Winding Down Summer


Like a true Californian, I want all the perks of fall time without the weather becoming too much colder. We have some exiting things coming up like : a double date with our friends, an Ohio State football game, and apple picking. I’m looking forward to these events, though still wishing that the warm weather won’t be leaving us.


Even though I have grown quite fond of the Buckeye state, it is hard for me to reconcile with the impending doom of winter. Earlier in the week, my mom sent me a picture of a shirt that said: “I bake because punching people is frowned upon.” I, of course, laughed… but then I thought a little deeper about it and my love for baking. When the weather changes, I really do go into baking mode, and you can find me in the kitchen almost every day working on a new treat. I always thought that it was because I liked to be by the warm oven while it is cooling off outside. Here is my new theory though, the kitchen is where my expertise in baking collides with irreconcilable mourning of summer.

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I don’t know how or when I will stop longing for sunshine. Of course, I am the one who made the decision to stay out here in Ohio, so there must have been a good reason for leaving California. But like most decisions, we forget why we make the changes we do. We choose to see the past through the most flattering of lenses. Even though I know this, the weather still tugs on my heart strings and makes me question where I live and why I can’t go back to the golden state. So, I bake. I measure, I read recipes, I focus… it is where what I don’t know collides with what I do know.


My mind is clear when I am in the kitchen. I carefully read instructions, take care when using specific tools, and improve my technique when I can. Baking is some thing that, when you follow the instructions and do the best you can, you will always get a perfect result. In life, [or at least in my own life] the reaction is almost always opposite. You can try your best, do every thing “right” and things may still not work out. I can control the speed on my mixer, but what I can’t control is every element affecting my everyday life. And so, I bake…

Back in the Kitchen



Unfortunately, it had been a couple weeks since I cooked an entire meal from scratch. This week we ended up with apples, onions, and pork chops that needed to be used, so what a perfect storm for Martha Stewart’s Pork chop recipe with apples and onions! I’ve posted the recipe before, so I won’t waste your time with a repeat post… but as I was cooking in the kitchen, I genuinely felt happy.


For most people, cooking is a chore and some thing to dread at the end of a day. It seems for me, that the more exhausted I am, the more I seek solace in the kitchen. In a lot of ways it is a creative outlet, as well as being an opportunity for me to provide some thing for my family. Plus, I love cooking infinitely more in my new, gorgeous kitchen. I am particularly fond of my ovens [now that I learned how to use them]. I mean, check out these beautiful golden-brown potatoes… Thank you, broil! 13567395_10153734747861239_721275762438517242_n

It has been an exhausting week. I started taking Zumba classes, I have been running errands with the girls, going to doctors appointments, and every thing else life throws at us on any given week. Cooking and working out have really helped me from feeling overwhelmed. Photography has helped, too, especially when I have such an adorable model. J surprised me with tickets to see The Shallows tonight, so I have an unexpected date to look forward too. Yes, this week has been tough but also rewarding in so many little ways. I hope yours has been too!






Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

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Did you know Thanksgiving is only NINE days away?! Mamas are busy ladies, and it’s understandable that we end up unprepared during most of the holiday season. These important meals sneak up on you, and there’s panic when you realize you have no plan for what to bring.

I’ve only hosted Thanksgiving once, but since becoming a married woman, I feel it’s one of my responsibilities as a member of the family to bring something to Thanksgiving dinner. Growing up, you usually have 1-3 women who do ALL the cooking for 30 people. When you’re excuse is being a 10 year old kid, ok don’t pitch in, but once you have your own job and apartment, it’s time to bring some thing to Thanksgiving dinner. I felt I had even less of an excuse not to contribute when I was a newlywed, and all the women of the family had just spent hundreds of dollars on getting me kitchen supplies. It was time to put those handy tools and supplies to work!

