The Fluffiest Little Pancakes {secret ingredient!}

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

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It feels like food bloggers are always on a quest to find the perfect something. Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, donuts………pancakes?

Well today you can call me Frodo, because I think I’ve nailed this quest. Without further ado, I give you: the fluffiest little pancakes!!!

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There are a lot of theories out there about what makes the “perfect” pancake. Some folks are of the buttermilk & baking soda camp; others use baking powder as leavening. When the Humanities grind gets to be too much, the fun of experimenting in my cozy kitchen gets me excited again and makes me feel like I’m back in 5th grade Mad Science camp. And guess what I discovered?

You don’t need a fancy formula for perfectly fluffy pancakes. You don’t need kitchen know-how. You don’t even need milk or eggs, if you wanna roll the vegan way.

All you need is a super top-secret ingredient…

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Whoops, did I spoil it?

(Here’s me actually pouring it into the bowl–you’ll notice I erm, missed a little bit above)

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Yep–bubbly, effervescent, all-natural, unsweetened, zero calorie, and zero sodium goodness: seltzer water!!!

Lifts you right up just thinking about it, right? Ha!

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I discovered this surprise ingredient while I was scouring the interwebs for a pancake recipe that wasn’t just the same chummy shlummy formula. Luckily, I had fallen in love with seltzer water a few years back when Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water was all the office stocked in its fridge, so I quickly ran down to Ralph’s and hauled my butt back up the giant hill with one of these wonkin’ 12-packs in tow.

Fluffiest Pancakes Ralph's

The things I do for you guys, really.

My arms might still be sore–I hope one of you had the decency to at least call my masseuse.… Read more

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Filed under Breakfast & Brunch

No-Churn Cake Batter Ice Cream

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

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Every time my friends and I visit the ice cream parlor, there are a few flavors I will always avoid as a matter of principle. Bubble gum. Cotton candy. Cake Batter.


Granted, I don’t know if I would order it at an ice cream shop even now–to be honest, all the preservatives and artificial flavors in storebought cake batter ice cream kind of creep me out. I mean, eating baked cake is one thing–raw, unadulterated preservatives are another. But then I had this awesome opportunity to make my own at home using a cake mix that boasts no colors, preservatives, or artificial flavors, and wow. Just…wow.

Guys, you won’t even want to avoid this no-churn cake batter ice cream! Four minutes from start to freezer is all it takes, I promise.

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My big confession here is that I don’t own an ice cream maker–whiiiiich, is good news for you because that means this ice cream is churn-free, hassle-free! It starts with just a few ingredients that I bet you’ve got sitting in your pantry right now, like:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pillsbury Purely Simple white cake mix (lookee, I even haz coupons for you!!! Save $0.50 on 1 with coupon, available 10/19-11/15. Expires 11/30!)

If for some reason you’re missing any of these, I highly recommend you bust your butt to the nearest grocery store ASAP. The moment I found out a non-scary, ice-cream-safe cake mix actually existed to satiate my sudden cake batter ice cream craving, I jogged the whole 2 miles to Ralph’s and raided their cake mix section for a few boxes of that adorable dough boy mix:

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So am I a fan?… Read more


Filed under Frozen Desserts

4-Layer Everything Bars

4-Layer Nougat Caramel Cookie Ganache Krispies Bars

Before I begin, I just want to say that I’m not at all sorry for sharing this dessert with you. Yes, it’s a crazy dessert–yes, it’s so insanely good that I nearly picked through half of the pan before I managed to pry my paws off of these layered bars long enough to package them and ship them off. But will I say sorry?

Certainly not!

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The thing is, I’m a chronic sorry-sayer. If you’re not one yourself, you know one: that friend who, even when she is doing you a favor, will say “sorry” out of instinct more than anything else. And then of course, there’s the neverending loop of sorries, which usually happens when somebody points out that you’re saying sorry way too much, so your first response is to apologize for saying sorry so often–and thus begins the Great Chain of Apologies.

