinner – no shame.

Mexican chocolate popcorn

I was the kid at the movie theater who made a B-line to the popcorn butter pump. I went all-in. My thought? More is more. It’s just so salty and, well, ultra-buttery. Y’all know that it’s really butter that makes the world go ‘round, right? When it comes to popcorn, it’s all about that lightweight crunch under the POP of flavor.

I really didn’t think I had that much to say about popcorn when I sat down to write this post, but now I’m analyzing how my popcorn love has gone through a few stages throughout my life. It started with the movie theater popcorn (which I still love, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like a special occasion these days). Then in college, I discovered the simplicity of popping popcorn kernels in a paper bag with just some salt. And now, I’ve discovered the beauty of stovetop popping with lots of fun flavors.

I really got into it initially with a nice drizzle of truffle oil and a healthy dash of salt, garlic powder, and paprika. I dabbled in some delicious kettle corn for the first time last year, and I just decided to try out other fun sweet combos.

Spicy Chocolate kettle corn

Enter Mexican Chocopop! Continue reading

Adult Grilled Cheese (aka: GetInMyBelly)

best grilled cheese

It’s a beautiful spring day – almost as if the sunshine knew I wanted to pretend it was summer for my big birthday brunch. As we pan down the banquet table overflowing with mimosas and bloody Marys, we catch only the most riveting tidbits of conversation…

“Full disclosure, if we’re going to keep bees in the future, I’ll need a super bee suit, ‘cause I’m allergic, but can it have a tear-away option? However attractive the originals are, they just seem so suffocating.”

“Oh yeah, you can save a gif as a photo to your phone and then text it.” (Just like your very own WhatShouldWeCallMe. Mind. Blown.)

Having fun with the photo app, Fat Booth: “Look, it’s fat Daniel!” to which Daniel responds, “Ah, Katie’s dream. Happy birthday, Katie!” (Basically my real reason for baking so much: the eternal goal to fatten up two of my best friends Daniel and Tim :)

lasagna grilled cheese

As you can tell, the day was filled with important agreements/realizations/dreams-come-true this past weekend. It was, however, also brought to my attention that this year will be the final year of the famed Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational. I’m sorry; I forgot to ask if you were sitting down for that terrible news.

This is truly an epic event for all ages. The glorious combination of beautiful Southern California with: Bread + Butter + Cheese = Victory. They give away samples of as much delicious grilled cheese as you can handle; you can compete – like I did, back in 2010; and you can enter the poetry contest, like my amazing brother did. An abridged version of his genius, award-winning craft:

There’s a fabulous feeling that’s sweeping the nation.
Now unleashed in our land is a cheese celebration.
From Burbank to Long Beach, from Carson to Venice,
Cheese is sweeping away every plague plight and menace.
Too long have we waited in anticipation
For buttered bread and cheddar salvation.
They’re gooey and grilled, they’re a melted delight
They’ve got my mouth drooling all day and all night.
There are sandwiches as fancy as a pair of Guccis
Crafted of Monterey, jack, even of bluecheese.
We’re starting a trend. We’re bringing cheese back.
It’s not just a snack; it’s a gruyere attack!

All of this is to say that I have an incredible grilled cheese for you this week! (And if you live anywhere near LA, you need to go to this event next month!)

Meg and I whipped up these bad boys for a small dinner party (of three – totally still a rockin’ party) with an infusion project happening while the onions caramelized.

three cheese grilled cheese

If you’ll recall, I love caramelized onions. On the list of foods that are a gift from God, they’re right up there with salted caramel and And what?!…find out after the jump.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

If only I lived in a place where the streets at Christmastime looked like they do in Germany or Strasbourg! Seriously, have you been there? I took a trip up to Strasbourg in December when I was living in France. It had just snowed, so the buildings along the river looked like gingerbread houses dusted with powdered sugar.

Strasbourg

Ornaments

Icicles hung beautifully from the roof; the city was twinkling with Christmas lights; the streets smelled of crisp pine. And then you walk through the Christmas markets – you feel like you’re IN a Christmas movie (my dream), and you get a big cup of mulled wine to warm you up while you peruse the wonderful ornaments and a hot pretzel to fill your belly.

…Don’t stop. Keep reading!

Cherry Cocoa Truffles

Cocoa Date Truffles

Let’s impress your friends and family this Christmas season! I think it’s really nice this time of year to bring homemade treats to a friend and have them sittin’ pretty in a bowl in your office or at home. I magically just happen to have a fantastic recipe for just such an occasion ;)

Vegan truffles

This time of year is tricky to please everyone you know – especially now that it seems every other person you know is gluten-free or vegan, and of course there’s the “watching-my-holiday-waistline” ones who shy away from my decadent desserts…come on! Why not?! It’s CHRISTMAS! (Don’ worry, those recipes are still to come, like these perfect Christmas cookies :) But… …Don’t stop now! Keep reading.