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Girls Night In with SkinnyPop Popcorn: Coconut-Peanut-Lime Popcorn Cups!

When SkinnyPop Popcorn asked me, "If you could create your own unique popcorn snack, what would it be?" I thought very carefully about it!  When I think of popcorn, I definitely think of lounging, romantic comedies and being around friends.  That's when I knew my creation would have to be something perfect for a girl's night in.  I thought about flavors that would complement each other and of course, the popcorn. I decided that a sweet and salty mix of toasted coconut flakes, peanuts, lime zest and a coating of sweet coconut oil dressing would be my dream popcorn treat! Then I thought it would be perfect to serve this tropical popcorn in individual cups so friends could refill at anytime!  Adding a lime wedge for squeezing extra lime flavor on top was the perfect final touch.  

This recipe is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious!  All you need is a bag of SkinnyPop salted popcorn, a few limes, peanuts, coconut shreds, coconut oil and powdered sugar.  So round up your favorite movies and friends then munch the night away!  

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Mini White Peach & Rosemary Pies with Whiskey Whipped Cream

Making pie dough is something that truly brings me joy.  I have no idea why, it's pretty simple to put together, but there is just something calming to me about it! My go-to is the recipe from the one and only Alice Waters.  I love to mix in the cold butter and roll the mix around with my hands.  I love smoothing the rolling pin with dry flour and flattening out the cold dough to the perfect diameter.  This time, I wanted to try something different -- I thought, wonder if I made mini pies and put them in my muffin tin?! What a genius idea! I was certain no one else had ever thought of this, but thank you Google for proving me wrong for the umpteenth time.  Yes, it had been done before, but had anyone done with with my white peach and sage pie filling? I don't think so.  

Another love of mine are peaches...peaches are the very best thing about Summer in my opinion. They have such a distinct flavor that is slightly floral and perfectly sweet.  They are delicious at breakfast, in salads, on sandwiches, roasted, grilled, sautéed or raw -- there is no wrong way to eat a peach.  Of course they are one of the best pie fillings too!  I also enjoy pairing herbs with produce, I thought that rosemary would go marvelously well with these white peaches -- and it did!  

The success in these mini pies, was not only that they were delicious, but that they were so fun to hold in one hand and bite into!  Topped with whiskey whipped cream, they were truly a special treat.  Please try them out for your next baking adventure!  These peaches won't be Summer fresh too much longer.

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Watermelon Salad with Lime, Mint and Mizithra Cheese

I have always loved the concept of utilizing watermelon in salads during the Summer and am someone who definitely prefers fruit in my salad when it's possible!  I had the idea of making this salad awhile ago, but now that watermelon season is officially here, I could test it out. I really loved how all of the ingredients came together - the tangy lime in the dressing, the sweet fruit and the salty cheese.  This is a great refreshing salad that can be served any time of the day and it's pretty enough to be showcased at parties and BBQ's.  If you want to kick the flavor profile up a notch, I recommend sprinkling with some red pepper flakes! I tried it and it was also delicious.

Watermelon Salad with Lime, Mint and Mizithra Cheese

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Easy Sweet Ricotta Crepes with Berries and Peaches

Making crepes is so much fun and always so much easier than you think! You can literally fill them with anything!  In this recipe, I chose ricotta cheese as the filling because it was what I had in the refrigerator at the time, but you could use any kind of cheese, yogurt, jam or spread of your choice. However, I especially liked the thickness of the ricotta and how it paired with the strawberries, peaches and mint. 

Easy Sweet Ricotta Crepes with Berries and Peaches

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My Cocoa Tangerine Pancakes Win on NBC's Today Show

Photo by Nathan Congleton/Today

Photo by Nathan Congleton/Today

Last week, something incredible happened.  I was flown to NYC to be on NBC's the Today Show, presenting my recipe for Cocoa Tangerine Pancakes.  This was a recipe that I had recently developed but hadn't done anything with.  When I was watching the Today Show a couple of weeks ago, they called on recipes for their Ultimate Cook-Off, I figured I had nothing to lose -- even though I almost didn't enter!  Thank goodness for the voice in my head saying, "Ummm Tara, you would be really stupid, to NOT enter your recipe to this contest!" Thanks voice, you were so right!  

