Picture
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. 

 
 
Picture
A few days ago my neighbor brought over a 10 lb. bar of milk chocolate, I think that the only logical response to that is some truly delicious brownies. You've already seen my recipe for healthy brownies and now its time for something a little more decadent.



 
 
Sometimes there is nothing better than a good chicken salad. With so many different variations out there, it is hard to wrong. After trying out a couple of different recipes, I took my favorite parts from each and made one of my own. This is an easy salad to make on a ISunday and keep it in the fridge for a healthy lunch option during the week. 
For the chicken, you can use canned, grilled, or boiled - it really just depends on your preference. I prefer to use leftover chicken that has been grilled with a little lemon and tarragon. As for the vegetables, I use Trader Joe's Healthy 8 chopped veggie mix as it's easier and cheaper than buying each vegetable individually. I used to loath the idea of mixing fruit with savory but, in this case, the cranberries add another layer to the flavor of the salad. Hope you enjoy!

 
 
Picture
There's nothing more American than pie, right? Especially when it's red, white, and blue. In honor of our nations birthday I decided to make a rustic berry pie, rustic in that there is no pie pan involved. For the crust the only tools you need is a food processor. I highly recommend throwing in finely chopped candied ginger into the dough as it plays nicely off of the lemon and berries.  For the filling I used a mixture of strawberries and blueberries but if you so desire, four cups of blueberries or raspberries* are great substitutes. Not only is this pie easy, but also absolutely delicious! 



 
 
Picture
Growing up I hated oatmeal cookies. I cared little for the texture and forget about the raisins. Lately though, my taste buds have apparently altered and I cannot get enough of them! This recipe is by far the best I have tried. Chewy and at the same time delicate, these are sure to receive rave reviews from whoever takes a bite. I personally prefer to add dried cranberries to the dough but raisins or walnuts would also be good. 


 
 
Picture
Growing up, pancakes were a treat. When I could talk my mom into making them, she and I would bring out the Bisquik and an old and creased recipe from a magazine long ago forgotten. It varied little from the original recipe on the back of the box but included lemon and a touch of lemon, sugar, and baking powder. I remember smiling as I went outside to pick a Meyer lemon from our tree, the happiness resulting not only from the fluffy pancakes I saw on the horizon, but from cooking with my mom. 

A few days ago while looking through some recipes online, I came across one for whole-wheat pancakes. I have to say that these are even better than I was expecting (the adjectives delicious and scrumptious come to mind). A bonus is that due to the whole-wheat flour, they are high in fiber, meaning that they will keep you full for most of the day! Denser than your typical buttermilk pancake, these pancakes are a great base for a number of add-ins. I personally chose to add in slices of banana to half of the batter and wish I had put them in all of them. Whether you choose to eat them plain, add in blueberries, strips of bacon, chocolate chips, or like me, banana, these are sure to please!



 
 
Picture
With summer officially here, meals that require little time standing in front of a hot stove and more time outside enjoying the weather are a must. This recipe for Mediterranean couscous salad is one such recipe. It can be prepared ahead of time and left to chill, which makes it a great dish for a low maintenance meal. Couscous is really a great base for many different additions due to its versatility; you can serve it cold, room temperature, or hot. You can make an Italian variation by serving it with olive oil, parmesan, and chopped flat-leaf parsley or like I did, a Mediterranean blend that will be sure to please. 


 
 
And the heat continues! With rising temperatures and heavy humidity, summer is hitting Southern California hard. Unlike some people who relish the heat and bask in the sun, I hate it, nay, despise it. With an expected temperature of 104 this weekend and the knowledge that this is just the first of many heat waves that will plague us this summer, finding activities that one can do whilst sitting in front of the fan and/or air conditioner is a necessity. With baking and painting out of the question (paint dries way too quickly while sitting in front a fan – imagine that!) I decided to try making some simple pieces of jewelry, read - nothing that requires numerous different specialty tools. After an overwhelming trip to a local art and crafts store I decided to whip up a few pairs of earrings. 

Note that I am in no way a master in terms of making jewelry, but as long as it holds and looks presentable, it is good enough for me. So here is a step-by-step process for making your very own earrings. 



What you will need

1. Two 2-inch Headpins

2. Two earwires (I used satin-gold-plated with soldered ball ends)

3. Whatever beads you so desire – I used:
  •  2 10mm flat glossy black
  •  2 4mm round beads
  •  2 vintage hollow beads

4. A pair of round nosed pliers

5. A pair of wire cutters

First arrange your beads into whichever order you so desire on your headpins, leaving some space for bending and wrapping.

Next, take your round nosed pliers and make a bend. Now, using your wire cutters, cut to allow approximately 1 centimeter past the bend. 

Picture
Using your pliers bend the wire to create a loop with the remaining wire sticking out 90 degrees.


Twist the wire around the straight of the headpin using the pliers, trying to get it as tight and secure as possible. While maybe not as perfect and straight as some earrings, to me, as long as they hold, they are golden. 

Picture
Slip the loop through your earwires and you are ready to go!


xo,
Madeline