Classic Apple Dumplings

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. All opinions are my own. #BrighTENtheSeason

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Apple dumplings. Have you tried them? LOVE.

If you’re down for a classic treat that will be a repeat offender at your annual holiday gathering, this is the one. My cousin makes at least two pans every year and it’s always one of the most clamored-over desserts at the table. In addition to being insanely easy to throw together at a moment’s notice, these delicious morsels are the perfect blend of cinnamon, spice, apple & everything nice!

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The secrets to this dish are simple: it uses premade crescent roll dough as breading! The sugar cinnamon sauce also contains a surprise effervescent (yay, I’ve always wanted to use that word in everyday writing) ingredient: yep, lemon-lime soda! I went moseying around Target last week during my holiday baking shopping spree and picked up a pack of 7UP TEN®, a ten-calories-only soda (with full flavor) that was perfect for this dessert.  While I was there, I also nabbed a pack of these cute mini 7UP® bottles for my mum, who likes to grab a bottle from the fridge every once in a while when she visits–possibly as she’s munching on these dumplings…

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What’s extra fun is that I get to share a bunch of coupons with all of you today so that YOU can save and make these amazing apple dumplings, too! I’ve made it twice so far this year for potlucks and am planning a third offense soon…

Cartwheel offers:

  • 30% off 12pack of Canada Dry TEN®, 7UP TEN®, A&W TEN®, Sunkist® TEN™ Soda
  • 10% off 8pack 12oz bottles of Canada Dry®, 7UP®, A&W®, Sunkist® Soda and more

Oh! And jump for joy, because giveaways galore are here for the holidays.Read more


Filed under Uncategorized

Easy Squash Casserole

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturallyCheesy #CollectiveBias

Need more cheese in your life already? Visit Kraft for more delightfully cheesy recipes!

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Tortilla Chip: I can’t believe how mean you were today on the playground. You know how sensitive I am about my toasty crisp edges!

Cheese: Aww, c’mon–it was just a joke!

Tortilla Chip: I don’t want to taco ’bout it.

Cheese: But we’re friends–

Tortilla Chip: I am nacho friend!!!

(ba bum chiii)

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Have you ever been asked to tell a joke during an interview? After going to piano lessons unprepared and being eaten alive by a pit full of beetles, one of my greatest fears is having someone pop the “tell us a joke” question on me in a professional setting. Not only are the majority of jokes I know utterly unsuited for PC retelling–the ones that aren’t morally, religiously, or politically offensive are so, so cheesy.

Especially when they’re about tacos.

Eh? Eh?

No? Okay….

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Last week, I tried telling a joke about a chihuahua and was completely shut down by my friend, who just looked at me and asked blankly, “Was that the punch line?” Ouch. Guess it was a yappy joke anyway.

Thankfully, I redeemed myself shortly thereafter by telling a joke about a bear raiding a restaurant in Yosemite (in fact, the joke was stolen from a Yosemite park ranger), but after that I decided to stick to the kind of cheesy that I know I can do without shattering my dignity too badly. Enter cheesy easy squash casserole!

Now that the holiday season is officially here–yes, “Last Christmas” is currently playing on repeat on my computer, even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving–my oven is back on in full swing and the order of the day is casseroles.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Some HUGE News from the 2015 World Food Championships…

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Guys, hi!

I’m finally back in California, where the weather has dipped into the high 50s at nighttime and the wonderful lack of humidity limits my showers to one a day. I’m exhilarated, exhausted, and trying my darndest not to fall asleep at my desk as I type these words…

But there’s so much news to share that there’s really no good way to ease into it, so I’ll just say it:

Um, guys–I just won the 2015 World Recipe Championship.

Crazy, right???

Let me back up. As most of you know, I was away all of last week to compete in this year’s World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida. While we were certainly there for the competition, my family had tons of other things planned–5 days of Disney World and another day at Universal Studios, to be exact–and originally anticipated taking only Thursday (11/5) off so that I could compete. Little did we know what mad adventures awaited us over the next few days!

On Thursday morning, we arrived early at 6:30 AM to set up in the arena. The whole scene was a bit overwhelming, which is not surprising since the Kenmore Kitchen Arena is the largest outdoor cooking arena in the world. With over 50 cooking stations set up–complete with prep areas, every appliance you could ever dream of using, and the most amazing convection ovens I have ever laid my grubby grad student paws on, this gorgeous place was enough to turn any girl’s head!

Fortunately, there is no team in town quite like my family to keep my head from spinning off my shoulders. Within an hour we were all set up: two suitcases’ worth of dishes, pots, pans, utensils, and ingredients magically sprang up around our station, mostly thanks to my sous chef pro tempore brother, who took charge of all the nitty-gritty details that I overlook in the kitchen when I get excited.… Read more


Filed under Uncategorized

Vegan Coconut Scones

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I have so many updates (I mean, seriously. SO MANY!!!) for you guys from the World Food Championships over here in Kissimmee, Florida, but I can’t get into them now because we’re in the middle of soooo many crazy things and they haven’t quite sunk in as it is. But I’ll be tweeting and IGing pics as much as I can before I write my recap post (er, or posts) in a few days, so if you’re impatient then follow me on social media for the latest and greatest news!