Anyway, in light of the fast approaching holiday, I wanted to share my greatest Thanksgiving hits with you. It’s intimidating to share a recipe with family for the first time, especially during such an important meal. These recipes are pretty easy and don’t require too many ingredients. So, if you still don’t know what you’re bringing to Thanksgiving, hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes – I brought these to my first Thanksgiving ever, with J’s family. If you’ve never brought anything to a Thanksgiving dinner before, you can’t go wrong with dessert! Since it was the first time I had ever spent Thanksgiving with a family other than my own, I wasn’t sure who typically brought what. I knew that in my family, certain members were known for certain dishes [everyone LOVES my Aunt Julie’s rolls, and Grandpa always did the gravy, etc.] so I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes by attempting a traditional side-dish. This recipe is delicious and a great alternative to having too many pies.

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Sweet potato hash – My second year with J’s family, was our first Thanksgiving as Mr & Mrs. I felt more confident to bring a dish to go with dinner, so I brought this sweet potato hash. My first year, I noticed that his family only did the sweet potatoes with marshmallow on top, so I thought I’d bring a savory version too. It was a big hit! Not to mention, a healthy hit, too! This recipe is a vegetarian version, but you can swap out the veggie patties for sausage patties and it tastes GREAT.

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Spinach Salad with pear and cranberry – I have to admit, while I found this recipe on my own, I was attempting to imitate a salad my Aunt Julie would bring to either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. When I was younger I thought the only dressing that could go on a salad was ranch. In the name of trying new things, I picked up a scoop of her sweet, fruity salad and immediately fell in love. I knew that the first Thanksgiving dinner I hosted, this side would definitely have to be on the table. I was cooking for 20+ traditional Italians and I wasn’t sure how a salad without Italian dressing would do with J’s crowd. Luckily, everyone LOVED it! In fact, I completely ran out of salad as people were asking for second and third helpings.

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Cornbread stuffing – For the most part, I try to stick to a gluten free diet… but around the holidays that can get pretty tough! Once I found Martha Stewart’s cornbread stuffing, it was a total game changer. I LOVE this recipe, and so did the rest of the family. I was able to make it gluten free by making my own corn bread from scratch, but you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want depending on how much time you actually end up having.

Those are by far the best recipes I’ve ever brought to Thanksgiving dinners in the past. Like I said, if you have extra time or are feeling especially domestic, you can personalize these recipes as little or as much as you want to! For the salad, I make my own candied pecans to sprinkle on top and some times, I even make the dressing from scratch. Hopefully some of these recipes inspire you and take some of the stress out of planning for the big turkey dinner next Thursday! Good Luck!



This guac is SO good, we made it twice in 3 days. The first time, we shared it with friends over dinner, the next time we hoarded it all for ourselves. So, in honor of our trip to California, I want to share my favorite guacamole recipe with you all. \


What you need:
-4 avocados
-1/2 c. of onion
-3 Tbs of cilantro
-1 jalapeno
-2 roma tomatos
-1/2 lime


Cut avocados in half and carefully remove the pits. Cube the avocado, scoop out of the skin and place in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice from half the lime over the avocado and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat. Smash avocado with fork. Finely chop the rest of the ingredients and fold into the avocado mixture. Serve with tortilla chips! Personally, we put a dollop on top of some piping hot quesadillas. Enjoy!




Don’t let the name scare you, these delicious morsels are the Filipino version of an egg roll and they are DELICIOUS. When people think of San Diego, they think “Mexican,” but there is such a huge variety of different backgrounds and cultures in California, I couldn’t even begin to describe them all to you. When I think of lumpia, I think of October. I know it doesn’t seem like a seasonal food, and indeed, none of the ingredients are seasonal, But I used to have this tasty meal at our former parish’s Fall Festival every year. I grew up going to Guardian Angels parish, and the feast day for Guardian Angels is in early October hence the festival. The Filipino women of our parish spend HOURS making these, months ahead of time. They would freeze their hard work, and them bring them out at festival time, fry them up, and serve them to raise money for the church. That is why lumpia = October to me.

It has been probably over 5 years since I last went to Guardian Angel’s fall festival. I haven’t attempted to recreate the recipe until this year, and I was wildly successful. The only hard part is rolling them as tight and as skinny as they are supposed to be. Unlike egg rolls, these are not supposed to be fat. In fact, they are supposed to resemble more of a taquito.

