French Bread Pizza

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Yum… bread. And cheese. My two favorite things smooshed together. This french bread pizza is the absolute easiest thing. I made it over the summer when I realized I had a pack of pizza sauce, but wasn’t really feeling like normal pizza. Kyle and I loved it (I judge how much Kyle likes something by how much he eats – he ate almost a whole half). I have a Halloween potluck coming up and I’m debating between bringing something like this or cupcakes…

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Pekara Bakery & Bistro (Champaign, IL)

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This weekend I hopped in the car and took the too-long trip to visit my boyfriend, Kyle. We spent most of the weekend just relaxing, doing homework, and catching up with friends (I somehow got convinced to watch the “Breaking Bad” finale, even though I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes of season 1…) However, we took a quick break during the day on Saturday and decided to hit up a local bakery and cafe downtown.

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Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

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Hello my lovely friends! I know this recipe might sound odd, but I’m begging you – give it a shot. It’s cheap, easy, and much healthier than regular brownies. With no flour, they are extremely fudgey and it’s difficult to eat just one.

It’s the start of a new school year for me. In between preparing lesson plans, attending meetings, and getting ready for my own classes; I attended a potluck on Friday to welcome the new Anthropology graduate students. I brought these black bean brownies and received around 10 compliments (no lies) and they were gone within 15 minutes (again, no lies). Perhaps these flew off the plate so quickly because anthropologists are known to be adventurous and willing to try new dishes. However, I encourage you to put these together and take them to a potluck – I bet you can get a few people to eat them without noticing anything odd before you tell everyone that black beans are in the batter.

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Rainbow Swirl Cake

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Isn’t this the most gorgeous cake? Kyle keeps remarking that it looks as if I painted flowers on it. Believe it or not, this cake is extremely easy to make (although it does make quite a few dishes). It’s fun and people will be very impressed with your baking ability; even though the cake mix comes from a box!

I decided to bake this cake last week for a friend, Mike, leaving town. He’s going all the way to Arizona to start his graduate school career (I’m always incredibly impressed by how many intelligent people I’m friends with). Mike and his girlfriend Méch are people that Kyle and I hang out with all the time and I’m sad that 1/4 of our group is leaving us for one of my favorite states! I baked the cake and Kyle added some frosting decorations as best he could… (see below!)

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Margherita Pizza

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I’m alive! I’m alive! Yes, if you can believe it – I’m still cooking! I’ve been living with  my boyfriend Kyle this summer and we don’t have internet at his place (we’re cheap and we decided it would force us to read more). So, blogging and other internet things have gone downhill!

Summer has been going lovely, but I don’t understand how it’s already August. It’s gone too quickly! Although when Iook back, I do realize I’ve done a ton (see https://dirtanddesserts.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/summer-update/ for a reminder). This week was fairly relaxed, going out with friends, working, studying Spanish, and reading in free time. I went home recently and my mom gave me some fresh produce from her garden, which included tomatoes and basil. Inspired by the simplicity of fresh produce, Kyle and I made an easy pizza. (Plus – I had been missing Italy, so this was almost as good!)

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Summer Update

Yikes. I haven’t posted for a long time. But, I’ve been insanely busy, so you must forgive me! You must. This summer has already flown by with crazy adventures.

First thing? I finished school, put in some last hours at work, drove to visit Kyle for a few days and then headed home to be a bridesmaid in my close friends’ wedding. Lacey and Ken are perfectly bizarre together and I’m happy I had a tiny part in how they met. Ken was a college friend and Lacey was a high school friend. When she visited me at school one year, they met and the rest is odd history.

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Lacey’s sister and mom helping her get ready

ImageI brought my camera to get photos while dancing… so happy I did – tons of “gems” like this

A couple days after the wedding, my mom, aunt, cousin, and I headed off to an international vacation! It was absolutely amazing and I took over 2,000 photographs, so I’ll only share a few. I was fortunate enough to travel to Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna, and Prague.

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Who wouldn’t be excited about gelato twice a day?

ImageThis trip has solidified the fact that my mom is one of the most amazing people I know. And I know a lot of fantastic people.

