Archives for September 2011

Friday Link Love: Comfort Food

Chicken and Dumplings

Sweet Kolaches

Candied Walnuts

This chicken…no words

A sandwich built for comfort

Clever take on chicken parm

Pumpkin + Cornbread…need I say more?

Pizza, Pizza!

Chili Goodness!

Speechless…

Happy Friday my loves!
So, as I mentioned last Friday I woke up really sick. I NEVER get sick, but when I do, it’s once a year, usually around the beginning of Fall when the pollen/crap in the air count is higher than the sky. Anyway, I was just waiting to get sick, and BAM, like a stealth bomber…I got hit! Luckily, I was only down for two days. If you know me I always have to be on the go, so being confined to my bed for more than two days is like an anxiety attack just waiting to happen. The only upside to being sick is that I definitely had the chance to catch up on my sleep, watch re-runs of Real Housewives of New Jersey online, and my favorite, live off of warm “sick foods.” I associate sick foods with anything comforting, usually a big bowl of chicken noodle soup, a stack of saltine crackers about a mile high, and nearly burnt toast with a heaping tablespoon…or two of butter. I was definitely in sick heaven. Also, big shout out to Jason’s Deli for making one of the best chicken noodle soups I have ever had in my life (the girl at the to-go register was staring at me like I was going to kill over…of course I didn’t help the situation when I stumbled in to Jason’s around 11 in my pajamas and holding my stomach like I was going to faint…what can I say? I was sick!). Moving on, there is a chill in the air this morning and I feel like Fall is actually on it’s way here to Texas, but then again I could definitely be wrong and next week we could be back in the 100’s with no rain, griddling eggs on the pavement. With Fall around the corner I am taking out my stretchy pants because to me Fall screams comfort food! I am telling you, there is nothing better than a bowl of chili on a cold Fall day while watching the leaves change colors. Well, maybe that’s just me, then again…chili in Texas is like the ultimate comfort food. For this Friday Link Love I would enjoy nothing more than to pay homage to, you guessed it, my Top Ten Comfort Food Dishes. Bring on the chili and pass the cornbread, I am ready! I hope y’all are too!

