Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

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A tropical breakfast to warm up the chilliest of winter mornings

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

10-grain cereal with pineapple, coconut and cashews

I’m still going strong on the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse and I have to say that the best part has been breaking out of my breakfast rut. For the past year my weekday breakfast has involved the same routine: a whole grain English muffin, toasted, slathered with peanut butter and a bit of honey. And it’s done me well — it’s a nice mix of protein, carbs and sweetness to get my day started.

But over the last 10 days, not being able to indulge in refined flours, I’ve had to mix things up.

My first experience with a breakfast from the cleanse resulted in the awesome discovery of quinoatmeal. After I polished off the last of that, I moved onto a new porridge in the form of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. This is a blend of everything from millet and barley to brown rice and oat bran. It all cooks happily together in a matter of ten minutes or so.

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Quinoatmeal: A protein powerhouse of a breakfast

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk and Cinnamon

As far as cleanses go, the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse is an easy one for me to follow. They know their audience well — the 14-day eating plan allows for four cocktails a week and gives the exception for a morning cup of coffee. Which is good news for me because two weeks without caffeine would lead me into a deep dark place that even sprouted lentils couldn’t save me from.

I’m also very thankful that the recipes that Bon Appetit included in the cleanse are (so far) very good. I made this lovely and filling quinoa-oatmeal for Day 4 and was incredibly happy with how it turned out.

The quinoa is rinsed and left to soak overnight with steel-cut oats, reducing the morning cooking time. The next day, the mixture is brought to a boil. Add in some almond milk, cinnamon and salt and after 10 minutes, breakfast is ready! I topped my bowl (as recommended) with toasted pecans and half a cup of shredded apple for sweetness.

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk

Apple Pecan Quinoatmeal with Almond Milk

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Ultimate Autumn Breakfast: Apple Oven (Pan)Cake

Apple Oven Cake

Apple Oven Cake w. Powdered Sugar

I was leafing through Sunset magazine a week or so ago when a recipe for an Apple Oven Cake jumped out at me. Given my fixation on apple cider and butter, it’s a no-brainer that something involving apples and cake would be at the top of my fall baking list. However, my plans for it were a little off base.

Somehow I missed that this cake is more of a puffed pancake (a la Dutch baby) than a cake-cake. Good thing I read the reviews before I started baking because this isn’t the sort of cake that gets better as it sits! Oh no, it’s best eaten right out of the oven, spoonful after spoonful, while it deflates like a fallen souffle.

So while I had planned to ply my co-workers with apple-filled goodness, I baked this warm, caramel-y treat for my husband instead. It was a lazy Sunday morning and we had a long hard day of wine tasting ahead of us. I thought this apple cake would make the perfect (and filling!) fall brunch.

And this time around, I was right on track.

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Was it Worth it: Is Julia’s banana bread really the best?

Julia's Best Banana Bread

  • The Background: My love for cooking magazines is well-known so it’s no surprise that this recipe is straight from Bon Appetit (March 2013). What might actually surprise you is that my fellow-blogger Liz from Food For Fun/deLizious food communications beat me to making it! Her post/recipe review, found here, is what inspired me to make this banana bread immediately instead of letting the recipe get buried in my pile of things to make “someday.”

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The perfect spring-time salad and cooking for catharsis

Spring Asparagus Panzanella

Spring Asparagus Panzanella Salad with Radishes, Eggs and Pecorino

Two weeks ago my Easter plans were pretty loose — mainly revolving around the couch, a cat on my lap and maybe some bubbly in my hand. But things can change quickly. My grandfather, who was six months from his 98th birthday, suddenly became very ill and passed away last Thursday. Now I rarely get overly personal in these posts and I certainly don’t intend this one to get weepy, but I will say it’s been a very difficult week.

Luckily, I live close enough to my grandparents that I visited them as often as I could. And so after I heard the news, I packed up a bag and headed north to see my family. Many family members had made the pilgrimage, first to visit with him, and then to help plan the memorial. This was how I ended up cooking Easter dinner for nine last Sunday.

It was actually the perfect way to spend the day. For me cooking is a peaceful endeavor and it was nice not only to have a distraction but also a sense of purpose. And being surrounded by family as everyone traded stories about my grandfather (and discussed how people get famous from YouTube videos) was undoubtedly the best place to be.

Losing people you love is always hard. It was especially devastating for me to say good bye to the man who taught me to play cribbage, made me learn to use the brakes on my bike (long story!) and walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. But we honor these people with stories, recalling their memories to help continue their legacies.

To lighten things up, I’m going to tell you one of the more amusing stories being passed around over the weekend:

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