Author Archives: wallflourgirl

About wallflourgirl

Hi! I'm Ala, an English grad student who loves to tell stories through half-baked ideas and fully-baked treats. My motto? The plot thickens. Just add cornstarch.

Say WHAT! On (Co-)Winning the 2015 California Strawberry Festival Berry Blast

 If you have been following my Instagram or Twitter accounts, you have likely heard me buzzing about the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard. I’m so excited to finally be able to share the whole, honest, and exhilarating story with you guys! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, so please take a chance to drop a note!

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One of the immense luxuries of being a food blogger is the ability to regulate your online presence and to carefully curate the public’s access to your day-to-day activities. Unlike celebrity chefs and basically anyone whose job requires interpersonal communication, I spend most of my working day where I’m most comfortable: behind a computer screen, heard but unseen, sounding incredibly witty (hypothetically speaking, at least) and yet sporting an unwashed pair of Imagineering sweatpants with brownie batter stains from the night before spattered down the right leg.

Well, all that glorious privilege went out the window this weekend when I competed in the 2015 California Strawberry Festival Berry Blast Cook-Off Competition: and–get this–took home the grand prize! I’m SO thrilled to announce that I will be competing in this year’s World Food Championships in November in Florida. In the meantime, we will be deciding where we want to spend our vacation getaway prize, and there is currently a $1400 Cutco knife set sitting in my kitchen, which is like $1385 more worth of cutlery than I have owned in my impoverished life, ever. If that wasn’t enough, the Daily Bruin has published a full article-length spotlight on my work and my blog this week. So yeah–this is all kinda crazy!

This was my first time ever entering a cooking competition, and what follows is my transparent, complete account of that entire incredible (and still hard to believe!) experience. I’ll just note that none of the thoughts expressed here reflect on, or in any way attempt to represent, those of the California Strawberry Festival. … Read more

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Roasted Broccoli + Sweet Potato Black Rice Bowl with Sesame Miso Dressing { #VegFlavorBible Giveaway! }

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Whether you’re a long-standing vegetarian (or vegan!), or just someone who loves cooking and hunting for the perfect flavors to accompany your colorful dinner table, you’re going to love the book I’m sharing with you all today. When Karen + Andrew reached out and asked if I wanted to use, review, and give away a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, I pounced on the opportunity like Simba nailed Zazu during that memorable scene from The Lion King.

Vegetarian? Flavors? The BIBLE of all things vegetarian flavored? COUNT ME IN.

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Have you ever been stumped when it comes to cooking that ingredient you bought on a random whim–expecting to use it every single day of your glorious kitchen life–and have never even touched? (cough my former relationship to tahini cough) That’s me like, 99% of the time. I’m a total impulse shopper, so often I buy fabulous fresh produce from the farmer’s market, tuck it away in my fridge, and it never sees the light of day again until it’s on the point of going bad and I just steam the crap out of it. You can imagine how often I have guests over for dinner…

With Karen + Andrew’s new cookbook, though, I’ve been seriously whizzing through my produce this month. Not only am I inspired to cook more often–I’m also inspired to try out new (and guaranteed awesome) flavor profiles that help me take full advantage of my stocked (but usually untouched) pantry!

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One of my favorite inspired dishes was this roasted broccoli + sweet potato black rice bowl with sesame miso dressing. It’s got to be one of the best vegetarian meals I have cooked up in a very long time, not least of all because the deep flavors of the black rice complement the nutty sesame, salty miso, and bright roasted broccoli so darn well.… Read more

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Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian

Loaded Oatmeal Monster Cookies { + loads of updates! }

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Time for some SERIOUS updates.

I know, I’ve been flagging on the writing/commenting/replying end of things (which is a total shame, because that’s the part of blogging I love best). In between teaching, prepping for my Part II exam (more on that in a sec), and some really exciting new developments in the cooking/baking part of my life, I’ve been catching about 4 hours of shuteye a night…when I’m lucky and don’t get insomnia. So to perk things up around here, I thought I’d take a big break from everything else, share some of the BEST colorful cookies I know (seriously, I served these at my ice cream cookie sandwich party a few weeks ago and they were ALL GONE), and sit down for a little life chat with all of you.

Got your tea or coffee? Good.