Top Ten Comfort Food Dishes:
1. Chicken and Dumplings by The Pioneer Woman: I know I said I love Chicken Noodle Soup, but Chicken and Dumplings is a close second for one of my fave comfort foods. My grandma pretty much makes the best Chicken and Dumplings and I know to request just that when I visit on a cold day. I mean c’mon who doesn’t love hearty chunks of stewed chicken in a slightly creamy broth with yummy veggies and o yea…did I mention the heaping lumps of homemade dumpling dough that simmers in the pot until moist perfection? Heaven! I really love this take on Chicken and Dumplings by The Pioneer Woman b/c she uses apple cider in the broth…how innovative, then again, she is Ree Drummond and she does no a thing or two about comfort food!
2. Kolaches by Homesick Texan: Okay, so I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I am part Czech…this comes from my mother’s side of the family. It’s not that I am biased or anything, but the reason that I never talk about Czech food is because I am not accustomed to having it as often, and have never really been taught how to make it. However, I would love to learn. Those Czech’s, like Italians, know how to throw and party and have a good time. My grandmother, or my Mawmaw, as I call her knows how to throw down a mean homemade po’boy sandwich. Now, that is not necessarily Czech food, but what I am saying is the woman has mad kitchen skills and one thing that we have always connected on is the topic of food. I enjoy listening to her stories about her mother, my great grandmother, who I hear was one bad mamma jamma in the kitchen, cooking up Czech specialities, and most notably kolache’s. Now, as a child I knew one kolache, and one kolache only, that was the Big Earl at Shipley Donut’s, which is basically an oversized piece of sausage with melted cheddar cheese that has been wrapped in a dense blanket of dough for the handheld taking. On occasion, this was my breakfast fuel as a child on my way to school. Don’t get me wrong, Shipley’s definitely knows how to make some pretty fantastic kolaches, but nobody, and I mean nobody, does kolache’s as well as the Czech’s do kolache’s. I may have spoken before about my favorite place to get kolache’s in Texas, it’s this place called Hruska’s Store and Kolache Bakery , located off of Hwy 71 in Ellinger, Tx. Now, i frequent this place on my travels back and forth to Houston to visit the fam. The first time I stopped at Hruska’s, it was to fill up the car with gas. Little did I know that I was about to walk into a convenience store with a full bakery that had been making up kolache’s since 1912. I love the scenery at Hruska’s, you walk into a convenience store with tables lined up against the windows where the local Knights of Columbus men sit and enjoy their hot coffee, fresh kolache, read the local newspaper, and occasionally heckle the old women behind the counter. You feel right at home as you walk into the store and are greeted by the cashiers with a good ole’ “Welcome, y’all!” Then, you stop, and take in a breath of those sweet smelling kolache’s that are baking off in the oven. Your plan may have been to stop off for some gas, a restroom break, and a soda, but instead, your feet take you over to the bakery counter, where you encounter huge glass cases filled with fresh baked kolache’s, some sweet, some savory. The best part is the old women behind the counter, who look like they have been baking up these homemade treats their entire lives. Seriously, I just think of these women as my other grandmothers, their hospitality is priceless, it’s always the same sweet, alluring tone of voice, “Can I get you something, dear?” and I reply, “Well, watcha got that’s fresh?” The first time I said this the lady helping me burst into laughter, and said “Hun, everything here is always made fresh.” So, naturally I took a dozen of my own mixture of kolache’s. My favorite are the sweet, fruit filled kolache’s, particularly the apple variety, but really, they are all just as good! Don’t forget to load up on some homemade cookies while you are at it (hey, you might need a little snack later, right?). Kolache’s are one of my favorite comfort foods, and a perfect breakfast treat for Fall that will warm your heart from the inside out! I cannot wait to learn how to make these!
3. Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts by 101 Cookbooks: Now, I know what you are thinking…what, walnuts as a comfort food? C’mon now, Chelsy, puh-lease! What you don’t know, is that any nut that is coated in a glaze of brown sugar and rosemary, tossed with sweet dried figs, and roasted in the oven can surely be one of the best comfort foods around. I love any type of candied nut…I still long for the days where I visited New York. I trotted up and down the Avenues in the below zero temperatures, constantly in search of something to keep me warm. Coffee was definitely not doing the trick, and then I stumbled on a quaint little street cart called “Nuts for Nuts” (little did I know, there were several of these carts in NYC). The sweet smell of roasted nuts was so alluring, it practically carried me over the cart where I was greeted by a nice Spanish speaking man. Anyway, between the language barrier I was able to sway him with my “just because I ain’t from New York doesn’t mean I don’t know how to lower the price” Southern charm and I walked away with two large bags of roasted honey glazed pecans, 2 for $5, thank you very much, that’s how we do it in Texas, y’all! Anyhoo, I add candied nuts to just about any salad that I make and I would suggest that you do the same, or you could just eat them alone. But however you do it, do it now!
4. Chicken al Mattone by The Parsley Thief: I don’t know about y’all, but I am a sucker for chicken, especially roasted chicken. There is nothing like coming home after a long day at work and being greeted by the smell of a roasted chicken coming from the oven. It is pure comfort, screaming for a side of mash potatoes just to make it that much better. But this chicken stands alone, no need for the mashed potatoes, me and this chicken will do just fine by ourselves thank you very much. All I need is a fork and knife and I am ready to go to town. This recipe for Chicken al Mattone translates into Chicken “under a brick,” which is the method that is used to cook the chicken. It can be done on the grill outside, or in a pan on the stove, but however it is done, this is the way I want my chicken from now on! So, moist, so fragrant, so buttery, OMG I can taste it already!
5. Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwiches by Ezra Pound Cake: So, I don’t care what anyone says, but I love goat cheese, it’s tangy, and creamy, and paired with warm, grilled vegetables, toasted ciabatta bread, and drizzled with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, you can’t go wrong! Mangia!
6. Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan by Espresso and Cream: This is for you Leslie! Chicken Parmesan is an awesome Italian chicken dish, that is usually coated in breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese/seasoning mixture and pan-fried. With each bite you should savour a slightly crisp exterior from the crust and a moist, succulent chicken. Top with a homemade tomato sauce and you have reached perfection. I like mine with extra Parmesan on top. This, however, is a perfect gluten-free rendition and I will be creating my own version soon enough.
7. Pumpkin Cornbread by Sugar Crafter: Pumpkin+Cornbread, I mean, How could you go wrong? The flavors of fall mixed with the traditional flavors of a dense southern cornbread, give me a hearty bowl of chili and I will go to town! This is the ultimate comfort food!
8. Chili Con Carne by Simply Recipes: Beans or no beans, that tis the question! However, you like your chili (I prefer mine w/out beans, that’s just how we do it down here in Texas y’all), there is nothing better than a hot bowl of steaming chili loaded with ground chuck, hearty tomatoes, fresh chili peppers, garlic, and maybe a slab of bacon (at least this recipe calls for it). Don’t forget the fixins’, shredded cheddar cheese, red onion, and a dollop of sour cream if you like. I eat mine with tortilla chips!
9. Tomato Basil Pizza by David Lebovitz: I always say the thinner the crust, the better! To me, pizza is one of the best comfort foods around, especially when it’s done right. I am not talking about Domino’s here people. It’s gotta be that perfect balance of thin crispy crust, fresh tangy tomato sauce, warm melted cheese, and seasoning that together makes for a rock star combination. David Lebovitz definitely knows how to achieve that perfect balance with this pizza recipe.
10. Stuffed Poblano’s by Martha Stewart: You know I couldn’t talk about comfort food without including a Mexican inspired dish. That just wouldn’t be right. Anyway, roasted poblano peppers +black beans+ cornmeal mixture+ roasted tomatoes+shredded Monterrey Jack cheese= you get the picture, right?

