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.

Friday Wallflavourites: Edition 28

A quick but BIG thank you to everyone who offered advice, wisdom, and lots of reassurance in response to my last post. You guys are seriously awe-mazing!!! Time to pay it forward by sharing even more link love today…let’s go!

I am such a sucker for breakfast. Okay, I’m a sucker for all meals, really (hobbitses much?), but these Peach Cobbler Pancakes via Life Made Sweeter have convinced me that I want breakfast to last all day longgggggg! Boo-yeah.

Peach Cobbler Pancakes - fluffy pancakes filled with juicy peaches topped with a warm spiced streusel is like having a delicious peach cobbler for breakfast-10

Sometimes my friends will ask me if I “miss eating meat,” to which I will now forevermore reply with this photo of Falafel Burgers with Pepperoncini Salsa via Joanne Eat Wells. Yeah, you’re welcome.

falafel burgers with pepperoncini salsa

Have you ever encountered the dreaded “overcooked cakes” disaster in the kitchen? Did I say disaster? I meant MIRACLE. Introducing Cake Spy’s awesome guide to what you can do with those overbaked or flat-out dry cakes! This girl’s a genius, guys. Freakin’ mind-reader.

Well GOOD THING I BOUGHT TWO HEADS OF CAULIFLOWER for no particular reason except that I was craving cauliflower and, oh yeah, see these nachos? Amazing. Get the recipe for Buffalo Ranch Roasted Cauliflower “Nachos” via The Wicked Noodle!

Buffalo Ranch Roasted Cauliflower "Nachos" - Roasted cauliflower with ranch dressing, fresh corn, shredded chicken and a hearty drizzle of buffalo sauce and a little more ranch. Get your veggies the delicious way! You can also make the Ranch Roasted Cauliflower on its own - so good!

And finally, you’re going to love these 5 No-Churn Ice Cream recipes via Half-Baked Harvest. Please excuse me while I wipe the spittle off my keyboard…..yeahhh okay, done. Oops. Nope. Not done, apparently…

No Churn Ice Cream 5 Ways | halfbakedharvest.com @hbharvest

In case you missed it on Wallflour Girl this week:

Extra Easy Hummus

Post-Exam Life: A Rosy Smorgasbord of Updates!

Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars

Other recipes I’m loving!

Baked Cauliflower Manchurian via Oh My Veggies

Cherry Peach Dump Cake via Crazy for Crust

Coffee Cake Donuts via Chef-in-Training

Cookie Dough Blizzard via Buns in My Oven

Hungarian Style Cold Cherry Soup via Kitchen Riffs

Mac ‘n Cheese Waffles via I am a Food Blog

My Favorite Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies via Runnin Srilankin

No-Churn Blackberry Chip Ice Cream via How Sweet Eats

Samosa Potato Cakes with Green Chutney via Minimalist Baker

S’more Ice Cream Sandwiches via Chef-in-Training

S’moreo French Silk Pie via The Spiffy Cookie

Strawberries ‘n Cream Miniature Chiffon Cake via Two Red Bowls

Strawberries ‘n Cream Shortbread Sandwiches via What Jessica Baked Next

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars via Life Made Sweeter

Vegetarian Tofu Bahn Mi with Spicy Peanut Sauce via Joanne Eats Well

What’s making you drool this week?… Read more

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Extra Easy Hummus

The following post has nothing to do with hummus, and it certainly isn’t “extra easy” for me to talk about. I’ll share the recipe for this hummus at the bottom of the post, as usual, so feel free to skip the rest and scroll down if you’re looking for it. If, however, you read on and have any insight to share, please do. Writing from a dark place, I could use the perspective right now.

(Edit: I am SO sorry about the timing of this post. I was writing it from a musty hotel room over the weekend and it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was Father’s Day until the post went live. I love my daddy to bits and I hope to write him a proper post of appreciation later this week :) until then, these are some immediate thoughts that I hope won’t be a damper. But I’d still love to hear your thoughts ASAP!)