Besides that, they are surprisingly easy to make. Here’s what you need:

  • 1(20 count) package egg roll wrappers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup white onion minced
  • 1cup carrot, minced
  • 1cup celery,  minced (same as above)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12teaspoon ground pepper


  1. Brown beef  in a skillet over medium heat until almost completely cooked. Drain the fat, cool, and then process in food processor or chop up into fine pieces with fork.
  2. Combine meats, vegetables, egg, sauces, pepper in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour for flavors to set in (I made mine an hour ahead of time)
  3. Prepare wrapper (by separating) and place on a separate plate. Place 1 to 2 T of filling in the center of the wrapper.
  4. Fold left edge over all the way, then bring down top and bottom, then roll the rest of the way to the right, making a roll. (see picture above to get started)
  5. After you have assembled all the lumpia, heat your oil to 375 degrees (you can do this in a deep fryer, or just heat oil in a skillet and take the temp with a meat thermometer). Cook until golden brown, turning often, approximately 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with sweet and sour sauce, I personally like La Choy which can be found in any grocery store 🙂 Enjoy!



Turkey Bacon Burgers with Sweet Apple and Onion


It’s fall y’all! You should have expected an apple recipe to soon follow my post about our trip to the apple orchards, so here it is! If you think this post may sound familiar, then you could be thinking of my more savory apple turkey burgers, but I promise, this burger I am about to share has a whole new flavor profile. When I say “sweet” and “apple” don’t think of pie, think of barbecue and smoked applewood. While this burger isn’t as savory as my last turkey burger, it’s definitely a fall must-try recipe that I don’t want you to be turned off to. I paired these burgers with this side, except, to tie into the sweet side of the burgers, I added some diced yams in with the rest of my potatoes. SO GOOD.

What you need:
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 3-4 strips of bacon
– 1 apple peeled and chopped
– 1/4 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
– 1/4 c. bread crumbs [I used glutino’s gluten free panko]
– 1/2 Tbs rosemary
– 2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper

In a skillet, start cooking your bacon until the edges begin to curl up. Add your apples and onion to the skillet, and cook until soft. Remove everything from the skillet, leaving in some bacon grease [you’ll use to cook the burgers in later]. Chop up your cooked bacon into tiny pieces and mix together with the apple and onion. In a large bowl, mix together your meat, spices, and bread crumbs. Add 2/3 of your apple-bacon mixture to your meat mixture. Form patties and cook in your bacon skillet.

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When your burgers have cooked, turn to low heat, and top them with the remainder of the apple-bacon mixture and lay a piece of cheese on top to melt. I swear that apple, onion, bacon mix is so good I could’ve eaten it straight from the bowl


I dressed our burgers with swiss cheese and baby kale, on a toasted bun, smeared with mayo. Feel free to mix and match whatever toppings you want and as always, ENJOY!

Nachos at Home

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This recipe is so easy, I’m sure you’re wondering why it deserves its own post. First of all, nachos are one of my husbands favorite foods so, If nothing else, this is a love letter to him. Otherwise, the thing I love about nachos is that you can totally dress these guys up by making your own tortilla chips and adding jalapenos and avocado… OR you can throw together nachos as a quick dinner with store bought chips, meat, and cheese. EASY.

Nachos are like the pizza of Mexican food, [well, technically I think tostadas are more like a pizza, but they’re really not as popular so we’ll stick with nachos…] you can make one big pan of them, and every one can share and be satisfied. If you’re looking for a more refined recipe, I absolutely love this post from Cupcakes and Cashmere, but if you want some thing quick to throw together tonight, here’s how I made mine:

-Half a bag of restaurant style tostitos
-1/2 cup of salsa divided into 2 quarter cups
-bag of Kraft Mexican blend cheese
-1 lb. ground pork
-1 packet of taco seasoning
-1 Tbs. Yucatan guacamole
-1 Tbs. cream cheese [totally optional, I just like having a creamy taste/texture to my meat]
-shredded lettuce

I preheated my oven to 400, lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and chips, cooked the meat in a skillet with: the taco seasoning, 1/4 cup of salsa, guacamole, and cream cheese. I sprinkled my meat over my nachos, spooned a little extra salsa on each of the bigger chips, then covered them all with the shredded cheese. I baked them for 5 minutes, then topped them all off with some of that lettuce! I provided extra guac and salsa for dipping, but I loved them as they were and what is usually a restaurant appetizer, became a pretty filling meal!

