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Green plantains will always hold a special place in my heart; the night I met the wonderful man who is now my husband, he brought tostones (twice-fried green plantains) to a get together hosted by a mutual friend. Green and sweet plantains have remained on our favorites list ever since! Unfortunately, the usual way to prepare any type of plantain is frying in lots of oil. The oil is annoying to deal with and, can make a huge mess, and probably isn’t the healthiest way to cook something a couple times a week! A month or so ago, we decided to start using the oven more and the oil less, and we’ve had a lot of fun with it. After having a lot of success with baked, homemade potato chips, we decided to try making baked green plantain chips. They worked amazingly well! In fact, baked mariquitas de platano are far easier to make than fried green plantain chips.

Baked Gren Plantain Chips

Naturally, after creating delicious oven-baked chips, I had to create a worthy dip. We both wanted something creamy and garlicy, so we decided to pull out the Greek yogurt and see what we could do. After some experimenting, we came up with a delicious, but very simple, garlic lime dip that perfectly complements the plantains.

Greek yogurt garlic dipping sauce

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Paleo Zucchini “Pasta” with Peppers and Garlic Olio

What do you do when you want noodles but refuse to boil water because it’s 90-something outside and you don’t have air conditioning? Make zucchini noodles!

Paleo Zucchini "Pasta" Salad

I honestly never imagined myself sinking into a big pile of uncooked zucchini, but I think now I like it raw better than I do cooked! Not only does this no-cook dish keep your kitchen from heating up, but it’s also a great choice for anyone Paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, or just looking for a way to use up some produce. Because zucchini is pretty mild, the garlic olio sauce packs a punch. Plus zucchini has a ridiculously large amount of Vitamin C, lost of potassium, and helpful amounts of various other vitamins and minerals.

zucchini noodle salad-2

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Black Rice Mango Pudding

When I saw black rice at the store the other week, I bought it without a specific plan. I knew I’d find a way to make it into something tasty soon! I like black rice pudding and think it’s great for breakfast or dessert, but I wanted to make something a little unusual. This mango black rice is a little departure from tradition, but using fresh fruit adds a burst of freshness. Black rice does take a long time to cook, but this pudding can be served hot or cold. Make it for tonight’s dessert and then have leftovers for a yummy, filling breakfast!

Black Rice Coconut Mango Pudding

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Greek Yogurt Potato Apple Salad with Feta

Is there anything worse than a big glob of mayo-covered flavorless potato chunks calling itself potato salad? Okay, okay – yes, there are many things in life that are actually much worse than that, but I think you get what I mean. I don’t know when, exactly, I went from being okay with mayonnaise to pretty much despising it, but it happened somewhere along the line and now I make everything in sight with Greek yogurt, instead. This potato apple salad is my latest foray into the world of substituting yogurt for sour cream and mayo. It’s a refreshing dish that lightens up the traditional side item while making use of a tasty fall fruit. It’s tangy and delicious. =)

Potato Apple Salad

When you look at this recipe, you’ll notice it calls for a lemon. This is optional, but highly recommended! By tossing the apple chunks in fresh lemon juice, you can prevent unsightly browning. Do browned apples taste different? No, not really. However, people always eat with their eyes first, so avoiding browned apple chunks makes the dish more appealing! As a note – you really do need fresh lemon juice for this because the bottled stuff won’t prevent browning. Weird, huh?

apple potato salad

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Airy Lavender Meringues

When I was planning our self-catered wedding reception, I started experimenting with meringues because they’re “cool,” colorful, and they keep. I knew I wanted some traditional flavors (chocolate and classic made the dessert table), but a couple unusual flavors, too. These lavender meringues were one of my fun flavors! You can use the recipe to create classic meringues, though – just leave out the lavender and they’ll still be super delicious.

Lavender Meringue Cookies Recipe

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Planning your DIY, Self-Catered Wedding Reception

I grew up spoiled. No, I didn’t wear designer clothes or get an expensive car on my 16th birthday – my dad cooked extraordinary meals that we almost always ate as a family. This meant supper was a sort of ‘movable feast’ that might take place anywhere between 5 and 9 pm, depending on everyone’s schedule, but it was worth it. Because I grew up with such great food, it’s always hard for restaurants or catering to impress me. I was never one of those girls who concocted wedding plans years before a groom was in sight, but I had always kind of hoped my dad would be able to ‘cater’ it. In the end, our self-catered wedding was a family effort that ultimately involved not only my immediate family, but also an aunt and uncle as well as a cousin and her husband who helped by putting food out and mixing drinks.