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In recent years, I have learned the hard way that trust is not something that stands on a solid foundation built from words, assurances, contrition, or even years of trust-building. Instead, it teeters at the edge of a narrow, misshapen precipice, whose sharp point inexplicably–perhaps even miraculously–holds up the imbalanced weight that it bears, so that it seems always on the verge of toppling when the breeze of Doubt blows by–as Doubt will, on some sad occasions with more pertinacity than others.

With parents in particular, this precipice is a tricky one to travel, and one always has the feeling that a misstep will not only cause the entire structure of trust to crumble, but to cast one into a dark void of purposelessness and intense self-hatred that cannot be occasioned by anyone else. Those of us who are lucky enough to have loving parents know that we are born into a system of trust–that we begin, essentially, possessing one or more other beings’ trust without having earned a shred of it, unless you count the act of being genetically (or adoptively) related to someone “earning.” With every subsequent human encounter in our lives, we work hard to foster and maintain that trust–but a parent-child relationship is, for better or for worse, one that begins with a blind willingness to believe in someone we have only just come to know.… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Dips/Spreads, Healthy, Homemade/DIY, Lunch & Dinner, Snacks, Vegetarian

post-exam life: a rosy smorgasbord of updates!

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(Warning: crappy phone-quality photos ahead! Updates in raw stream-of-consciousness.)

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So in my last post, I promised to tell you all about the pre-exam procrastination and post-exam celebrations that have been happening since last Monday, when I was duly locked in a room with my dissertation committee to talk about a document that honestly needs to be reappropriated as kindling. I was so drained from writing that all I wanted to do once I finished was flop down on my couch and watch an entire lifetime’s worth of Gilmore Girls on Netflix while devouring a family-size pack of cookies ‘n cream ice cream.

Thankfully, I did not do any of those things (though I was amused to find that I gained five pounds during the eleven days between my proposal submission and exam–my sugar-dazed memory seems to recall singlehandedly plowing through two jars of cookie butter and a substantial number of these cookies). However, I did have a lot of fun, both before and after the exam, doing all sorts of things that have been on my grad school bucket list. I am still incredibly tired, though, hence the lack of a real post & recipe today–but I hope you enjoy this recap anyway! Here are just a few things that happened this month:

1. Attending to the wedding of a younger family member.

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Okay, I’m totally kidding–this one is by no stretch of the imagination at the top of my bucket list, mainly because it feels like the biggest faux pas from a Jane Austen novel being relived right under my nose. (Does everyone remember that famous scene where a scandalized Catherine de Bourgh balks at the fact that Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters are all “out” in society before their eldest sister is married? Yeah, that’s how I feel right now.)

But it was still really fun to go home for all of two seconds (more on that in a second) and see all of my family, not to mention goof off with my other cousins while the ceremony/lunch were happening.… Read more

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Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos: a recipe/post from your newest PhD candidate! (eep!)

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If it’s felt quiet around here lately, you’re completely right. But guys. Guys.

Guess who’s penning this post as a newly baptized English PhD candidate? (eeks!) Excuse me while I bust-a-move around the room a la old-school 90s arcade game.

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So for those of you who are just like, Ala you big nut what are you even talking about we have no idea please speak English okay, I have basically spent the past few months working furiously toward writing a dissertation proposal (called a “prospectus”) that I finally discussed with my entire exam committee on Monday. For a little shy of two hours, we sat in a room and questioned and brainstormed and pontificated about my ideas on the construction of children’s fantasy literature (and yes, that’s my dissertation topic–booyeah!).

Then they sent me out of the room and were all like GO STEW IN YOUR SWEATY INSECURITY and closed the door and deliberated.

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Okay, actually they sent me out at a really nice and comfortable point in our conversation, and basically everyone was grinning as I walked out and everyone was still grinning when I walked back in. I was honestly a little bit scared because I have never seen my advisor beaming so broadly before at me, and I expected a terrifying green imp to burst out of his skin at any second and shout, “NYAH NYAH, you failed!”

But thankfully, my advisor’s skin stayed intact and he actually shook me heartily by the hand as he said: “I am so happy to congratulate you on successfully passing your exam!”