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This is probably one of my favorite photos from the whole vacation – in front of the John Lennon wall during our electric bike tour (such fun)!

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The art we traveled the world to see.

Like I said, I have tons of photos I could share; I’m sure I’ll include more in the future. After that though, I headed out to do one of my favorite things in the world: archaeology

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My muscles were extremely sore and my hands are still covered in blisters, but I love it.

So – that’s been the last weeks for me. Crazy and exciting and overwhelming – all the best things. Now I’m about to work full-time (my first day is tomorrow at 8 am! yikes!)

Hopefully I’ll be back to posting more regularly. Fingers crossed!

S’mores Cookies

I shouldn’t do blog posts when I’m hungry. I want to eat all the cookies. I’ve been gone for quite awhile from blogging because things have been crazy on my end! First of all – I finished up with finals and my first year of graduate school. It seemed nearly impossible at times and I questioned whether it was a mistake often, but I survived and overall, I’m happy. I have an overwhelming amount of work in front of me, but I’ve started, which is something.

Besides finishing up my first two semesters, I found out that I’ll be teaching all next year. HOORAH! FUNDING! No one (minus perhaps my parents) realize what a relief this is for me. I’ve been worrying about it a ton and filling out so many applications and I finally got a position that I think I’m going to be incredibly happy with! It’ll be tons of work, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. After finals and celebrating my new position, I headed out for a week with Kyle. It went crazy quick (like it always does), but I got to spend a lot of time with close friends which was a great destresser from school. I’m at home now for a friends wedding this weekend (first time as a bridesmaid!) before heading to Europe for a couple weekends! I’m starting to get excited, but it honestly hasn’t hit me that I’m going on vacation and not back to school! After that, it’s fieldwork then back to work! It seems like I have so much to do in such a short summer. However, I’m looking forward to cooking and baking in my free time and what says summer more than s’mores?!

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Sugar Cookie Bars

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I’ve always loved sugar cookies. Let’s be real, I’ve always loved all cookies. But sugar cookies? Those are near the top in Leslie’s list of delicious desserts. These are perfect cookies to whip-up on a random day, because most houses have all the ingredients on hand. And how can the pink frosting not entice you?

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Chicken Tamale Pie

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The semester is ending and I’ve got tons to do! I have a 20 page paper due on Thursday, but I’ve got 16 pages written, so I’m not too concerned. But it’s my big project this weekend – to finish writing and editing. That and working! I worked from 8-10 last night (not the most convenient time…) and I work from 4-9ish today! But besides all this work – I had a pretty wonderful morning. A couple friends and I went to the farmer’s market (the first one outside this year)! We arrived a bit late, so there wasn’t too much to purchase. However, this didn’t stop me from getting a succulent (sadly, one of my plants I’ve had for 4 years finally bit the dust and needs to be replaced) and a thing of homemade honey.

I also bought the most delicious kolache! This past week I got a $50 parking ticket (yuck), but in a somewhat-lucky fashion, my friend Jeff got one too. Following his advice, we went to the parking center and thankfully the tickets were cleared. Because I have more important things to spend my money on. Like alcohol. And socks. Anyway… back to food. To celebrate, Jeff suggested we go to this wonderful little bakery. I ordered the kolache and oh my goddddddd dead. dead. dead. dead. So freakin’ delicious! The bakery (Sweet Claires, for all you Bloomington folks) was at the farmer’s market and I got the same exact thing! It’s ridiculous how much food can make me happy. In case you were wondering, kolache is this savory bun with soy chorizo, goat cheese, and spinach inside. (Of course, there are other flavors too – I’m just addicted to this one.)

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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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I was so excited when I saw this cauliflower in my vegetable bin. I had bought it for Kyle and I to eat over the weekend, but had completely forgot about it! On Monday when I opened up the fridge, wondering what I was going to eat this week I found my beautiful, lovely cauliflower! Who knew vegetables would one day make me so excited?

I had tried a recipe like this before and didn’t love it. There was too much breading and sauce. However, after playing around with it, I think I’ve found the perfect combination. As someone who loves wings, but tries to eat healthy, this stuff is delicious! Continue reading