MANGIA!!!

When life hands you Lemons…make Meyer Lemon Bars!

The crust before being baked off in the oven

The topping…O Joy!

The finished product

Side profile view of the beautiful Meyer Lemon Bars!

Different angle…

And again…

SO.EPIC.

I.JUST.COULD.NOT.STOP.SNAPPING.

Don’t you just love my even slicing job?

Happy Tuesday everyone!
I hope that everyone is having a spectacular week so far. So, over the weekend I was pretty sick. Unfortunately, that meant no cooking or baking for me, or anyone else for that matter. The last thing I wanted to do was make myself more sick than I already was, or infect someone else. This has happened before where my cousin and I decided to make a batch of white chocolate peanut butter cookies when we were younger. Needless to say, we didn’t know much about cross contamination and didn’t think much about eating peanut butter off the knife and sticking it back in the jar. Next thing we knew, everyone in the house was sick…it was like the domino effect, we all dropped like flies…one.by.one. My uncle finally realized the source of the virus and ever since then, those cookies have been a death wish at family events! Well, not exactly, but my cousin Morgan (my partner in cookie crime) still cringes at the sight of them. Haha! Anyway, by Sunday I was feeling all better and surprisingly energetic, so I ventured to the grocery store. When I arrived at the supermarket, I let my imagination take me through the food aisles. Lately I have been craving sweets more than usual, so I knew I wanted to make dessert. I came across this lovely produce stand filled with Meyer lemons. They were bright yellow and just calling my name. So, I decided to make one of my faves, lemon bars. So, if you don’t know much about Meyer lemons, that’s okay, all you need to know is that they originate from China (big surprise), are often thought of as a cross between a mandarin and an orange, and they are less acidic and slightly sweeter than a regular lemon. When I got home I got into the kitchen and started baking up a storm. I had seen my sister that morning and wouldn’t you know? she called me an hour after I left her to tell me that she was sick. Go figure. I felt really bad that I could have possibly passed on my sickness to her, so what do I do? I make these lemon bars “Leslie friendly.” She adores lemon bars as much as I do and I know that making them gluten-free would absolutely make her day! I made an almond flour crust and OMG, this thing smelled absolutely divine in the oven…so buttery and fragrant, almost enough to make me eat the crust by itself before pouring the lemon mixture on top. These bars are outstanding, with a subtly sweet lemon flavor and a crunchy, nutty crumb crust that makes you savor each bite. I cannot wait to take some of them to my sister…hopefully, she will be feeling better by then. I hope you all enjoy this recipe and share it with someone you love, sick or not!