But ermigawd I’m so excitedddddddddd. Also, please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to your comments or visit your lovely blogs in the upcoming week–I haven’t been out of the kitchen all this week!

Okay, that’s enough of a teaser for now ;) moving on!

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I made these vegan coconut scones the evening before my flight to Orlando last week–if you’ve never made scones at home before, you’re in for a real treat. Rather than being of the crumbly variety, this recipe yields a scone that is feather-light and omg-I-NEED-this-now kind of fluffy. I had neglected to ask my students whether any of them had dietary restrictions, but I love making vegan treats so I decided to try my hand at a dairy and egg-free scone.

Remember my “omg” moment like, 5 seconds ago?

Forget that for a minute. Because ermigawd these scones so gooooooooooood!

Yeah, I get excited pretty easily. But these really are amazing and simple to make!

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All it takes is some of your usual suspects: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, dairy-free margarine, etc etc. I also swapped in some coconut oil (to add that classic coconutty flavor) and some sweetened dried coconut for texture. If you’re not a fan of coconut, feel free to play around with this recipe as you like!… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch

Fail-Proof Baklava (if I can bake it, so can you)

Greetings from Florida!

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The weather is grubby, the condo is amaze-balls, and the adventures are just beginning over yonder in the Sunshine State. I’m sitting here in this spacious dining room with two suitcases’ worth of kitchenware sprawled over the counters, yet instead of thinking about the World Championships, all I can dream about are Disney World, Harry Potter, and endless days of buffets. Don’t worry, though! I’ve been practicing loads–not with baklava, mind you, which takes over an hour to prepare (though it’s much easier to make than you would think), but with a few special dishes that I’m excited to prepare for an actual panel of judges on Thursday. The two sort-of-secret recipes have gone through four rounds of revisions over the past few weeks (with my own friends, as well as the entire astronomy department–thank you, Anson and everybody!), so we’re keeping our fingers crossed–but all in all I’m here to have a good time, and that’s that. Wish me luck!

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In related news, I love traveling on my own. I love the feeling of connecting with random (non-creepy) strangers who just want to chat in unobtrusive ways with you.  On the first leg of my flight to Houston, I ended up seated next to a guy from Birmingham who was on his way home after a 4-month stint in LA with his firm. The next three hours flew by in a blur of increasing laughter and genuine interest, as well as a corresponding decrease in inhibition. We chatted about our families and sibs; stereotypes about Californians and Southerners, respectively; our work and school; our life goals (we’re both the same age); our travels and dreams for traveling even more. By the time our plane was about to descend, we had even had the one conversation that (to me) is a marker of a real connection: our least favorite imaginable death scenario.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot decorate desserts for shiz. On a scale of one to disaster, I am definitely the onset of the apocalypse.

Welcome to How Not to Decorate Your Oreo Pops for Halloween 101…

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For a non-decorator, though, I have to admit that these Oreo pops are pretty damn cute anyway. Sure, they’re not chef-d’ouevres by any stretch of the imagination–but considering that I made this batch at 4 AM within 60 minutes, that’s got to count for something, right?

I made these for an adorable Halloween party that my friends over in the education/IS department threw last week. They weren’t the only themed appearances, either: there were spooky eggs, kitty litter cake, witch’s brew, and props & costumes galore!

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Last Sunday, the BIG Halloween festivities continued when my fambam and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth–Disneyland at Halloweentime is inexplicably amazing. The Dapper Dans come out to sing their ghoulish quartet songs in minor keys; the scent of pumpkin and $4.25 churros wafts through the air; the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his crew of mischievous misfits. But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret of all that made this Halloween at Disneyland the best one ever:

We ate dinner at Club 33!!!!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, Club 33 is a members-only venue located in New Orleans Square, right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Blue Bayou restaurant. Membership is something like $10K per year, with a base fee of goodness-knows-how-much and an interminable waiting list.

We had been waiting to go in for two full years now. My brother’s friend, whose dad is a member, helped us secure a spot for my very belated birthday celebration, but renovations on the restaurant set us back a solid 24 months.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting for #OXOGoodCookies

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It’s that time of year again. OXO Cookies is supporting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and I get to share the deets with all of you!

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If you haven’t heard about them already, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity under the laws of New Jersey. Every year, they host this amazing campaign to donate funds to researching kids’ cancer. (Read: donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.)

So what does that have to do with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I’m sharing here today? I’m so glad you asked!

This month, OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign (up to their $100,000 commitment.) You can also look out for this sticker on their baking supplies, which means that they’ll be donating on your behalf when you buy labeled baking items:

When OXO sent me this cupcake supplies set to use, I was over the moon. Last year I made these cookies for OXO and this year I decided to stick with the peanut butter theme by creating these deliciously vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The cupcake base is vegan, but you’d never guess it–it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe as well and involves literally throwing a bunch of ingredients all at once into a large mixing bowl! As for the frosting, you can’t really go wrong with PB&chocolate, can you?