I imagine there being a palpable exclamation mark at the end of that sentence. Like, never ever have I heard him use an exclamation mark and the word “you” in the same sentence before, so you know–pretty big deal!… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars

Friday Wallflavourites: Edition 27

Have you read my latest post on the Difficulty of Self-Love? Totally stop by and leave a comment if you haven’t–I’d love to hear your thoughts! We’ve definitely been long overdue for some Friday Wallflavourites–…so let’s get crackin’, shall we?

I think I may actually have passed out when I saw this Slutty Brownie Cookie Cake via Erica’s Sweet Tooth last week. If you’ve ever tried a slutty brownie, you’ll know that this is going to be EPIC. Saving the big guns for our next big occasion (like idk, I’d probably get married just so I can have this at my wedding).

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Speaking of Oreos…have you seen this No-Churn Oreo Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream via What Jessica Baked Next? I just bought a new pack of Oreos (good life choices are important, people) and I think I know what I’ll be using them for…

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These Chocolate Hemp Bars look like such SHOW-STOPPERS (and heart-stoppers, too–in a good way!). I seriously don’t know how she does it, but this crazy fudgy stuff is actually chock full of good-for-you ingredients, and you’d never even know it…

Chocolate Hemp Bars

I don’t know about you, but this weekend is going to be all about BRUNCHIN’, which is why I was so excited to see this awesome Rhubarb Crumble Pancake recipe via The Pancake Princess. DANG, girl! Can somebody please sign me up?

Rhubarb Crumble Pancakes // The Pancake Princess

Finally, we’ve been talking about ricotta so much around here these days that I just had to bookmark this Apricot Ricotta Oat Bars recipe via East of Eden Cooking right away. I mean, how delicious does that sound?! ‘Nuff said.

Apricot Ricotta Oat Bars

In case you missed them, here are my posts from the last bajillion years!

S’more Bars (+ some thoughts on the difficulty of loving yourself–recommended read this week!)

Article: On Co-Winning the 2015 California Strawberry Festival

Roasted Broccoli + Sweet Potato Black Rice Bowl with Sesame Miso Dressing + Vegetarian Flavor Bible Giveaway

Loaded Oatmeal Monster Cookies

Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke CakeNow an award winning recipe!Read more

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S’mores Bars { + S’More Thoughts on the Difficulty of Loving Yourself }

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Almost a year ago now, I wrote this post on Defining Your Self-Worth, which received tons of amazing, thought-provoking, vulnerable, and deeply genuine comments from all of you readers out there. Today, in the midst of one of the craziest and most turbulent but also “happiest” periods of my life, I want to continue the discussion by bringing up another related topic: the Difficulty of Loving Yourself.

This is going to be a long post, so if you’re here for the S’mores Bars recipe (which is phenomenal BTW), go ahead and skip to the bottom of this post. I promise I won’t be offended!

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“We accept the love we think we deserve.” This is the catchphrase of that wonderful coming-of-age book-turned-film that I’m watching alone tonight, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Having always identified as a Wallflour/Wallflower myself, that line always resonated with me. We accept the love we think we deserve. Fine. But what if there was no love to accept? What if, at the heart of it all, the problem wasn’t that I wasn’t accepting love, but that I didn’t deserve to be loved in the first place?

At my lowest moments, these are the thoughts that hang over my mind like an invisible but palpable cloud that blocks out all sunlight. Despite considering myself to be a fairly cheerful and positive person, the difficulty of loving myself has been something with which I have always struggled, but exponentially more so in the past six or seven years since all this crappiness happened. What makes the whole experience even more trying is–or at least was, as I’ll explain in a moment–what I perceived as a lack of stable support systems on which I could rely to actually talk about my problems. My blog has provided a surrogate version of that outlet for the past three years, but at some point the irreplaceability of face-to-face human warmth and contact just hits you, and suddenly the whole illusion of knowing what you’re doing and being the person the world thinks you are crumbles, leaving you to reconstruct some semblance of order from out of the rubble.… Read more

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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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