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1. First parcel of big news, which you might have read about on Sunday’s post, but anyway: guys, I’m competing in this year’s annual California Strawberry Festival Berry Blast-Off competition! After an hour of intensive cooking in a professional kitchen last week, the judges picked my original Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake as one of two entries for the final showdown. This will be my first time on a live stage (eep!) cooking (eep!) in front of hundreds of people (EEP!) with a microphone and cameras trained on me as I try to keep my hands steady enough to crack an egg like a normal person which I cannot for the life of me do (okay, where’s my fainting couch?). We’ll be traveling to Oxnard that morning so if you’re in the area, you might want to stop by the Strawberry Promenade at 1 PM! You can read more press releases about the competition here and here. Wish me luck!… Read more

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Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake for More-than-just-a-Mother’s Day!

Even as recently as high school, I recall taking it for granted that my mom’s identity was somehow singularly defined by motherhood – that, according to some unwritten and tacitly understood code of universal maternity, mothers were defined not by the lives they had led up to the moment of our births, but rather by their relationship to us, their children.

To me, my mom – my smart, sharp, wonderful, supportive mom – was therefore first and foremost a mother. Any other role she happened to inhabit – worker, wife, daughter, aunt, friend, sister – was incidental, almost like an afterthought meant to amplify her ability to continue to be, in my mind, the best mom in the world.

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It really wasn’t until grad school, a period when I finally started coming into my own and following some of the paths I had laid out for myself, that I learned the most valuable lesson about her: not only is she more than a supporting actor – she’s a dreamer, a visionary, an enabler, and one heck of a strong woman in her own right.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not surprised it took me so long to realize this. Growing up, I distinctly remember telling my mom that I would one day become a famous actress, to which she replied: “It’s fine to think about – but don’t get your hopes up.” Never one to mince words or sugarcoat the truth, my mom was (and still is) undoubtedly a realist, and this fact made it difficult for me to perceive how, at the core, she was also the greatest dreamer I have ever known.

So when I started blogging three years ago, the hobby concerned her: did I have enough time to study? Were there enough hours in the day?… Read more

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Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

The BIG Blog THANK YOU { + peanut butter chocolate rice krispies-smothered jumbo marshmallows }

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

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The post you’re about to read to me is SUPER near and dear to my heart in many ways, mostly because it features two of my DEAREST friends, fans, and unconditional supporters (who you’ll be meeting today, yeee!). What’s more, today’s post is a rare chance for me to put my blogging overdrive on pause and say a BIG thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the people who have meant the most to me throughout this amazing blogging journey: yep, that’s all of you!

An Introduction to the SUPPORT (SUPer ImPORTant) Team: Behind every blogger is a critical SUPPORT–or SUPer ImPORTant people–system. Whether this consists of the entire food blogging community or just your mom, blogging is never a solitary activity. It takes a lot of dedication to update your Instagram account every day at 6 AM with #frappuccino, photograph everyone’s food every time you go out to a restaurant, and hurl your kitchen into a tornado disaster zone on a semiweekly basis only to clean it up again right away because the clouds set in and all of your hard work is no longer photograph-worthy. Sure, who doesn’t admit that we’ve got our work cut out for us?

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Cheering squad at the annual Edible Book Festival

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In Vancouver 2014, meeting Nancy, the wonderful, lovely, multi-talented lady behind Gotta Get Baked

But when you’re the person who has to put up with the person who does all of this loco stuff on the regular, like most of my friends and family do, it takes much more than time: it takes patience, enthusiasm, and a genuine willingness to put your faith in the fact that your friend is not perhaps just a crazy loon whose life goal is to give every single person around her onset diabetes.… Read more

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How to Host Your Own Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich + Sundae Bar

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

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Last Wednesday, I did a wonderful thing. I did a wonderful, very cool thing. I did a wonderful, very cool, crazy thing that has revolutionized the way I think about summer. Can I get a Josh Gad/Olaf solo about summer in here? No? Well bully that, here it is anyway….

I hosted my very own ice cream cookie sandwich + sundae bar!

