This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalancedMealsMadeEasy #CollectiveBias
Excuse the radio silence here for the past few weeks, but I have so much to catch you guys up on!
With June right around the corner, dissertation-writing has officially kicked into overdrive: I still have my final chapter to go (eeps!), not to mention tons of revisions, an intro, and a conclusion. But what’s 100+ pages in four three months anyway, right? *cry*
To keep myself sane, I’ve been trying a whole bunch of new, exciting things lately–which I know sounds like a completely crazy proposal, but sometimes I think these new challenges are the only things keeping me on my feet! For example, my co-coordinator and I recently wrote a 100+ page Oscars-themed murder mystery party that turned out to be so much fun! I’m taking a break to visit Portland for the first time soon, and my friends and I are doing some major trip planning for this summer (so stay tuned!).
One of the biggest developments is that I’ve also been semi-training for my first ever (sprint) triathlon this Sunday! If you’re unfamiliar with sprint tri’s, it’s basically a 400-meter swim, a 13.1-mile bike ride, followed by a 5k run. I’m incredibly nervous because I haven’t had a chance to train very much due to my crazy schedule, but I can’t wait to check this new challenge off my bucket list. Wish me luck!
In order to supplement my training regimen, I’ve been focusing on incorporating more balance and wholesome foods into my diet leading up to the race. This orange-glazed tofu veggie bowl has become one of my lunchtime favs recently: not only is it super simple to prepare, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a morning swim-run combo!… Read more
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KetchupWithFrenchs #CollectiveBias
If you’re like me, your friends laugh when you try to talk to them about football. I’m actually quite well-versed in first downs, punts, and incompletes–I even played some touch football in high school–but somehow I never found the patience to sit down for a game, and sooner or later everyone just assumed that I wasn’t interested in the sport (which was mostly true).
Now that the end of grad school is in sight, though (!!!), and now that I’m plotting elaborate schemes on how to use the piles and piles of free time that I’m sure post-grad freedom has to offer, I’m toying with the idea of joining a…wait for it…fantasy football league!
I know what you’re probably thinking: ketchup? In rice?? If you didn’t grow up eating this dish, I’ll admit that it sounds like a weird concept. But I’ve been eating this meal since I was five and I can tell you for a fact that it’s a staple that you absolutely need for those days when you have wayyy too many leftovers waiting to be used up.… Read more
My first encounter with the infamous brussel sprout didn’t happen until grad school. While kids around the Western world were crinkling their noses at piles of mushy, oversteamed sprouts, I was gobbling up perfectly stir-fried bok choy and steamed gai lan at home. Naturally, I was curious about the villainized vegetable when my friend finally served it at a potluck, and I brought the fork to my lips with a hint of trepidation before taking a nibble. But surprise surprise: it was delicious!
Of course, I’ve had tons of terrible encounters with poorly-made sprouts since then: ranging from the could-not-be-pierced-with-a-spear variety to the steam-the-crap-out-of-it-boogery-mash kind, brussel sprouts admittedly live up to their bad reputation more often than not.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution, and it lies in these Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts! The key to the perfect roast is a fairly high temperature (for those crispy burnt outer leaves) and plenty of oil. I tossed my brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted them on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes before drizzling a heap of maple syrup over them. Then back in the oven they went for another 15 minutes–and voila! The perfect side dish or appetizer for any party–I’ve made these on at least five different occasions and they’re always the first dish to go!
It’s been freezing here lately–um, and I mean that metaphorically because a) I live in California and b) the temperature is actually only 52 degrees F outside, but that’s COLD here–so I’m super excited to turn on my oven soon and get roasting again. May these sprouts keep your body warm and your belly super satisfied!
If you secretly make trips to Red Lobster just so you can stuff your with their famous, melt-in-your-mouth buttery Cheddar Bay Biscuits, here’s some good news for the new year: now you can make (and enjoy) them in your own home! (Recipe here.)
9. Slutty Cheesecake Bars
A thick layer of chocolate chip blondie, rich cheesecake on top, and whole Oreos crammed all throughout give these infamous bars their name. One of the very first recipes that I posted on Wallflour Girl (note the tacky rainbow wrapping paper backdrop) and still one of the most popular after five years! (Recipe here.)
8. Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies with Kahlua Icing
I’m not a booze kind of girl…usually. But put a plate of these extremely fudgy Kahlua brownies (and maybe a White Russian!) in front of me and they’ll be gone before you can say “boozy.” (Recipe here.)
7. The Very BEST Tiramisu (from America’s Test Kitchen)
My shortlist for best recipe sources is, well, short–but I would trust America’s Test Kitchen with my first-born baby. This simple but authentic tiramisu recipe is the best that I’ve ever made and constantly requested at family functions! (Recipe here.)
6. Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Bars
Here’s an idiot-proof recipe that you can hand off to even the most baking-illiterate of your friends! These one-bowl, dump-and-stir chocolate chip oat bars are healthy, too, making them perfect for kicking off a brand new year. (Recipe here.)
5. Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake
This recipe holds a special place in my heart: inspired by one late-night, post-movie dinner conversation at Lenny’s Deli, my ex shared his fond memories of a dessert known as Chantilly cake.… Read more
In a way, it’s a bittersweet feeling to sit down and write what I suddenly realize will be my final (dedicated) post about my travel in Europe this summer. It’s been over two months since I returned from the final leg of my visit in Italy, yet it’s hard to imagine how differently my summer would have panned out–how different everything might be right now–if I hadn’t decided 5 months ago to take this trip. So with a bowl of this creamy mushroom risotto in hand (it’s one of my favorite Italian dishes and not as difficult to make as it sounds, as long as you’re patient–you can find the recipe at the bottom of this article), I wanted to spend this post reflecting on a few important lessons that I learned from my summer visit abroad.
What I learned during my three weeks in Europe:
1. Take the road less traveled. One of the main reasons that I wanted to take this trip in the first place was to experience something completely new and outside of my comfort zone. Unlike most vacations that I’ve taken in the past, this sojourn was carefully engineered to include both a healthy mix of tourist destinations and some wildly unfamiliar places that I never would have visited otherwise. My decision to visit Alex in Cork and Alessio in Putignano, in particular, was motivated by the fact that I knew nothing about either of those places and would be a complete stranger to the regions when I arrived. Allowing myself to be more spontaneous than I usually am and simply experience these places with no expectations not only opened up new opportunities, but also helped me appreciate every single moment for what it was.
2. Surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you and are happy just to see you happy, not because they want something out of it in return.… Read more
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #20MinutesToTasty #CollectiveBias
I’m taking a break from talking your ears off about my Europe trip today to tell you all about what went down this Halloween weekend with this mm-mazing Creamy Tomato Penne Pasta with Jalapeno Poppers! (Which, I suppose, is Italian food, so I suppose we’re still talking about Italy today. Bite me, Italy rocks.)
This weekend we invited over our new “global siblings” family for a Halloween potluck & party. The fam is part of a program that helps international and domestic students connect throughout the year in an open, welcoming environment, and this year Anson & I are co-coordinators for our 30-sib group! About twenty of us crammed ourselves into my cozy apartment on Saturday night, dressed to the nines in pirate gear and oblique Game of Thrones costumes involving dragons. We all had such a blast, getting to know each other and mingling and chowing down and, in typical grad student fashion, drinking. Four hours prior, however, the fun had already begun–A had brought his bluetooth speakers and we were jamming out to 80s dance music in my kitchen while exchanging costumes (I was young Ellie from Up, he had a kangaroo onesie) and cooking up a storm with this bomb-amazing pasta!
Diligently preparing pasta–perfect for entertaining season!–for our sibling potluck
One of the things that I love most about this pasta is that, amidst all the bustle and business of trying to get ready in time for the family party and the rest of the entertaining season, it only took 20 minutes to make from start to finish. Knowing under what time crunch we’d be operating on Saturday afternoon, I had made a trip over to Walmart the day before to grab a box of Farm Rich jalapeno poppers and another of breaded mushrooms in the frozen food aisle of the store, thinking that I’d toss them into one of our pasta potluck dishes. … Read more
Italy was a world in and of itself. I had visited Rome and Venice once in seventh grade, but this trip–taken nearly 14 years later–was something special. After a one-day layover from Ireland to England, I hopped on a plane that would take me to the final part of my Europe trip in the south of Italy. Bari, where the airport is located, is about an hour north of Putignano, a quiet town with a population of about 28,000 and home to Italy’s oldest annual Carnival. My friend Alessio picked me up from the airport and we took a tour of Bari (complete, of course, with my first taste of authentic Italian gelato) before heading south to the large countryside home where we would be staying for the week.
As a girl who can barely afford 500 square feet of living space in cramped Los Angeles, the idea of living in a second home in the country three months out of the year was completely unfathomable to me. When we rumbled up the narrow dirt lane that led to Alessio’s house that evening and his family came out onto the beautiful stone-laid patio to greet us, however, I could feel blissful imagination meld into a reality more romantic than anything that I could have dreamed up on my own. The country home was a converted ranch with a rustic outdoor seating area, several well-tended gardens bordering the patio, and rolling fields of grass that stretched to the outer edges of the property. … Read more
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeGameTimeSaucy#CollectiveBias
Ha–I did it! After five years of avoiding the Rose Bowl like the plague, I finally hitched up my shorts two weeks ago and attended my first-ever grad school football game. Since our team was playing my alma mater’s rival, I was doubly invested and ready to shout as loudly as I could about “taking off that red shirt,” if ya know what I mean. Plus who doesn’t love a socially acceptable excuse to be obnoxious and rambunctious and generally just a tad madwomanish?
