I hope that you are all having a wonderful All Hallows' Eve!

xo,

Madeline

 
 

My favorite season by far is autumn. I love the changing colors, the brisk mornings, and the cozy clothes. Unfortunately in Los Angeles fall and summer seem to meld together. Therefore, each year my family and I pack up the car and head to Kern River for a long weekend. With warm days, cool nights, campfires, and fishing, camping in Kern is just what the doctor prescribes.

More pictures will be posted as soon as I get back but, for now here is one of my favorites so far. I hope that everyone takes a moment to enjoy fall wherever they are.

I
 

Orlando

10/24/2013

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A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando, Florida. While normally I would be averse to the idea of Florida (read: humidity and alligators), the chance to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter persuaded me. I have to say that despite the humidity which was truly awful, the trip was amazing. I stayed with my mom at The Peabody now Hyatt Regency- Convention Center which was beautiful and absolutely huge. Trying to make the most of our time there, my mother and I went to three different theme parks: Disney Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center, and Universal's Islands of Adventure. The first was a total bust and seemed like they took the weird attractions that failed in other Disney parks and combined them into one. Although, I must say, their light/water show Fantasmic was truly great in that it was so bizarre and unpredictable that I was laughing the whole time. On Friday, with the afternoon free, we headed over to Epcot where it just so happened that our trip coincided with their Food and Wine Festival. Epcot Center is truly a unique experience. While the front resembles Disneyland's Tomorrow Land, the back and bulk of the park is World Showcase. The showcase is the best part and has 11 different areas or 'countries' which is show the culture and cuisine of  Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Because of the food and wine festival there were an additional twenty different stalls around the area which had little appetizers and wine pairings. The detail that went into the building of the park was amazing from the Chinese temple to the stone buildings of Morocco was fascinating. 
The next day, which was in my opinion the best day, we went to Universal for Harry Potter world and let me tell you , it did not disappoint. As soon as we entered through the archway it was like being in Hogsmeade, except it was hot, humid, and full of tourists. Anyways, we ducked into The Three Broomsticks for lunch and had our first taste of frozen butterbeer and it was AMAZING. Think a cream soda slushie with a frothy butterscotch on top..... mmmmm. After that we went back out and entered Nerdvana. From Honeydukes' chocolate frogs to Dervish and Banges' robes and wands to the ATM being housed in Gringots and a Moaning Myrtle soundtrack playing in the bathroom, it was all spot on. Having grown up reading Harry Potter, I think that most of the joy that I felt was seeing and experiencing the locations and items that I had only read about in the books. I remember my mom reading me the first two books when I was in first and second grade and being able to read the third when I was in third grade. As the characters and books maturede in age and content so did I. It was like I grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. 
As if the day couldn't get any better, that night we got last minute tickets to see Blue Man Group which has been a dream of my mothers since they first came out. All I really knew about them was that they played music on PVC pipes and that there was some sort of paint splatter involved. Entering not really knowing what was going to happen and having my expectations on the low side ensured that I was constantly surprised. There were points when I was laughing so hard that my eyes were watering and others when my mouth fell open in awe. I'm not going to give anything else away but encourage you strongly to go if the opportunity should present itself. 
The next day we flew home and just in time to miss the heavy rain and increased humidity that I had been dreading the whole trip. Hahahha!

 
 
Fall is in the air, and that means, once again, it’s that time of year when nothing’s safe from being pumpkinized. From pop-tarts and pringles to vodka and candles, the air smells of pumpkin spice. I surprisingly am not one to try out these products and am a traditionalist when it comes to pumpkin in the sense that unless it is in a pie, bread, or carved and sitting on your porch, I don't really want any of it... at all. I must say though that last weekend, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I had this sudden urge to make something involving pumpkin. It may have been a result from all of those Starbucks pumpkin spice latte commercials or the fact that Halloween is right around the corner but, I NEEDED pumpkin. So here it is, a pumpkin recipe that is a mixture between a pie and a bar. Crumbly, buttery, and with a hint of cream cheese these bars are sure to please many at any holiday party. 

 
 
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This week has been crazy and hectic. Between camping and balancing classes and work, there has been little time for much else. On days like these it is hard not to just reach out to unhealthy and fast meals. So, for those of you who can spare a half hour to cook dinner, this recipe is for you. The recipe is simple: gingery meat and a cucumber salad wrapped up in pita bread. The ginger and sweet plum sauce combine nicely with the tangy and spicy cucumbers. You can use either normal pitas or smaller ones. I tend to lean toward the latter in this recipe as it makes them more like asian tacos rather than sandwiches. I also like to top each with a little sriracha- just trust me.   Adapted from RealSimple magazine.


 
 
During autumn and winter, french cuisine is in it prime. It's probably due to the rich, comforting nature of French food, made with lots of cheese, lots of meat, and lots of wine. Mmmmm. My particularly favorite dish is french onion soup, made deeply flavorful by slow-caramelized onions and hints of fresh thyme. The best (and in my mind, only) way to serve it is with a fresh baguette and melted gruyere. For many Americans, soup alone does not a meal make, so I recommend serving it with a light vinaigrette salad or small appetizer. 


 
 
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Meatloaf is the ultimate comfort food. Unlike most people who grew up eating the traditional oven baked and ketchup-covered meatloaves, in my house meatloaf was smoked and you would receive an exasperated sigh if you so much as put meatloaf and ketchup on the same plate (that didn't and doesn't stop me from doing it anyway). So here it is, a meatloaf that is smoked to perfection and chocked full of onions, mushrooms, and italian sausage. Serve with mashed potatoes and you my friend have a perfect cold weather dinner. 
 If you do find yourself with leftovers, my recommendation is grilled meatloaf sandwiches. Think of a patty melt but better. This recipe is easy: swiss cheese, rye bread and a thin slice of warmed meatloaf. Spread butter on the outside of the sandwich and grill until cheese has melted and rye is toasty. 


 
 
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At my house, when it comes to Mexican food, there is one condiment that trumps them all: a good green salsa. We usually buy ours from a little Mexican market here in Pasadena but, with the amount that we go through, making our own is a better option economically. While I was at least skeptical of making my own (the salsa at this place is really good) it came out pretty darn good. You can really adjust the recipe around depending on what you want. If you like it spicy, you can a few extra jalapenos and leave in the seeds. It also depends upon the chiles themselves as the spiciness varies from pepper to pepper. I recommend serving it with a crunchy and salty tortilla chips or on top of grilled shrimp tacos. 



 
 
One of my favorite fall/winter meals is a bowl of steaming chili and a slice of warm cornbread. While it may be my favorite meal, the recipe that I usually make bores my father. So, this week I decided to try out a new one that used one of his favorite ingredients: chipotle. I have to say that my old recipe was blown out of the water. The smokiness of the chipotle combined with the tang of a little lime juice and the fresh flavor of the cilantro work together to create a truly great dish. I recommend topping it with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro, shredded cheese, and diced red onion. Mix everything together and the umami of flavors is sure to wow.  

 
 
Sorry for the lapse in posts! I really have no excuse except that August was full of trips, saying goodbye to friends before they left for school, and getting ready for classes. Now that school has started, I've been busy with classes and work. 
I made this salad during the summer with my friend Marisol. While I was initially skeptical of the combination of peaches and quinoa, the sweet and savory truly make the salad quite delicious.