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The only thing better than getting together to celebrate the arrival of summer with friends in late April is getting together to celebrate the arrival of summer with friends AND homemade ice cream AND homemade cookies AND homemade toppings. I stopped by Walmart the weekend before to grab some dessert-making essentials, like Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream Bars for my cookies ‘n’ cream cookies, a big bag of M&Ms for my loaded Kitchen Sink cookies, and the hit of the party: my homemade no-churn Twix ice cream, which I’m sharing here today–scroll to the bottom for the stellar (and simple) recipe!

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Hosting parties for no official designated holiday makes me one seriously happy crazy person. The night before the big get-together, I cranked up the TSwift, pulled out every pot and bowl I own, whipped up an insane amount of ice cream, and belted out the lyrics to “Blank Space” straight into my ice cream scoop while I was doing the dishes like a responsible adult-like human being thingy.

If you’ve ever experienced this feeling and love it, take my advice and throw the party. You’ll thank me for it, I promise!

If you’ve never experienced this feeling before: THROW THE DANG PARTY NOW. TRUST ME. It’s been a full week and my friends are still raving about the sweet idea!… Read more

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Filed under Cookies, Frozen Desserts

Friday Wallflavourites: Edition 26

I’d like a refund on my Time Machine, please– how is it the very last Friday of April already?! I guess the manufacturers are making up for it with some BOMB recipes this week, though, because today you’re going to drool over all the delicious links I’m sharing…

Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with Cynthia from Two Red Bowls. She posted this Herbed Foccacia & Pimento Romesco this week and I just about dropped out of my chair. Pimento in my foccacia? Count me in!

herbed focaccia with caramelized onions & romesco | two red bowls

My recent love has been the famous “poke cake”: a luscious homemade cake in which you poke a bunch of holes and pour in delicious things like sweetened condensed milk. If you’re looking for great starter recipe, check out this Chocolate Milk Poke Cake from Cake Spy!

Seven minute frosting

Fudgy and healthy doesn’t really get any better than this Chocolate Avocado Bread from Hip Foodie Mom! If the Time Machine people can’t get me a refund, can they at least build me a contraption so I can eat this right off my screen?

Moist, flavorful and packed with vitamins, fiber and healthy fats . . you need to try this Chocolate Avocado Bread! #glutenfree #chocolateavocadobread

After crazy week desserts, I’m looking for any excuse I can find to “healthify” my meals. So okay, this Easy Zoodles Bake via The Iron You is loaded with stuff–but seriously. ZOODLES!!!

Easy Zoodle Bake

All bread should be cheesy: this is a fact. I guess I’m not the only one who got the memo, because check out these crazy good Cheesy Tomato Basil Rolls from Bakerita!

These Cheesy Tomato Basil Rolls are packed full of tomato flavor and fresh basil with gooey mozzarella cheese melting out of the middle and a Parmesan crust on top! These are the perfect snack or soup accompaniment.

Okay, remember what I was saying just a few seconds earlier about going healthy this week? Well, you can forget that I said anything of the sort: all I have to say is, I can’t wait to try this recipe for Deep Fried Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese Dumplings from Big Flavors Tiny Kitchen! I’m so glad I found her blog, and you should all check it out too!… Read more

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No-Bake Cookie Butter Bars for #SundaySupper

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It’s hard to believe, but change is beginning to settle in the thick, smoggy air. The days are getting longer, the cotton material of my shirt is sticking to my armpit to an increasingly embarrassing degree, and these days I can go until nearly 7:45 PM before the sun starts setting and I actually begin to feel guilty about all the work I haven’t done for the day.

In other words: summer is coming!

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It’s hard to believe we spent the last two perfect weekends outdoors at two of the West Coast’s biggest book festivals–the Young Adult literature festival last weekend, followed by the city’s annual book festival this weekend–surrounded by some of the best, most delightful names in the world of publishing. (For example, yesterday afternoon I met Mac Barnett, one of the friendliest children’s book authors out there, a veritable genius, and a client of one of the lit agents I had worked for years before!)

I spent the first weekend volunteering at the book festival, meeting a variety of YA authors but also getting to interact with thousands of wonderful, vibrant fans (over 6,500 of them turned up!). Last Saturday was brutally sunny, and some of these folks waited in line for over 2 hours just to nab a signed book copy–not to mention the opportunity to exchange a coveted “hello” with their favorite authors. I ended up monitoring the author signing queues, turning away over 200 people in the course of 3 hours because there was simply no way to accommodate every single autograph request.