But as I said, I won’t be apologizing for these bars. Not even a tiny morsel, because they are unforgivingly knock-your-socks-off good.

I won’t apologize for the way your jeans fit after you eat them.

I won’t apologize for the incessant daydreams and steady stream of drool that these bars may incur during your regular work/schoolday routine, most probably (knowing your luck) right as your boss/teacher is asking you an important question.

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In all seriousness, though: saying sorry really is an infliction, since the act of saying sorry when one has little to nothing for which to be sorry is really an indicator of something deeper happening. Several times in the past six months or so, I’ve called up some of my closest friends in the hopes of talking through some difficult issues–moral compasses, ethical dilemmas, others’ emotions, my own repeated near-meltdowns (or actual meltdowns, as earlier this week proved). The first words out of my mouth on every call were: “Sorry, do you have time to talk?” One text I sent said: “Sorry, can I be honest?”

And the first words my friends–all of them–said were not “of course” or “sure!” but: “Dude, don’t apologize.”

Followed by: “This is what friends are for.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Uncategorized

Healthy Spiced Apple Granola

This shop has been compensated by Vons. All opinions are mine alone. #AStockUpSale #Vons #CollectiveBias

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Whenever I get stressed, I go on these epic grocery store raids. They wouldn’t really be a problem, either–I mean, who doesn’t need 15 boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch sitting around, right?–…IF I had a car for transporting all of my crazy impulse buys back to my place.

As it turns out, I don’t have a car, and with the first week of school upon us (FINALLY) stress levels are at simmering somewhere around a pleasant 7 out of 10. Apart from spending way too much time trying to figure out enrollment issues and kick-start a regular study group schedule with my fellow grads, I’ve also been going to Disneyland and watching a sneak peek screening of The Martian two nights ago um, not been going to Disneyland and definitely not spending my time watching awesome movie screenings. Pffft. (You guys have to see this movie, though.)

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Staying true to the spirit of stress shopping, I decided to take the afternoon off yesterday after class + 6 hours of extra office hours and make the 3-mile trek–yes, on my feet–down to Vons so that I could raid their aisles for some serious schooltime snack food.

Now, this is where things get silly. Have you ever walked into a grocery store with exactly two items on your shopping list…and come out carrying twenty instead? Oh, and here’s the real kicker: it’s only when you’re on the way home in your (hypothetical) car that you realize you’ve completely forgotten to buy the things for which you went to the store in the first place?

This happens to me all. The. Time.

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Now, when you’re without a car (like me) and weak (like me) and seriously distracted (like me), impulse buying + forgetfulness is not a good combo.… Read more


Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Healthy, Snacks

When a Food Blogger Gets Hangry….

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

Have a ever seen a food blogger get HANGRY?

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You’d figure that, for people who spend the majority of their days around food–making it, tasting it, styling it, photographing it–hanger isn’t a problem. Let me make this clear: HANGER IS REAL. YES. EVEN FOR FOOD BLOGGERS.

“But how is this possible when you spend all of your time around food?” you ask. Excellent question. Before I launch into my self-righteous explanation, however, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page about what hanger actually entails. Here’s the dirty dish from my favorite reliable source for information, Urban Dictionary:
Hanger (n): A lethal combination of hunger and anger, the result of waiting so long to eat that your blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels, impairing both your mood and your judgment. Particularly manifests itself when you are with a significant other and trying to make decisions about where to eat now that you’re both starving.

Heh. Don’t worry, I smiled sheepishly when I read that last part, too. Totally justified!

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There are three main reasons why food bloggers are 53% more likely to get hangry than your average Jane or Joe, and 72% more likely to do stupid things like make up statistics when food is not readily available.

The first reason is that food bloggers are just hungry people to begin with. Now, maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but if you’re going to dive into this line of work, it’s likely that you’ve got an appetite and that you want to satisfy it.

