Fudgy cocoa brownies

Easy drop pumpkin cookies

I love when reality TV makes me feel better about my life. That’s prety much the main objective of it, isn’t it? With this season of Great British Bake Off, I’m feeling like maybe I’m a better baker than I thought. Some of the bakes actually seem easy to me, but not as much if they have an emphasis on style and presentation.

In episode 4, which focused on chocolate, the bakers were tasked with making brownies and most of them didn’t do very well. Brownies can be tricky at times, and it’s possible they didn’t have much experience with brownies, as it is an American dessert. I would have liked to see at least one of the bakers win over the judges with a classic brownie recipe.

Last week, my mom asked me to make brownies for her birthday dinner. I had offered to make an ice cream pie, like the one at Islands restaurants, but she said a brownie sundae bar might be better. My sister Mary shared a favorite brownie recipe recently that I thought about using. But it seemed slightly complicated, so I went with a recipe for cocoa brownies. Halfway through, I worried it would be a fail. The batter was thicker than I expected. It looked different than the photos in the recipe, but I had made some slight changes. I seriously considered running to the store for a back up dessert. I went ahead and baked them any way, thinking I could still rush to the store before the dinner. The brownies actually came turned out great. Good thing I didn’t give up on them! You’re going to want to try them too.

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Pan-seared mahi-mahi with bell pepper and mushrooms

Mahi-mahi with sautéed vegetables

I thought I would check in and see what fish recipes are on Deb Perlman’s popular blog Smitten Kitchen and I was a bit shocked to see that she hardly has any! I know now that Deb is fish-averse. I, however, am not. I have shared my love for fish tacos with you already. Growing up in Southern California has had a influence on my tastes. I don’t like sushi or poke, but I do enjoy a good shrimp bowl and shrimp with pasta.

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Palm Springs date shake

California  date shakes

Today marks my three year wedding anniversary. It’s crazy that it’s already been three years. Time has passed by pretty quickly. Although Paul and I have been married three years, we’ve been together for eight and a half years now. That’s a long time! We graduated college, got internships, moved in together, went through many job changes together, got married, and had a baby who is now almost two. Did I say time flies already?

I have been thinking about some of our past vacations, which have mostly all been California road trips. I’m not complaining about that. I love a good California road trip and I’m looking forward to the next one, whenever it may be.

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Pumpkin cookies with penuche frosting

Easy drop pumpkin cookies

Many moons ago, my sister Mary made these pumpkin cookies with brown sugar frosting. They became one of her specialties for a few years. Mary is a great baker. She got into baking before me, and now that she lives up north, I miss her baking.

These stuck in my memory and I was inspired to make them, as I have been wanting to share more seasonal recipes on my blog and just to make more seasonal recipes for fun myself. I’m not one to go out and buy all the pumpkin things in the fall, but these cookies are certainly an exception. They’re making me rethink my aversion to all things pumpkin spice.

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Grape blueberry milk

Have you ever heard of a grape smoothie? I don’t think I had until last December. Maggie got a food truck toy for Christmas last year and it came with three toy smoothies that are labeled as banana, strawberry and grape. I have wondered time and time again who was on the team that came up with this toy and why they didn’t have a blueberry or mango smoothie instead.

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Individual meat loaves

Individual meat loaves dinner

This recipe for individual meat loaves is made with ground beef, egg, oats, onion and spices. The sweet and slightly tangy sauce is made with ketchup, mustard and brown sugar.

My mom used to make this when I was growing up and it was always one of my favorite meals. Serve it with mashed potatoes, broccoli or green beans, and fresh fruit for a delicious dinner.

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8 dinners to eat in this heat (no oven!)

 Steak salad with cucumbers and tomatoes

A lot of days this summer, we have some kind of tacos for dinner. Well, actually that’s all year. We don’t have a grill and don’t plan on getting one for our small patio, so we rely heavily on the stovetop and try to avoid turning on the oven, especially on weeks when the temperature rarely drops below 75.

There’s nothing wrong with having tacos often, but I enjoy a bit more variety so I don’t get bored of not only eating the same thing all the time, but making the same thing. So, I thought I would share some tried and true recipes that are refreshing and delicious, perfect for summer.

Keep reading for 8 summer dinners that don’t require you to turn on your oven.

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