It was a thankless task at best, but even I was stunned by just how gracious most of the fans were! Most were disappointed, of course, but several of them thanked me for doing my job and for treating that crazy afternoon with a cheerful smile.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars

Grilled Cheese Rollups

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias (Psst! If you love grilled cheese, you’ll want to check out more cheesy recipes at Kraft.com!)

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If you had to pick five objects that represent your entire childhood, what objects would you pick?

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In no particular order, mine would be an inflatable armchair, the Backstreet Boys Millennium CD, my favorite pair of obnoxiously polka-dotted booger green tights, grilled cheese, and Kool-AidCan I get a hashtag #90sbliss?

(Especially for that sexy inflatable armchair–I owned a blue one like this. Cool kids? You bet your velvet bellbottoms and rainbow slinkies we were.)

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Discovering Kool-Aid Easy Mix as an adult was like stepping into a time machine and being transported instantly back into the head-boppin’, teeny-bopper 90s – except this time, there was no irritated high school cashier to tell me off for refilling at the drinks machine wayyy too many times. I bought all three flavors from Walmart recently – cherry, tropical punch, and grape – and I may or may not have already sipped my way through an entire bottle on my own before I even got around to writing this post. Whoops? (Good thing it has 50% less sugar than comparable regular sodas, right?)

When you live in 90°F springtime California, though, it’s hard not to want to drink Kool-Aid all the time. You can probably imagine that Kool-Aid Easy Mix is kind of nirvana for someone like me: just add water and enjoy? Now that’s my kind of childhood throwback!

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That’s not the only 90s throwback I’m sharing here today, though. As you can probably tell from the photos of gorgeous, oozing, melty, cheddary cheese that are flooding your lovely Tuesday monitor at this very moment (I’m sorry, did you say you’re at work and want to lick the whole screen right now? … Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Friday Wallflavourites: Edition 25

If the weeks of April fly by any faster, somebody had better buy me a jumbo sized pack of those sour patch gummies you get from the airport, because Ala does not fly without her gummies. Ever. Here’s another two weeks’ worth of awesome recipes and fabulous bloggers from all over the blogosphere!

It’s no wonder that this is a family favorite recipe! Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker shares this awesome recipe for Fried Dough Pastries!

My grandma's recipe for fried dough - an Easter tradition when I was little! | browneyedbaker.com

I don’t know about you, but for me hummus is the nectar of the gods. Throw in some coconut Thai curry flare, like this recipe for Thai Coconut Curry Hummus from Oh My Veggies, and we’ve got a supernaturally awesome dip on our hands!!

Thai Coconut Curry Hummus

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows that I am obsessed with tofu. Then it’s no surprise that I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw this great recipe for Tofu Fries with Sesame Honey Garlic via I am a Food Blog. I mean, simple is simple–in this case, simple is also DIVINE.

tofu fries - www.iamafoodblog.com

I just have to gush to you about this next one – if you’re intrigued at all by the cauliflower rice phenomenon, you need to try this innovative recipe for Korean Style Cauliflower Rice. Alice from Hip Foodie Mom knows what she’s about with these intense flavors!

Packed with big flavors, veggies, kimchi and some heat, this Korean Style Cauliflower Rice does not disappoint! Cauliflower rice lovers, you need to try this! #cauliflowerrice

Finally, Easter may be over, but may need for these Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes will never end! They have got to be just about the cutest thing in the world, courtesy of my dear friend Aimee from Wallflower Girl!

Nākd “Hot Cross Bun” Cupcakes #vegan #glutenfree

Other amazing recipes on my radar this week–MUST try!:

Almond Joy Granola Bars via Broma Bakery

Asparagus Brunch Tart with Parmesan and Basil via Scrummy Lane

Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole via The Spiffy Cookie

Cookie Butter Cake for Two via Whisk and Shout

Easter Cookie Bars via Shenannagans

Fudgy Granola Bars via Pies and Plots

Graham Cracker Popcorn Toffee Bars via Bakers Royale

Maple Banana Oat and Nut Muffins (Vegan) via Bowl of Delicious

Mrs.Read more

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