Likewise, when you don’t satisfy it, you get hungry pretty quickly. Sometimes unreasonably so. And that hunger quickly turns into hanger.… Read more


Filed under Uncategorized

Pecan Pie M&M’s®-Loaded Applesauce Cake Bars

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

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One of the strangest things about being on the quarter system is that although the rest of the world has signed this tacit contract that says yes, the end of August is the perfect time for everyone to be back at school and we should all probably cooperate to coordinate this educational effort, over here we just do jazz hands or something until one day we look at the calendar again and summer is officially over and we’re all like, OK, yeah, now we can go back to school.

So now it’s three days into autumn, yesterday was the first day of school, the sun is still shining because #SoCal, and I spent all of Wednesday baking these awesome and easy-as-pecan-pie Pecan Pie M&M’s®-Loaded Applesauce Cake Bars in what can only be described as a desperate attempt to make it feel like autumn.

Because baking feels like autumn (even in 90 degree F weather). And apples feel like autumn. And you can bet your stretchy autumn holiday pants that gently spiced cinnamon & ginger scents wafting through your kitchen feels–and smells–like autumn!

Speaking of baking…

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Sweepstakes like these just make me happy, and sharing them with all of you in order to enable your fall baking (yaaaaas enabling!) makes me extra happy. In case you haven’t heard, the #bakeinthefunsweepstakes are your chance to be awesome and win yourself a KitchenAid® stand mixer. I know, say WHAT.

Homemade dessert bars not included. Sorry :(

MARS Bake In The Fun Sweepstakes

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As usual, however, I’m ready to be the bearer of good news and say…these bars took me 25 minutes to make from start to finish. 25 minutes, guys. And that included 23 minutes of baking time sooo…you do the math!… Read more


Filed under Uncategorized

Honey Walnut Tofu with Long Grain and Wild Rice

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

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Growing up, rice was a staple at home. If it was mealtime and there wasn’t rice on the table, either you had read the clock wrong and it wasn’t dinnertime, or you were eating out. Or the house was on fire but even then, there was probably rice…

I think I can count on both hands the number of times our family partook in a dinner without rice–because yes, even when it was lasagna night, the rice cooker would still be steaming happily away. You know, heaven forbid the pasta got burnt and became inedible or something.

Maybe we just really liked rice.

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So you can imagine the shock I felt when I learned in college that some of my friends didn’t eat rice at all. When my floormates and I had a potluck during my second year, I remember looking around the table for something that wasn’t bread, pasta, or some other form of insanely cheesy carbs.

Most importantly, where was the rice??

Okay, and also where were the chopsticks, because lezbehonest “not impaling your food before eating it” > “poking holes all over your food with a fork,” any day. Even if you have to bring your bowl up to your face when using chopsticks just to shovel the rice into your mouth. (But that’s half the fun!)

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Fortunately, once those godforsaken college years passed and I graduated to a real kitchen of my own, a nightly order of rice was back on the menu–and this time I was determined to play experimenter. As a kid, I had poo-poo’ed anything other than steamed white rice, mainly since my mom went through a phase of mixing brown rice with jasmine rice in the effort to make our meals “healthier.” It tasted terrible, with the brown rice still uncooked and the jasmine rice a big pile of mush.… Read more


Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian

Mexican Wedding Cookies { + writing about difficult issues }

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While I never intended for this blog to be a space for me to share and sort through difficult emotions, it’s funny how much I’ve come to rely on WG as that kind of outlet in a few short years. I’ve never been able to sustain a trusting relationship for more than a few months, yet here I am pouring out my soul to hundreds and thousands of readers whom I have never met–many of whom will never meet me. I have always loved writing, and writing about these issues offers relief and newfound clarity, more often and not in the form of the comments I receive, which offer new perspectives and insights that I would not otherwise have had the courage to solicit.