Meyer Lemon Bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
3 c. almond flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
2 Tbs. agave nectar
2 Tbs. Mexican vanilla extract

Topping:
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
6 large eggs
1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 Meyer lemons)

Instructions:

For the crust:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×11 rectangular baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine almond flour and salt using an electric mixer.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
4. Press the dough evenly into the prepared baking dish.
5. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until thoroughly golden.

For the topping:
1. While the crust bakes, prepare the topping.
2. Using a blender or food processor, combine the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, eggs, and lemon juice. Process on high until smooth.
3. Remove the crust from the oven. Pour the topping evenly over the hot crust.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the topping is golden.
5. Let the bars cool in the baking dish for 30 minutes, then refrigerate 2 hours to set.
6. Cut into bars and serve.

MANGIA!!!

Secret Recipe Club and duh…another Meatless Monday!!!

I could really just eat the batter by itself…

One little loaf

Do you like my hardwood floors? Only decent background I have…

Ready to be devoured…

Happy Monday all!
What better way to begin Monday than with a Secret Recipe Club reveal. I am telling you, I love being apart of this wonderful club. This is my third month of participation and I am on a roll! I must admit that I have been having withdrawals lately, surprisingly this withdrawal has to do with my former roommate, my little sis. As many of you know, my lil sis Leslie has celiac disease and has been a HUGE part of my inspiration for creating gluten-free dishes on my blog. Anyway, last Sunday morning I was super excited when Les and I met for a coffee/study date after not seeing each other for a week. She drives me insane, but I still love her and miss living with her (okay, maybe not the living part…but I still miss her). Anyway, I was so psyched I put on my best baking shoes and whipped up a gluten-free treat for her. Now, you know I can’t explain a recipe without a story, so here goes nothing. When Les and I were young we would travel with our parents to Phoenix to visit our relatives. Well, one thing I absolutely love about going on vacay with the fam is that you get to try new restaurants. One morning we all hopped into the car and headed to Mimi’s Cafe for breakfast. At the time, there were currently no locations in Texas so we had no idea what to expect. Now, I vaguely remembered what I ordered, maybe it was eggs and sausage or an omelet? who cares…all that was worth remembering was Mimi’s fabulous carrot raisin nut loaf that they brought out. It was served hot, chock full of raisins that burst in my mouth, colorful shredded carrot, and crunchy walnuts. I spread a bit of butter on that thing and went to town! Ever since then, Mimi’s has had me hooked, and lucky for me they have one in Austin, a hop, skip, and a jump away from my living quarters. Anyway, I realized how much I missed going to Mimi’s with my sis and how she absolutely loved the bread…when she could eat it. So, I decided to recreate the bread in gluten-free form. What what? I am one awesome sister because this bread was fabulous. At the same time I was browsing through the recipe index of my assigned secret blog this month, which I am happy to reveal is Lana from Never Enough Thyme . Coincidentally, Lana just so happened to have a recipe for Carrot-Raisin Muffins…you can imagine how ecstatic I was! A little background info. about Lana: she is a southern belle from Georgia who, like myself, comes from a big family. I think she knows a thing or two about cooking for a big group of people. I feel that we can relate to one another because her recipes, like mine, come from the heart. I LOVE cooking for my family and friends, not just for myself, I feel that I put so much passion and heart into everything I make. My goal is to have people experience that love in my dishes. I can say with certainty that my sis was definitely feeling the love in the gluten-free carrot-raisin walnut bread I made for her. She choked it down immediately, and didn’t cease to give me some feedback…saying she wished she had a bit of yogurt to spread on it. Regardless, she said she was in heaven! I felt so great! Now, Lana’s Carrot-Raisin Muffins are actually pretty dang healthy. She uses non-fat yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, and egg beaters in her batter, which if you ask me if pretty darn brave for a traditional southern cook. Usually, I would expect to see a stick of butter and a slab of bacon in any southern recipe…so, Go Lana, good for you! While the muffin sounded like a good idea, I just couldn’t help baking my bread off using my tiny loaf pans. They do a good job every time and I wanted to recreate that memory from Mimi’s that my sister and I shared. Go check out Lana’s blog because she has some excellent recipes, I am not even kidding…I cannot wait to try them all! On a last note, if you have a food blog and are interested in joining the SRC, you can sign up to participate here!