As it turns out, the weather on game day was insanely sweltering and, as our seats in the student section were full-blast under the sun, a few of us ended up spending the entire first quarter wandering around outside and looking for food instead of actually watching the game. This meant that we missed the only touchdown of the entire game, scored by yours truly–er, well, until the other team scored not one, but TWO touchdowns in the final 2 minutes of the game. Derp. My friend was majorly upset (it was her first-ever football game), and my dad texted me right after the game because he simply could not stop cracking up at our misery. “Heart broken loss,” his message read. Annnnd to me this is why food > football forever, hands down.
Speaking of food and football games, though, there is one reason why I still love the sport even though my team is a heartbreaking hot mess on the field this season sometimes disappoints me. In my book, you can never go wrong on any occasion where all sorrows can be drowned in food, food, food. To celebrate the start of a new season, I popped down to Walmart the following weekend for a few game day edibles and ended up snagging a bag of chips, some corn tortillas, a few blocks of cream cheese, and a bottle of mild Pace® Picante for that extra flavor kick.… Read more
Guess who’s back, back again? I’ll give you a hint: it’s this girl, and she’s back all the way from beeeeautiful Europe!
Okay, that was more of an answer than a hint–BUT only because I’m seriously excited to share all of my adventures with you. As I mentioned in my penultimate post, travel planning for this three-week trip had basically swallowed up my life (and the better part of my sanity) in the months leading up to August, so getting in the groove of blogging again is a super squeal-worthy enterprise. In fact, I got so ahead of myself that the first thing I did after hopping off my 12-hour flight was barrel into the grocery store to pick up a few A LOT of fresh ingredients and start cooking.
There’s really nothing like a month away from home to make you fall madly in love with your kitchen again!
But more on Europe later, because first I want to tell you all about this quinoa salad. Does it look innocuous and unassuming to you? HA!
But also not sorry, because it’s seriously great stuff. The tangy flavors of lemon and rice vinegar in the dressing blend perfectly with the subtly earthy taste of cumin, the nuttiness of sliced almonds, the freshness of chopped tomatoes, and the sweetness of raisins. After three weeks of basically eating my heart out in delicious, occasionally coma-inducing bliss through England, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy, I simply couldn’t wait to create a homemade dish full of greens and vegan-friendly produce. Luckily, I kept a running memo pad throughout my travels of dishes that I wanted to try making (you’ll see them over the next few weeks!), and quinoa salad was at the top of my list. Can you guess where I was inspired?… Read more
If you were standing in my apartment earlier this morning, that would have been the inarticulate sound from the kitchen.
Now before you panic (oh my god, there’s a MANDOLIN SLICER in her photos!!!), I can assure you that it wasn’t a scream of pain.
No, my friends–that was a shriek of pure joy issuing in glass-shattering pitch as I played with my newest kitchen toy. And I am so so so excited to share it with all of you today–can you tell?
OXO recently sent me another lovely bundle for my pasta-making lazy days: this Adjustable Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, a Grape & Tomato Cutter, and a beautifully sturdy Rice & Grains Washing Colander with a draining spout near the top edge for easy pouring. Now as a gal who doesn’t often indulge in acquiring “kitchen gadgets” (okay, maybe the bread maker I got for Christmas is an exception. And the confectioner’s sugar dusting wand. And the Mickey Mouse ice cream scoop….oh fine, I love kitchen gadgets), the arrival of these wonderful toys via mail could only mean one thing: pasta play day!
By noontime, thinly sliced zucchini was sizzling on the stovetop and my pasta was happily draining al dente in its colander. With all of the craziness happening around here lately, it was a relief to just spend an hour in the kitchen cooking, slicing, photographing, and–best of all–eating a truly homecooked meal.
Even I was surprised at how fresh this whole meal tasted–with whole wheat pasta, lightly cooked zucchini, quartered cherry tomatoes, a dollop of marinara sauce, and a sprinkling of assorted cheeses, this pasta is giving me the physical, emotional, and mental fuel to get through the rest of this crazy day (I’m currently preparing a guest lecture for Tuesday’s English survey course and am slightly freaking out, but don’t mind me).… Read more