Most people who asked were pretty shocked that I didn’t have a wedding planner. I can’t even imagine what they’d have said if I used the words “self-catering!” It seems really crazy, and I’ve both read and heard lots of people advising strongly against it. I’ll be completely honest: it was a lot of work and some time on the Tuesday before the wedding I wanted to cry, throw everything in the trash, and see what I could find already made at the grocery store. A few cake layers did make it to the trashcan, but I stuck with it and everything worked out beautifully. If I had to do it all over again, I would chose self-catering every time. If you’re thinking of making your own food for a reception or other large event, I’m here to tell you it absolutely can be done, it just takes planning, practice, and preparation.

Planning your Self-Catered Wedding Reception

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Baked Garlic Cheese Crisps

I really love cheese. My family still laughs about how I made up my own mealtime blessing as a small child – “Cheese, that’s all!” Well, we ended up getting a Costco membership in order to get things we needed for self-catering our wedding, and I discovered they have 2.5 pound blocks of Tillamook sharp cheddar. It’s totally amazing! I’m perfectly happy eating slices of cheese, but I thought it would be fun to experiment with new recipes, too. These baked garlic cheese crisps are just one of the fun new ways I’ve found to use cheese! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

We stocked up on canned soup because we expected to get hit by double hurricanes, but then we dodged the bullet, so to speak, and now we have lots of soup at home! It’s nice enough for nights when we’re short on time or inspiration, but (boringly) every can of soup in our house right now is the same flavor! Snooze. Wanting to spruce up soup meals and having  a beautiful, new 2.5 pound block of awesome led me to make these guys. I’ll admit they’re not the world’s most photogenic items, but they are tasty!

garlic cheese crisps

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The Best Tropical Mango Bread

I’ll be the first to admit my initial attempts at mango bread were not appetizing. They were dense, soggy, and the sort of item best disposed of by casually abandoning it at a potluck picnic. Or, at least, that’s how I felt about them! Luckily, I live in Hawaii and mangos are either cheap or free, so I kept on trying. I’m not shy about proclaiming this to be the best mango bread I’ve ever eaten!

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Self-Catering your own DIY Wedding Reception

I’m sure most newly-engaged women don’t start wondering “Can I prepare my own reception?” before they’ve even picked out a dress, but I did. My dad is an exceptional cook, my (now) husband grew up with parents who owned a restaurant/ran a catering company, and I’ve worked at at least 100 weddings and knew exactly what I did and didn’t like about each of them. Combine that with my persistent DIY spirit and you’ve created a bride intent on self-catering her wedding!

Self-catering is absolutely not the right choice for everyone, but it was the perfect decision for us. I’d never cooked for a crowd before, hadn’t created a single batch of royal icing, or ever even made a tiered cake, so I devoted more time and effort to planning and preparing the food than any other part of our DIY wedding. It wouldn’t have been possible without help from my family the night before and day of the wedding, and I’m immensely grateful for their help. I spotted guests going back for thirds, so I think our reception was a success!

the cake

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a series of posts on advice for self-catering your wedding or other large function, the essential tools that enabled me to prepare a meal for 50 guests, and the resources I used along the way. My advice centers around “three P’s”: planning, practice, and preparation. I hope you stop in to read the new posts and that they help you self-cater your own function.



It’s Time to Eat, Drink, and Be Married!

If you’re looking at my blog right now, you’re probably noticing the posts are pretty lean right now. At the time of writing, the last recipe was published on June 24 and I don’t intend to post another one for about three weeks. What’s up with that?

The answer is pretty simple – we’re getting married! The handsome guy in the picture on my sidebar and I are getting hitched, and we’re doing everything ourselves. Yes, we are crazy enough to “self-cater” our wedding. That means there’s lots of cooking going on around here, but not a lot of time for photography and writing! Currently these guys have taken over the kitchen counter:

hibiscus sand dollar cookies

leaf and luau cookies

While an undoubtably large portion of the work lies ahead of us in the week to come, a lot of preparation has been happening over the past few months. I can’t exactly label our efforts a success yet because the reception hasn’t happened, but I’m feeling fairly confident and (currently) not regretting our decision to self-cater. I can’t wait to share my process of planning and preparation with everyone after the wedding and hope I’m able to inspire a few more brides, grooms, and their families that self-catering is feasible. Oh, and there will be more great recipes for folks who aren’t looking to host a reception or large party any time soon. =)

Adios for now!


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