Gluten-Free Carrot-Raisin Walnut Bread:

Ingredients:
3 c. almond flour
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
5 large eggs
3 c. grated carrots
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Spray 4 mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Using an electric mixer, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and eggs.
4. Using the electric mixer, stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
5. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
8. Let the bread cool in the pans for 20-30 minutes, then serve.

To view more great recipes from this month’s Secret Recipe Club follow the links below!

MANGIA!!!

Friday Link Love: Sensational Salads

Mangia!

A bread salad? Yes please!

Sweet Peaches!

Love me some Egg Salad!

Salad with a kicked-up Asian flare!

A fantastic way to Eat Your Peas!

A salad fit for a Goddess!

Gobble Gobble Turkey Taco Salad!

I just can’t get enough of kale!

A true masterpiece! Bring on fall!

Happy Friday all,
I am sorry for the posting delay today, I usually post in the morning but I have been sick all day. I wrote the post earlier this week so all I had to do was post it today. This week I decided to change up the theme a bit for my Friday Link Love. I know last week’s Friday Link Love was all about cake and while I originally wanted to feature my fave pie recipes this week, I have veered off the path just a bit. Plus, I figured that too many posts about dessert would send you all on a sugar binge…or not? A while back I realized that I have a lack of salad recipes on my blog. What the? If you know me, you know this is a huge surprise because I am a huge salad freak! My favorite thing to do is go to Whole Foods for lunch and go crazy at the salad bar…I call it my salad beast because I basically fill up my container with greens, veggies, fruits, and anything else I can find until I check out at the register and realize I just spent $15!!! Damn that Whole Foods, they get me every time! Love em’ though! I wanted to feature a healthier twist on my blog today, so this Friday Link Love is all about salad, featuring my Top Ten Salad recipes. Now, don’t think these recipes are going to be your generic salad recipes with greens and dressing, and maybe a few croutons thrown on top. No, these salads are absolutely sensational…so get ready, because they are about to blow your mind!!! I hope these salad recipes will leave you with the impression that salads can really be creative. That being said, I encourage you to get into the kitchen and create the best salad that you can. What is your favorite salad? Let me know, I am always looking for new ideas!

