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!

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. 

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. 

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

Despite climbing temperatures and a mounting pile of work, this afternoon, like most afternoons, I decided that the answer to my problems was baking. For the past few days I have been eyeing different brownie recipes but the thought of all of that butter and sugar, no matter how delicious it would be, was keeping me at bay. After a disastrous experience yesterday in which I decided to improve and 'loosely interpret' a chocolate cookie recipe - i.e. me not having enough butter for the recipe and reading somewhere that Greek yogurt could be used as its substitute - I decided that I should just bite the bullet and whip up a pan full of delicious chocolate treats. 
While looking up recipes online I came across one on The Well Traveled Wife for coconut brownies. Instead of using butter, coconut oil acts as a wonderful substitute. Unlike many brownie recipes that I have made before which require the browning of butter in a saucepan and a million different steps and ingredients, this one is a one bowl kind of treat. 
I played around with the recipe a little bit and cut the sugar down from 2 cups to 1 1/2. I also substituted regular white flour for whole wheat. The addition of shredded coconut is a nice change and adds a little extra crunch to the bars. I would also highly recommend letting them cool for about fifteen minutes or longer in order to let them sit and come together. 
While not as fudgy and decadent as other brownies, these were pretty good. So good in fact, that my father who usually scoffs at the idea of cutting back on butter, finished his piece in three minutes flat. No joke. Plus the fact that they are healthy- as healthy as a brownie can be - makes them all that much sweeter.