central market’s kale, pepita, and cranberry salad



kale isn’t one of those things where i go “OH KALE?! i love kale!” i mean, in the last few years i have been on my way there. almost;) ultimately my goal is to be more like my mom, who has a shirt that just says KALE (like YALE, get it?). #wholefoodsnerd

well, one fine day i experienced a kale salad that i fell in LOVE with. i actually went around telling people about this salad, making them promise me that they would go as fast as they could to go get this amazing salad. KALE salad.
if you know me, this would have seemed odd.

but it’s true. this kale salad is amazing. and anyone who has been to h.e.b. or central market in texas and tried this salad can attest to this. i had a little help (from this blog and this blog) to get the ingredients straight and then i adapted it, getting it just right to my taste. hope this makes you like kale too.

*if you are wanting to make this recipe whole30 friendly, just sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, omit the agave, and make sure there is no added sugar in your OJ.

central market’s kale, pepita, and cranberry salad
serves 4 as a side dish


6 – 7 cups raw kale, washed & chopped (i chop mine pretty well, like the greens in a chopped salad)

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp agave (scant)

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pepitas

1/4 cup sliced almonds


1. after washing (and drying off a little) & chopping, place kale in a serving bowl or glass dish.

2. in a mason jar, combine orange juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, agave, and ground ginger and give it a good shake (or you can whisk it all together in a small bowl). pour dressing over kale greens, add cranberries, and toss a bit.

3. you can serve immediately, or ideally, refrigerate and serve the next day so that the flavors really soak in and the kale absorbs the dressing and softens (if you can’t refrigerate overnight, let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or two to soften the kale). while it’s marinating in the fridge, stir it a few times, every 3-4 hours if you can to redistribute the dressing. before serving, top with pepitas and almonds.


my favorite chocolate chip cookies

my favorite chocolate chip cookies - she likes to eat
as every normal american girl, my life has been a quest.
a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

it’s not something i daily think about per se, but in the back of my mind, almost subconsciously, i have always been searching for my favorite. as someone who likes to cook, i have tried so many cookies and recipes over my life and loved so many. my grandma used to make some pretty great ones. phoebe’s mom’s friend mrs. nestle tollhouse has a pretty decent one. several of my close friends have really good ones too. but until recently, i wouldn’t have been able to say “i’ve found my favorite”. my go-to for picnics or to take to a friend. my favorite recipe that i always make when i just need some chocolate chip cookies.

this recipe is the one. it is a perfect chocolate chip cookie with a round buttery taste and a bit of saltiness, with just the right amount of chocolate chips that you can still savor the cookie that’s in between. i love adding the depth of the espresso powder but these cookies are just as wonderful if you choose to omit it. (interestingly, the espresso puffs up the cookies a little bit during baking. without it, they are a little flatter.)

recipe edited just a bit on 1.25.2015

my favorite chocolate chip cookies
makes about 30 cookies


1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp instant espresso powder  [see this page for where to get it]

1 heaping cup chocolate chips


1. preheat the oven to 350*. line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. set aside. in a large bowl, with a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together, until light & fluffy. add egg and vanilla and mix well. add flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined. add in chocolate chips. (the batter is quite thick, so using your hands is helpful here.)

3. using a cookie scoop or your hands, form dough into balls and place on cookie sheets. bake sheets one at a time in the oven. bake first sheet for 5 minutes, then take cookie sheet out & bang lightly on the counter (this gives you the yummy-looking lines on top of the cookies). then rotate the pan (so they bake evenly) and put it back in the oven. bake another 4-5 minutes, until the sides are set and golden brown, but the center is still under-baked.

4. repeat with the other 2 cookie sheets. once you remove each sheet from the oven, bang the pan lightly on the countertop to create more lines on the tops of the cookies. cool cookies on wire racks.


recipe adapted from the vanilla bean blog
*sometimes my cookies spread better when cooked at 375 – depends on your oven and how hot it gets.

vanilla & cinnamon extracts – make your own

photo (26)

i am personally not a huge DIY-er. i am not crafty, as as much as my mom sweetly says “honey you can do it”, i honestly have no desire to be.  if my husband were a part of this conversation, he would tell you the infamous first-year-of-marriage farm table story, where i begged him to let us buy this old farm table for me to refurbish. it sat on our back porch in north carolina for A WHOLE YEAR without being touched. when we moved, we had to throw it off the balcony into a dumpster because of all the wasps nests that had set up shop all over it… ::sheepish grin::
hey, i was busy with other things. like figuring out how to be a wife.

but there is one exception to my not being crafty: vanilla and cinnamon extracts.
i decided earlier this year to try it, probably because that meant i could source and buy cute little bottles and print out these really cool labels for them (being the design nerd that i am, this got me really excited). and aside from the obvious reason that it’s way cheaper, i like that you can control the flavor.

wondering where you might use the lovely-sounding cinnamon extract?
try this glorious, crumbly cinnamon coffee cake.

vanilla extract
makes one cup/8 ounces of extract


3-4 vanilla beans

1 cup/8 ounces medium- to high-quality vodka, bourbon, or brandy (**see note below**)


1. clean & dry a small, 8 ounce kerr/mason jar or bottle – set aside.

2. using a sharp knife (if you have one, a bird’s beak paring knife works like a dream) cut the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, exposing all of the inside but not cutting all the way through the bean. cut in half or into 3 pieces and put into jar or bottle and (using a funnel for a bottle) top with vodka or brandy. make sure the beans are completely submerged in the alcohol. give it a good shake.

3. allow extract to sit for 8 weeks in a cool & dark spot, shaking the jar(s) every few days or so.

cinnamon extract

makes one cup/8 ounces of extract


4 cinnamon sticks

1 cup/8 ounces medium- to high-quality vodka


1. clean & dry a small, 8 ounce kerr/mason jar.

2. place cinnamon sticks in jar and pour vodka over the sticks. make sure the sticks are completely submerged in the alcohol. give it a good shake.

3. allow extract to sit for 8 weeks in a cool & dark spot, shaking the jar(s) every few days or so.

– after making a jar, i usually put a post-it note on the outside with the date that i made the extract. then after the 8 week period, i put on a nice sticker label.
– for vanilla extract: using vodka will create a cleaner extract, without much extra flavoring besides the vanilla itself; and using brandy or bourbon will create lots of rich character. (brandy and vodka are my 2 preferred extract alcohols.)
– after the 8 weeks and once you start using your extract, make sure to give the jar a good shake before using each time, to combine and in case anything has settled to the bottom.
– if you want to make more than one 8 ounce bottle, below i’ve done some multiplication for you:
2 cups of extract = 16 ounces = 1 pint = 6 vanilla beans (or 8 cinnamon sticks)
4 cups of extract = 32 ounces = 2 pints = 1 quart = 12 vanilla beans (or 16 cinnamon sticks)
– if you are looking for cute bottles or vanilla beans, beanilla is a great website. also, amazon sells good quality vanilla beans.
– which vanilla bean to use for your extract? if you want bold and smoky, go for a mexican bean. if you are wanting rich and creamy, use madagascar beans. if you want a chocolate-cherry/floral aroma, buy a tahitian bean.
– when you’ve used all of the extract, you can just add 1-2 new fresh vanilla beans (or 1-2 cinnamon sticks) and refill the jar with alcohol, shake, and let sit 8 weeks. how economical is that?!

photo (28)

helpful resources:  joy the bakerspoonforkbacon, and beanilla.