at the county fair: mexican grilled corn

At the Fair: Mexican Grilled Corn

While grilled corn is delicious with just some butter and sea salt, try this Mexican version, called elote, grilled corn that is smothered in crema Mexicana or mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder seasoning, and freshly-squeezed lime.  This is a popular snack sold by street vendors in Mexico.  Some ingredients are Mexican staples but are widely available in grocery stores and Hispanic markets here in the US. 

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at the county fair: corn dogs

Corn Dogs

Let me tell you what I love about summer.

I love the sunny days that seem to last forever. I love going to the beach and the feeling of sand between my toes and the warmth of the sun against my skin. I love the coconut scent of my sunscreen. I love wearing fun, flirty dresses and flip flops and big straw hats.

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chocolate, peanut butter, and banana smoothie

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana Smoothie

Last summer, I got on a big popsicle kick, making all kinds of, mostly boozy, ice pops (here, here, herehere, and here). So far this summer, I am in a smoothie-making mood. There are so many flavors I want to make and share with you, but the first one I want to feature is one of my absolute favorites – the Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana Smoothie.

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roasted strawberries, nutella, and brie sandwich

Roasted Strawberries, Nutella, and Brie Sandwich

I am completely smitten with strawberries, so I’m glad that strawberry season is finally in full swing. I just can’t get enough of these sweet, luscious fruit right now.  I love eating them fresh with my morning yogurt, but I have been thinking about how to use them a little more creatively. My first attempt was the strawberry-tomato salsa paired with corn cakes you may remember from a few posts back.  That one turned out quite well so I’m at it again.

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strawberry rhubarb mini-tarts

Strawberry Rhubarb Mini-Tarts

I don’t often repeat things on the blog, but I love the concept of tarts made with puff pastry so much that I made another version, this time with a strawberry and rhubarb filling. These simple and easy to make tarts come together quickly once the sheet of frozen puff pastry is thawed, so these mini-tarts are great if you’re pinched for time. The best part is that they’re absolutely delicious. I love the flaky layers of dough as the base for tart rhubarb, sweet strawberries, and an almond crumble flavored with a hint of cinnamon. There’s also a hidden layer of orange-scented cream cheese on the bottom that gives these mini-tarts a touch of creaminess.

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grilled artichokes with shishito pepper aioli

Grilled Artichokes with Shishito Pepper Aioli

Growing up, I wasn’t a particularly picky eater. Like many kids, I just didn’t like vegetables. I would always grumble at my mom’s insistence that I eat something green and/or leafy. Thank goodness she never made me sit at the dinner table until I finished all my vegetables because I would most likely have sat there until I turned 18. I’m proud to say that I’ve come a long way since then. I am certainly much better at eating vegetables now. In fact, I enjoy eating a variety of them and even grow some in my garden.

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corn cakes with strawberry and tomato salsa

Corn Cakes wth Strawberry-Tomato Salsa

Thanks to the abundant sunshine, fertile soil, and cool coastal breezes, farmers up and down the state of California are able to grow a huge variety of crops, many of which are shipped all over the country. We are fortunate to live here in Southern California, where we have access to many of these locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of them, such as those featured in today’s recipe, are at their peak of flavor during the late spring to early summer.

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black velvet apricot and rhubarb tart

Black Velvet Apricot and Rhubarb Tart

One of the things I do to find food inspiration is to go to Whole Foods Market’s produce section. It’s big, brightly lit, and full of the most perfect and beautiful fruits and vegetables. The prices can be a bit steep, but I love perusing its aisles looking for interesting ingredients. There is always one aisle that has something different, at least to me. Over the last year, I’ve found red currants, gooseberries, passionfruit, and other items not commonly found in Southern California grocery stores. And, did I mention that I have a crush on one of the produce guys there? Continue reading

baked buffalo wings with celery and blue cheese slaw

Buffalo Wings with Celery & Blue Cheese Slaw

A couple of weeks ago, I attended Camp Blogaway, a conference for food and recipe bloggers run by Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk. Special thanks to Christina Peters, of MDR Photography Classes, for telling me about the camp in the first place, and for graciously sponsoring me to attend. The camp, limited to about 100 bloggers, speakers, and sponsors, is held annually at Camp de Benneville Pines, located at about 6,800 feet in elevation in the picturesque San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California. All weekend long, we heard from top notch speakers who spoke about their careers in food, their experiences writing cookbooks and e-books, and their experiences working with PR agencies, literary agents, and brands.

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white sangria ice pops

White Sangria Ice Pops

While it is still a few weeks until the official start of summer, beach weather is already upon us here in Southern California.  So this morning, I took a little time out from all the household chores and errands to relax and enjoy the moment. Don’t you just love “me” time?  I grabbed a couple of beach towels, sunscreen, and some magazines, and headed out….to my backyard.  Fortunately for me, when going to the beach isn’t an option, I can still enjoy the sunshine and the slightest of ocean breezes right in my own backyard. No crowds. No traffic or parking hassles. No sand to make a mess. Just peace and quiet, except for the lyrical chirping of the birds fleeting about.

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spiced cocktail nuts

spiced cocktail nuts

As a kid, I used to love those mixed nuts that came in a big can. My mom would buy the one with the peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. We each had our favorites. I would fight one brother for those enormous brazil nuts and the other for hazelnuts, but my absolute favorites were the cashews. Both my mom and I loved them. When the can eventually got passed to my dad, he had to settle for the peanuts and almonds. The pecans were almost always left on the bottom.

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vanilla bean custard with roasted berries

Vanilla  Bean Custard with Roasted Berries

Every cook should have a homemade custard recipe in his or her repertoire.  It is the base for so many desserts and yet, is fairly simple to master.  The key is to temper the eggs with the milk so you don’t end up with bits of scrambled eggs.

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angel food cupcakes with strawberry meringue

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Meringue

When life gives you egg whites, make angel food cake. When life gives you a whole lot of egg whites, top the angel food cake with meringue.

Yesterday, I planned to make vanilla custard but hadn’t really thought about what to do with all the remaining egg whites. I briefly contemplated making an egg white frittata, but I quickly came to my senses, and, thanks to Alton Brown, came up with the far better idea of making my first ever angel food cake. However, since I don’t own a tube pan, I scaled down the recipe to make these cute little mini angel food cupcakes instead.

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