Up until a few weeks ago, it had been a really long time since I had eaten at a California Pizza Kitchen. We had some family in town, which meant a girls only shopping trip was in order! We were probably 20 minutes into the outing when lunch became the next inevitable step. When your shopping has barely begun and the food court kinda sucks you can always count on a CPK to be attached to the mall somewhere. And side note: I have mentioned my love for food courts before on this blog, so when you hear me call one disappointing enough for me to ditch it, you know it’s bad. I think my love for food courts has diminished significantly since moving back to Colorado from Boston though. Boston food courts were the bomb! Anyway, this trip to CPK was the first time I didn’t get a pizza and boy was I pleasantly surprised (I replicated my salad too – coming soon!). My mom had the turkey avocado egg rolls for her meal and was nice enough to share because they were so good that everyone needed to experience it. I decided right away to try these at home even though I felt pretty unsure about how well I would be able to replicate the presentation. Really, the most challenging thing was figuring out how to roll them up properly, but after a quick google session I had it down. This turned into a bit of a hybrid recipe where I used this as a guide for proportions and for folding the wrappers, but I did a bit of a different sauce and fried them because, duh. You could of course bake them though! For my sauce I actually used one of those packets of ranch powder in a spicy flavor because for a reason unknown even to me, I hate buying bottles of ranch dressing. If I absolutely need it for something I’d prefer a one-use option. These egg rolls are such an awesome party food/appetizer that tasted even better than the original, in my opinion. They are similar to the guacamole wontons that I made a while back, but with all of the salad like fillings, it could be substantial enough for a full meal if you’d like (I did!).
Homemade Cheez-Its has been on my ‘want to copycat that’ list for such a long time. Recipes and photos have been popping up in my blog feeds for what seems like years! I wasn’t too into Cheez-Its until last year when my Mom, brother and I started an unofficial mission to try every flavor. We would split a big box every week for work/school snacks, discuss where that week’s flavor ranked, and then hunt down a new one. I’m pretty sure I’ve told you guys how weirdly obsessed I am with gimmicky food flavors and novelty releases – I ain’t kiddin’. I haven’t been buying boxes for myself since I’ve been away from home because what’s the fun in that? I guess that’s what made me finally give the homemade version a try! I still can’t believe how easy they are to make and they taste remarkably similar. Now, this doesn’t mean I’ll give up on trying new Cheez-It flavors, but I’ll definitely continue making these when I have a craving. My two tips for if you try this are 1) roll the dough as thin as you can and 2) don’t skimp on the cheese (duh). The first batch I made had a few slightly over puffed and under-cheezed crackers. As always, let me know if you do this too!
And P.S. if you’re wondering what our favorite Cheez-It flavor was…I honestly can’t remember. However, I think I remember being most disappointed by Baby Swiss. Also, did you guys know that this exists? Um, gross? Even my obsession can’t take me far enough to buy Cheez-It lip balm.
The fact that this is my second Starbucks copycat post is a total accident! I was in the mood to bake a cake, but realized I don’t actually have a cake pan! What the?! Instead, I thought about what I already had in the kitchen and an image of the Starbucks Iced Lemon Pound Cake popped into my head. I started searching for some copycat recipes and found that the secret seems to be lemon extract. I really didn’t want to make another trip to the store to find it and figured I would just make due without it. BUT then I dug around in my baking cabinet and remembered that I DO have some. Turns out I had to go to the store to get eggs anyway. Womp, womp, womp. I used this recipe and it tastes really great! I actually haven’t had the loaf from Starbucks in a really long time, but it does seem to taste the way I remember it! Now I need to think of some ways to use the orange and lime oils that I have too!
It’s the last day of November and I wanted to squeeze this post in because even though I could drink this year round, it feels a little more November than December. I’m not the biggest coffee fan and I don’t do so well with caffeine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like staying cozy with some Starbucks! Sometimes I branch out because the seasonal drinks sound sooo good, but I love the Caramel Apple Spice the best. I always thought it was only around for fall, but it seems like it’s moved to the permanent menu…Is this true??
Anyway, I had an almost empty bottle of Trader Joe’s Apple Cider and an almost empty box of Trader Joe’s salted caramel squares, so I put two and two together and made a little batch of Caramel Apple spice! I looked for some tips online and found that you can buy the syrup that they use here – who knew? Then I found some more tips for making it yourself. I mixed about a quarter cup of water, a quarter cup of brown sugar, a few dashes of cinnamon (add a little more if you’re using plain apple juice) then heated it on the stove for 5 minutes or so. Then I poured in the apple cider to let it heat and mix in with the syrup. Now, I think the syrup is what’s supposed to give it the caramely taste, but I had some squares so I threw them in to melt. The caramel taste is what makes the drink so special, I think. Add some whipped cream on top and more cinnamon to make it pretty. It was delicious and tasted just like the real deal!