Breakfast Bread [gluten free]


Trying to get back on the creative horse! I entitled this blog “Buckeyes and Babies” with the intention of posting equally about food as much as I do about babies. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ll admit I’ve been a little heavy handed with the baby talk. So, I wanted to share that banana bread recipe I talked about on Monday, but I didn’t want to title this post “banana bread” even though this is indeed, banana bread. You can use this same recipe for pumpkin or zucchini bread, though! I just happened to have bananas. I don’t want to say this is a savory recipe, but when compared to my indulgent banana bread, it seems savory. In any case, this bread would be a nice asset to brunch or any other bigger breakfast. Or hey, just eat a slice on your way out the door.


What you need [courtesy of Pamela’s]:

  • 1-3/4 cups Pamela’s Artisan Flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin or grated zucchini or very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl while the wet ingredients get whipped in a mixer. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the mixer. Spray a loaf pan, then slowly add batter (it will be very thick). Sprinkle some sugar on top before popping it into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes and you should have a delicious loaf of bread! Enjoy.


Baby Pouch DIY


I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying pre-made baby food from the store. In fact, there are a lot of organic options nowadays for baby food. Like most other organic things, it’s usually more expensive. Luckily for my baby, my husband and I are slow produce eaters. Yes, we buy the finest organic produce, but we’re human, we’re going to grab for the bacon before we grab for some fruit in the morning. That being said, I really needed to find a way to get my babe to eat more leafy green AND use up all the produce we buy before it spoils.

You can buy reusable pouches online, but some of them come with some kind of filling contraption in order to get the food into the tiny hole at the top of the pouch. If that works for you, great, but I for one rarely use appliances that have more than 2 pieces, so I knew if this was some thing I was going to commit to doing on a weekly basis, it was going to have to be easy.

Hubs and I found these pouches that actually have a wide opening on the bottom of the pouch, so you can easily pour or scoop a puree into them. If you don’t want pouches that open at the bottom [I’ll admit I was skeptical at first] you can always use an icing/piping bag to fill your pouches with puree.

In any case, here’s what you need:
-reusable pouches
-food processor
-2 apples, peeled and chopped
-1.5 cups of spinach
-.25 cup of organic yogurt
-1 Tbs of ground flax [optional]

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the apples and spinach until both are tender. Add to food processor with remaining ingredients, and pulse until everything is smooth. Pour into pouches and refrigerate.

Did I mention the pouches we got can also be stored in the freezer? Like I said…. it’s a solution to using up produce before it goes bad!

Easy Chicken Drumsticks

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Normally, I’m a chicken breast kind of woman, but when pregnancy gives you a red meat aversion, you kind of get sick of eating chicken breasts ALL the time (but you’re still totally not going to eat that nasty bloody meat). SO, I had to branch out a bit and so I went with my least-risky, next option: chicken drumsticks. If you had an awesome childhood, then you remember fighting your siblings for these tasty morsels out of all the other cuts of chicken in that KFC bucket. Ok, so maybe some of you didn’t, but in any case, drumsticks are an option that are both delicious and underrated.

Don’t be intimidated by the drumsticks, people! Like I said, least-risky…

I have a simple and delicious marinade that I use for these cuts, then all you have to do is pop them in the oven whenever you feel ready for it! I will warn you though, these take about an hour to cook, so don’t wait until you’re starving.

What you need:

  • 1 pound of chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • cup oil
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Place all of these ingredients in a big ziplock bag. Toss it between your hands a few times, to make sure everything is mixed together and evenly coated. You can set your bag in the fridge while it marinates. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but I usually do an hour. If you want, you could prepare these the night before and they’d have an excellent flavor by the time you got home from work to cook them. Anyway, Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place your drumsticks on a lined baking sheet [I use silicone baking mats, but parchment paper works just as well]. Bake your drummies at 375 for a half hour, then take them out and turn them over. Place them back in the oven to cook for another 30 minutes. Remember to flip them, I promise it’s worth it. This ensures a crispy outside, and a moist inside.

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We served this chicken with a side of summer cabbage slaw and it was a great combo! Enjoy.