What I find so incredible about this event for me specifically, was that it was a very full-circle moment.  It was seven years ago almost to the day, that I took a trip by myself to New York.  I visited my good friend Emma and ate a lot of amazing food.  It was that food and that trip, that inspired me to launch The Food Pervert when I got back to LA.  It was my way of sharing my experiences with friends and family.  Nothing more.  This was way before "influencers" were a thing and even before "instagram" itself.  It was before smartphone cameras were the go-to for capturing food porn. It was before comped "media tastings" were expected. It was when everything was much simpler.  I miss those early days.  However, standing on the set of the Today Show, whisk in hand, to demonstrate a recipe that I created out of my genuine love for food and sharing it with others, I knew that my choice was right.  This path was mine and continues to be mine. 

I never had any expectations for this blog, it was just something I loved to do.  I am so grateful for the life it has provided me, the people it has brought to me and the lessons it has taught me. I look forward to where we go next!  Thank you for following.

Miss the episode? Watch below!


I never had any expectations for this blog, it was just something I loved to do.  I am so grateful for the life it has provided me, the people it has brought to me and the lessons it has taught me. I look forward to where we go next!  Thank you for following.

Miss the episode? Watch Here!

Want the recipe? Click here!

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Hot Pink Sweet Beet Deviled Eggs

If one has the option to serve bright pink deviled eggs or plain deviled eggs - why would you not choose pink?! Deviled eggs are one of my favorite go to snacks all year long! I'm also a huge fan of pickled things and beets - so this recipe is pretty much perfection for me!  It's so easy to soak your eggs in beet juice and vinegar overnight and serve them the next day! They taste sweet, salty and tangy and look oh so pretty!

Hot Pink Sweet Beet Deviled Eggs

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Lamb Sausage and Fig Pizza

Pizza, pizza, pizza! This is maybe one of the most delicious flavor combinations I have ever put together on a pizza! Creamy goat cheese, lamb sausage, fresh figs...c'mon! If that isn't getting your mouth moistened, I don't know what is.  The great thing about this pizza is that it's not too hard to throw together and if you're having guests over - they will be incredibly impressed with these gourmet toppings! The trick is that you pick up the dough, pre-made from your favorite market or from Trader Joe's, like I did.  That way all you have to do is roll it out, put on your toppings throw it in a piping hot oven and 15 minutes later, BAM! Incredible pizza! Enjoy!

Lamb Sausage and Fig Pizza

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Easy Veggie Egg Muffins

I recently decided to cut out sugar, caffeine, starches and carbs from my diet for two weeks.  It wasn't easy, but these egg muffins definitely made mornings less harsh!  The best thing is that you can make a batch and then they will last you for a few days.  Just heat and serve!  They are a great way to get veggies and protein all at once and also double as an afternoon snack.

Easy Veggie Egg Muffins

 

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Dark Chocolate and Sweet Mint Sandwich Cookies

Dark Chocolate Sweet Mint Cookies.jpg

Chocolate and mint -- one of my very favorite dessert combos. I know it's not for everyone, but I think it's brilliant!   When I came across the chocolate sandwich cookie recipe in The Violet Bakery Cookbook, I immediately knew that I wanted to do my own spin on it and add a mint buttercream filling instead of the suggested salted caramel (which would also be delicious, don't get me wrong)!  These are essentially homemade oreos and make a great dessert for any St. Patrick's Day party or for anytime you're craving chocolate and mint in cookie form.  This recipe does require some patience as the dough needs to chill for a couple of hours, but don't fret, the result is worth it.
*Recipe adapted from Claire Ptak

Dark Chocolate and Sweet Mint Sandwich Cookies

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Creamy Chickpea Tomato Soup

The weather in LA has been unusually chilly the last few weeks, which had me seriously craving a bowl of hot tomato soup!  Lucky for me on one particularly gray day, I looked through my cupboard and found everything I needed to make my own soup from scratch!  I decided to add the chickpeas because firstly because, I love them, secondly because I thought that blending them would add a nice flavor and texture.  I was correct, this is now my very favorite tomato soup!  I topped my bowl with fresh basil and shredded mozzarella cheese, but you can do whatever you want!