Top Ten Salad Recipes:
1. Roasted Tomatoes and Basil Pesto Salad by Baked Bree: I love how this salad takes a clever spin on your traditional caprese salad. Bree combines cherry tomatoes and fresh chopped garlic, drizzles with olive oil, and bakes in the oven until roasted perfection. She pairs the roasted tomatoes with fresh sliced mozzarella cheese that has been dressed in a homemade basil pesto. This salad screams summer!!! I would serve this as an antipasto at an outdoor dinner party…or if you would rather curl up on the couch with it, go ahead!
2. Summer Panzanella by Smitten Kitchen: I know that panzanella is a traditional Italian salad, and being Italian-American you might think that I would have tried this. While this salad has always been on my to eat list, unfortunately I have never had the privilege of trying it. Basically, what this salad consists of is cubed bread (usually a French bread or dense bread that can soak up a tasty dressing), veggies, and a homemade vinaigrette. This salad uses whole-wheat bread that has been cut into 1-inch cubes and tossed with chunks of ripe tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, red onion, crisp cucumber, salty capers, fresh basil leaves, and drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt. The salad is then tossed together with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette! Absolutely delectable!
3. Grilled Peach Salad from Bev Cooks: Right now I am all about peaches, they are just so ripe, sweet, and juicy that I simply cannot contain myself from purchasing barrels of them while they are in peak season. This salad looks absolutely magnificent, Bev grills the peaches, which really brings out their sweet flavor, places them over a bed of peppery arugula, stuffs with Gorgonzola cheese, and tops with crunchy toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey! Bellisima!
4. Mayo-Free Egg Salad from Perry’s Plate: Now, this is my kind of egg salad. I absolutely love egg salad…but the point is that the salad consist of 99 % of egg and 1% of mayo. I often am disappointed when I order egg salad that is so congealed in mayo it might as well be called mayo salad…gross. Anyway, this egg salad takes a healthy spin as Perry uses just enough plain yogurt to combine the chopped egg. She adds a bit of fresh dill and vinegar to top it all of. I would serve this salad over a bed of spinach, arugula, or on a piece of whole wheat toast!
5. Thai Crunch Salad from Whipped: Move over P.F. Changy’s (Yes, I call it P.F. Changy’s b/c to me it just sounds better)! You know those wonderful lettuce wraps that are often served at contemporary Asian restaurants…well take those ingredients and put them into a salad and BAM, you have an explosion of Asian flavors in your mouth! This recipe is a take on California Pizza Kitchen’s recipe. The salad begins with two kinds of cabbage, tossed with scallions, cucumber, cilantro, edamame, roasted peanuts, grilled chicken, avocado, fried wonton strips, crisp rice sticks, and two kinds of homemade dressings! Yowza!
6. Sugar Snap Pea Salad from The Parsley Thief: Now, I used to absolutely detest peas. If you ever heard that saying “Momma always said eat your peas,” well I was the kid who hid her peas in her dinner napkin under the table. I don’t know how I developed this hate for peas…however, I know exactly how I grew to love them…it was after a dish I tried at one of my favorite Greek restaurants where the peas were stewed in a tomato broth and sprinkled with a bit of feta cheese….O so Yummy! Anyhoo, ever since then peas and I have been the best of friends. This recipe looks absolutely divine, combining sweet sugar snap peas with a lemon dressing, sliced radishes, fresh mint, and salty ricotta salata cheese…one of my faves. I would serve this as a side dish with a summer menu spread.
7. Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl from Oh She Glows: The first time I saw this recipe my heart sunk into my stomach. Angela from Oh She Glows knows how to take salads to a whole notha’ level and this recipe is a prime example. This salad is meant to be served up hot, and boy does it look delicious! Its basically a stewed pot full of protein with green lentils, spelt berries, red onion, garlic, red bell pepper, tomato, kale (o I love kale!), parsley, salt, and pepper. The best thing about this salad is the homemade Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing that is stirred into the pot at the last few minutes of the cooking process. I would suggest eating this salad when you really need a boost of energy to kick start your day. I can’t wait to try this!
8. Turkey Taco Salad by Martha Stewart: You have to hand it to her, even though Martha was a jailbird for a bit, she still knows how to cook it old school in the kitchen. Exhibit A: Turkey Taco Salad. Now, if anyone knows me I rarely eat out, but if I must then I am going to get some low-down dirty Mexican food, or Tex-Mex. My fave Tex-Mex is Pappasitos…I always order their killer chicken taco salad that comes with moist strips of grilled chicken and fresh veggies, served up on a bed of romaine with fried tortilla strips, cotija cheese, and a homemade honey mustard dressing. This turkey taco salad is it’s baby sister…ground turkey is piled on a bed of crisp Boston lettuce and tossed with zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, cherry tomatoes, shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and crushed tortilla strips. This looks killer! Ole!
9. Kale Waldorf Salad from Whole Foods Market: Its no secret that I have an undying affection for Whole Foods Market, I am practically there every other day…I’m not joking! I never joke when it comes to Whole Foods. Anyhow, Whole Foods definitely has an A++ in the salad department. This salad is a clever variation on the classic Waldorf salad, but uses kale instead of lettuce and adds apple and walnuts to the dressing for a creamy consistency without using the typical mayonnaise base. This looks ahhmazing!
10. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad by 101 Cookbooks: As we transition into winter I wanted to leave you with a salad recipe to kick start the fall season. This one takes the cake. The delicata squash is roasted in the oven to caramelized perfection and tossed with roasted fingerling potatoes, both which have been covered in a miso-harissa oil, kale, radish, and marcona almonds! O the heavens!