No, I didn’t think so. Helloooo, best combo ever!

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If you’re looking for a great way to do good this holiday season, I totally recommend stopping by the store and buying one or all of these handy cupcake tools that I used to bake these cupcakes. I can vouch for the quality of these items: I’ve been working with OXO for nearly two years now and it’s one of the few brands I’ll trust to turn out amazing baked goods every single time.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Vegetarian Tomato Bisque + Veggie Corn Dogs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FallWithATwist #CollectiveBias

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Confession time: so by the time I finally got around to photographing these veggie corn dogs and writing this post last week, there was only one left. ONE. Apparently I had eaten all the others without realizing it (okay, I definitely realized where this was going and liked them too much to care), so that’s why there is a single veggie corn dog in these photos…

Growing up, I loved corn dogs. They hold a special place in my heart because whenever my mom and I went clothes shopping at the mall, we would always stop by the food court stands and buy two corn dogs, plus a big cup of freshly squeezed lemonade to share. Since transitioning to a 95% vegetarian lifestyle a few years ago, I began searching for alternative options that would fit the bill, but nothing seemed to stick (ha ha, get it?). Believe it or not, it’s hard to find a veggie corn dog that can stand on its own two feet! Er, wooden popsicle stick.

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I don’t care whether you’re vegetarian or vegan or pescatarian or an avid meat-eater–whatever you are, these veggie corn dogs are it. One of my favorite things about being a food blogger is getting asked to try new foods and rambling on about my favorite ones endlessly. The corn breading and veggie hot dog in the center are so on point!

Ramble ramble ramble.


I personally can’t tell the difference between these and the original–if anything, these taste ten times better because they’re so light and don’t weigh me down after I devour one! Or two. Or four. Possibly right before swim practice.

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In other news, haaaave you met this tomato bisque?… Read more


Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Lunch & Dinner

Cheesecake Brownies with Fudgy Chocolate Ganache

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Somehow the gods of time have managed to speed us straight through October. In less than two weeks, I’ll be flying to Florida to compete in the World Food Championships–and you know it’s official because my completely un-glam face and bio have somehow been plastered on their website.

Watch out, WFC: your competition is about to get a whole lot derpier.

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As folks around me can attest, I have been baking a LOT lately. My friends, who have graciously volunteered to be guinea pigs help me taste-test my recipes over the past few weeks, are keeping me on track and–more importantly–helping keep me within the boundaries of sanity. Between writing and teaching and researching and emoting, the last thing I honestly want to do at the end of a long day is try recipes by myself, so thankfully these lovely folks are around to make the trial-and-error process a little less arduous.

My pants and the scale, on the other hand, are less happy campers.

Another downfall of all this prep is that I’ve temporarily suspended my no-added-sugar regimen in favor of the opposite: complete and reckless sugary abandon. My kitchen, which I’ve been too tired and too lazy to clean properly (why bother when it will just be coated in flour again the next day?), is now an artistic landfill of granulated sugar and egg splatters worthy of being transported to a modern art museum. The one upshot is that I’m also inclined to bake as much as I can during this interim period, which means that I’ll occasionally produce gems like these glorious cheesecake brownies with fudgy chocolate ganache and not even bat an eye as I photograph and devour the entire stack.

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Somehow I managed to salvage enough of these brownies from my ravenous maw to bring them to campus a couple of weeks back, which is how I know that they are some of the best brownies in the world.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Breakfast Tiramisu Parfait

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FoundMyDelight #CollectiveBias

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Fun fact #1: I love mocha.

Fun fact #2: I can’t have coffee.

What a way to start a story, huh?

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Once in a blue moon, I’ll drink mocha. That rich, sweet, milky, strong taste is a balm to my soul (no black coffee or espresso shots here!) and it’s also a literal headache–yes, apparently my migraines hate the caffeine.

Sometimes, when I go for long periods without coffee in my life, I’ll strategically position myself at the coffeehouse so that I’m surrounded by people drinking coffee and that wonderful smoky aroma. (So if you ever meet me in a coffeehouse, I am probably that person creepily sniffing your cup while you get up to use the bathroom. You have been warned!)

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Luckily, there is hope for people like me that appears in the form of mocha-flavored everything-you-can-think-of: mocha almond fudge ice cream, mocha-flavored chocolate, and my all-time personal favorite: this tiramisu. Now I don’t know about you, but one of the best parts about drinking coffee seems to be waking up every AM to that amazing aroma and taste, knowing that hundreds of millions of people around the world are doing the same thing. It’s like a whole imagined community of coffee lovers–how great is that?

I wanted in. I ran through a list of all the things mocha-related that I know and love–but after deciding that consuming a slice of tiramisu for breakfast every morning probably wouldn’t be sustainable for my wardrobe–and okay, that it probably wasn’t a great idea to ingest alcoholic anything before 8 AM on the regular–it was back to the drawing board…

And then I stopped and thought to myself: well, why shouldn’t I have tiramisu for breakfast?Read more


Filed under Breakfast & Brunch