Creamy Chickpea Tomato Soup

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Gluten Free Butternut Squash and Sage Quiche

Sage is one of my very favorite herbs! When I saw the original recipe for this Butternut Squash Quiche by Claire Ptak, in her book, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, I had to make my own version! Since I try to keep my gluten intake to a minimum when I'm dining at home, I decided to make a crustless version of this recipe.  The recipe also calls for flour to be mixed into the egg and cream mixture, which I did not do so it would be totally gluten free! I was really happy with how delicious this quiche turned out!  Adding goat cheese makes it extra creamy and savory!  This is a perfect dish to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Gluten Free Butternut Squash and Sage Quiche

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Pumpkin Spice & Pomegranate Waffles

Everyone might be tired of hearing about pumpkin, but I know some of you still have cans left over from the holidays!  This is a great recipe that will use up the last of that pumpkin.  I love this recipe, which has been adapted from the blog, Just a Taste.  The waffles are packed with spice and aren’t too sweet, making the pomegranate seed topping really pop. Enjoy on a chilly weekend morning this Winter!

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Saveur's Almond Frangipane Tart

It has become a habit with me to create a new and interesting dessert every Thanksgiving.  This year I was inspired by the beautiful images of Saveur’s Almond Frangipane Tart.  I loved how it looked and then when I read how to make it, my mind was made up.  I love anything almond, so I had a very good feeling about this dessert. I also love that it was still incorporating the autumn ingredient of cranberries.

*Recipe Recreated from Stacey Adimando of Saveur Magazine

Saveur's Almond Frangipane Tart

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Healthy Green Monster Turkey Burgers

A few months ago, I tried Gwyneth Paltrow's Middle Eastern Turkey Burger recipe and it blew me away!  Seriously, they were the most amazing turkey burgers I had ever had.  Whenever I buy ground turkey meat I always fantasize about making those burgers.  This go around, I didn't have all of the ingredients Gwyn calls for, so I did my own version.

My burgers still turned out fabulously, as I topped them with tasty green toppings!  After eating the lean turkey meat and layers of green, you will feel well nourished and strong...at least that's how I felt!

I recommend making a few patties at time so you can easily eat them all week!

Healthy Green Monster Turkey Burgers

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Gooey Butter Cake

I was recently on an East Coast foodie adventure when I discovered my new favorite dessert, butter cake.  While dining at Jack's Firehouse in Philadelphia, my friends raved about their special dessert that was a must-order, the Amish Butter Cake.  One bite and I was gone.  I was somewhere beyond reality.  Over the moon, over the rainbow, it was a very good place to be.  The best way to describe its texture would be to say it's like a lemon bar without the lemon.  The soft, gooey cake lodges into your heart where your whole being falls in love with it. 

I looked up a recipe to make it the moment I was back in the West.  This would be my ultimate holiday contribution that would leave people begging for more!  Now, I pass the recipe on to you and thank Cheryl Souson of The TidyMom Blog, where I found the recipe!  I love Cheryl's version because it's easy with a guarantee of deliciousness.  Supposedly this dessert originated in St. Louis...then spread to the Amish?  Either way I love it!

Gooey Butter Cake

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Spicy Vegetarian Bhakti Chai Stir-Fry

Let it be known that no product is off limits in the kitchen!  To be honest, I had never thought of cooking a dish with chai tea, but when Bhakti Chai wanted to collaborate and support my search for an authentically spicy, little-bit-sweet, savory recipe, I gladly took on the challenge!  

Bhakti has so many great blends to work with so it was hard to pick the best one for my dish.  During my brainstorming, I focused on the flavors of chai: spicy, gingery and slightly sweet.  I wanted my dish to bring out the spice, so I decided to use the semi-sweet ready-to-drink chai to create a spicy chai stir-fry!  I love the flavors of Asian cuisine and knew that using chai as a base would be a lot of fun!

For many stir-fry sauces the main ingredients are sugar and/or cornstarch.  I did not use either!  These are used as thickening agents, but I wanted this dish to have the least amount of sugar as possible.  I promise it tastes delicious!  Also note that this recipe uses tofu, but you may use any protein you wish!

Spicy Vegetarian Bhakti Chai Stir-Fry

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Brown Sugar Bourbon Date Cake

Outta my way pumpkin pie!  There's a new favorite holiday dessert to be had!  Date cake!  I was inspired to offer something new to my family this past Thanksgiving.  I decided I was going to bake my first ever date cake.  

I searched for recipes and decided to go with Ina Garten's version.  I only made one modification (brown sugar), but overall it was a great recipe!

All of the guests loved it. including my cousin Stefan, who is the toughest critic I know.

For your next holiday party, dinner, soiree...bring this date cake and win everyone over.  Being a winner feels good!  Get baking!

Special thanks to Ina Garten! www.barefootcontessa.com
 

Brown Sugar Bourbon Date Cake

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