MANGIA!!!

Friday Link Love: A piece of cake!!!

This cake just screams Happy Birthday!!!

Sweet Figgy Goodness!

Holy Cannoli…Reese’s…mah fave!

Tir-a-misu=Pick Me Up (off the floor)

Sweet Strawberries+Cream Cheese Icing+ Dense Cake= Float me on a cloud!

You put the lime in the coconut…

This cake looks fabulicious!

Dad’s Fave!!!

There aren’t words for this

Bananas+Streusel+Gluten-Free=I smell a culinary genius!

Happy Friday all!
This week I have been as busy as a bee and I am thrilled to announce the grand opening of Lululemon Athletica at the Domain in Austin, Tx has finally arrived! Whoo-hoo, I never thought I would be so emotional, but the past couple of weeks have been amazing! I cannot describe how great it feels to be apart of such a stellar group of people. I have gotten to know each of them individually, and let me tell you, this is one unique group of people. We all have our own personalities which is what makes us more than a team…hell, we are a family! These past weeks we have ventured out to attend fitness classes together and really get to know the people that make up our wonderful community. Then, last week we spent 8 hours a day building our store, I mean our “home” from the ground up…this meant getting down and dirty, unpacking boxes, setting up mannequins, installing shelving, and of course having time for a few dance parties and laughs along the way. I feel because I have sweat with these people, and they have sweat with me, there is no turning back. A family that sweats together stays together! I have really taken some time this week to access my life, past, present, and future and I can say with full gratitude that I have never been happier! I have an amazing family, an awesome “job”, and great friends! I feel that life is just full of grand opportunities and that I can only go up from here! That being said, I just want to thank my new working family (I don’t even know if they read this) but I would like to thank my fellow lemons for making me feel welcomed in a world where starting a new job can be frightening…but this time, we were all in the same boat. Love my lemons! Okay, so switching gears a bit, it’s September and wouldn’t you know…that means it must be a month full of birthdays in my family. As you may have heard, I have a pretty large extended family and its natural for us to take up a big chunk of each month with birthdays. I have three cousins, two of which are brother and sister (and whose birthdays are one day apart), two uncles, one aunt, and o yea, my deceased dog, Jake (hey, he was a member of the family…don’t judge me) who all have birthdays in September. If you think September is bad, you should check out February in my family…it’s totally cray cray! Because I cannot be with most of them on their birthdays I decided to make this Friday all about cake, not necessarily birthday cake, but cake meant for all occasions, to show my appreciation and love for each of them. So, here are my Top Ten Cake Recipes that I am loving right now. Happy Birthday family! Love you! Let’s gain some weight together!

Top Ten Cake Recipes:

1. Pink Vanilla Birthday Cake from Sweetapolita: Let me tell you, the first time I discovered this blog, I knew this chick was the queen bee of cakes! Her cakes make me stare at the screen for five minutes, salivating over the perfect layered cakes, each with a precise balance of dense, yet light and airy cake, to velvety, creamy frosting. Now, this cake caught me eye because it is a classic vanilla birthday cake. I have always been a vanilla cake type of fan and this cake absolutely screams backyard birthday party. My younger sister and I have very close birthdays (about two weeks apart) so as children, we would always have a huge combine birthday sha-bang with our friends and family. This would almost always be a backyard birthday party where my dad would barbecue burgers and hot dogs and my mom would take care of the decorations and the cake (which she always purchased from Sam’s). My fave cake of all time was my “Aladdin” themed birthday cake (I dressed up as Princess Jasmine for Halloween when I was little…she was totally my idol, I mean c’mon really, a pet Tiger? that’s awesome!). Anyway, this cake looks absolutely gorgeous and scrumptious. I love the sprinkles!
2. Fig Cake from Dessert for Two: Now, this blog is run by Tina from Texas, y’all and let me tell you, she knows her way around a kitchen! Her blog had my heart at first glance. Just when I thought her blog couldn’t get any better, here she comes with this fig cake. Now, I love figs, especially with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey! However, I have never had the privilege of having fig cake. I must try this recipe a.s.a.p. because it looks simply divine…I mean, c’mon a spiced figgy cake with a homemade honey-cream cheese frosting. Hello, sign me up!
3. Peanut Butter Cup Cake by Eat, Drink, and be Merry: Now, by now you should know about my fully established love affair with peanut butter. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that I fell in love with this cake at first sight. Now, this cake has a peanut butter buttercream frosting and although I am much more of a cream cheese frosting gal, I have to say that anything covered in miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups has my name written all over it!
4. Tiramisu Cake by Smitten Kitchen: Yea, I said it, Tiramisu in cake form! It has been done people so it can be done again! Being Italian, it’s only natural that Tiramisu is by far one of my favorite Italian desserts. Not to brag or anything by my Zia Liz make the best Tiramisu in the whole wide world! She sent me home with leftover Tiramisu last Christmas and I had it every morning for my breakfast with a cup of coffee. Holy Moly…there is just nothing better than the signature airy, light, moist texture the moment you bite into Tiramisu. Then comes the subtle combination of espresso and brandy that just explodes in your mouth! By far my fave part about Tiramisu is the mascarpone filling…creamy and satisfying! Mangia Mangia!!!
5. Strawberry Sheet Cake by Homesick Texan: O my sheet! This cake is a true validation that no matter how homesick you are, you can recreate those traditional Texas dishes in any kitchen. I must say, that I am biased when it comes to Strawberry Cake because my grandmother makes the best damn strawberry cake on the face of the earth. She almost always makes it for my Aunt Ann’s birthday and the first time I had this cake I knew there was no turning back. The cake is so dense and moist, layered with a strawberry cream cheese frosting…and for a touch of originality my grandmother usually garnishes the entire sides of the cake with sliced strawberries. Now, this is recipe is a clever take on my grandmother’s recipe, Homesick Texan takes the cake to a whole notha’ level in a “sheet” cake form. Not to mention she gives a little punch to the icing by adding a bit of zesty lime juice! Holla!
6. Coconut Cake with Ginger-Lime Curd Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting by The Kitchen Sink Recipes: Now that’s a mouthful! This is a clever take on a coconut cake rich and sweetly tangy, with whispers of spicy ginger, and surprisingly a subtle coconut flavor that takes you away to that tropical island we all know and love.
7. Lemon and Raspberry-Lime Layer Cake by Desserts for Breakfast: I would definitely eat this cake for breakfast if given the chance. Anything with sweet and tart raspberries and I am all over it! Plus, because there is actual fruit in this cake you can always feel a bit healthier about having a second piece!
8. German Chocolate Cake by Just a Taste: A classic moist chocolate cake with a coconut-pecan frosting that is to die for! My Aunt Adrianna makes the best dang German Chocolate Cake in the world and my Dad requests it from her for his birthday every year. She never disappoints!
9. S’Mores Cake in a Jar by How Sweet It Is: Holy Frijole! Now, this is an innovative take on S’mores. Jessica from How Sweet It Is layers mason jars with a graham cracker crust, and uses her peanut butter hot fudge cupcake recipe as the filling. She tops each jar of cake off with a large mushroom and bam…S’mores in a jar!
10. Browned Butter Banana Streusel Cake (Gluten-Free) by The Ivory Hut: Bananas + Cinnamon + Buttery Walnut Streusel Topping + Homemade Caramel Sauce and it’s all gluten-free you say? Now, that is what I call a birthday party!

MANGIA!!!