I know I’m not alone in this endeavor, either. In the web comic world, writing about depression is a major issue, like this deeply impactful post from Hyperbole & A Half that first introduced me to the complete story of what it’s like to be depressed. (She’s gone largely off the radar since publishing that post.) Closer to home, some of my blogger friends have revealed incredibly intimate, painful, and sometimes dark moments from their lives:

Courtney from Neighbor Foodie, who is one of the bravest people I know, wrote this post about the road to recovery and personal healing after her miscarriage

Dorothy from Crazy for Crust shared her all-too-real story about struggling with weight, body image, and self-love

Nancy from Gotta Get Baked is one of my favorite gals of all time, and we’ve had dozens of conversations since we met two years ago about the problems of self-loathing, being true to oneself, and life outlook. I love every single post she cranks out, but one of my favs was this eye-opening post about how we deal with cycles of internalized negativity.… Read more


Filed under Cookies

here’s my story. what’s yours?

Caution: cliches ahead! Read on (I want your thoughts), but consider yourself warned.


(Image Source: Celestine Rhythm)

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you…I have been changed for good.” - For Good, Wicked

Every once in a while, you meet someone special who changes you–for better or for worse, but without a doubt: for good.

“Just a second we’re not broken just bent / And we can learn to love again” – Just Give Me A Reason, P!nk

The old cliche goes that if you really love something, you should let it go. If it comes back to you, then you know it’s yours to keep.

Sometimes, though, something that good deserves to be let go for good.

“Sometimes we feel so scared and sick that we just love who we are with” – Who We Are With, Paradise Fears

It’s easy to hang onto something about which we care a lot or have attached ourselves in some way. When I was in the third grade, my parents and I went to the store and bought this adorable white stuffed bear that played a song (I don’t even remember which song now) when you pressed this big red heart that the bear was holding. It was a Valentine’s Day gift for my favorite teacher, and I was proud for picking out what would surely be the best present in the whole class–but on the evening of February 13th, I suddenly announced that I wouldn’t be bringing it to school. I liked Valentino too much and didn’t want to give him up; besides, I had already named him, so of course I couldn’t let him go now.

My parents, being the indulgent people they could sometimes be, dutifully ran to the store at 10 PM on Valentine’s Day eve, bought the only bear left on the shelf (a slightly sad-looking, plain brown bear with no musical talent and a tiny red heart), and gave it to me without a word.… Read more


Filed under Uncategorized

Peach Crumble Frozen Delight

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I always knew that I was a fan of the frozen dessert, but THIS. Two weeks ago this dessert happened and I immediately considered abandoning all of my life’s responsibilities & relationships and diving headfirst into a committed romance with this dessert.

Of course, I’m pretty sure I say this exact phrase about once a week, but I really mean it right now. I swear on my entire vintage collection of Disney animated VCR tapes. I mean of course I don’t REALLY because that collection is freakin’ awesome, but still.

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The awesome thing about this Peach Crumble Frozen Delight is–well, how could I narrow it down to just one thing? For starters, I made this dessert completely in the dark.

Yep, it was 3 AM and I had a bad case of insomnia and, as luck would have it, my kitchen light had gone out the evening before and the repairman wasn’t slated to arrive until the following morning to fix it. So, as a relatively intelligent grad student who’s had 20+ years of schooling under my belt, what do I do next?

Hint: it’s not “get the living room lamp.”

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I ended up whipping together the filling, baking the streusel, and layering up this entire frozen dessert with nothing more than the occasional light from my ajar refrigerator door–which, for the record, is not very much light at all. (Note to anyone looking to try this: hindsight is 20/20, and apparently knives are just as sharp when it’s light as when it’s dark. Be careful when you’re cutting your peaches–eeks!) It’s that easy. Oh, and remember that sugar-free challenge I’ve been doing with my friend this past month, with one cheat day a week? Well, that meant that by the time I finished this crazy bake/no-bake sesh at 5 AM, I hadn’t even tried said dessert.… Read more


Filed under Frozen Desserts, Fruit Desserts