arugula, steak & cherry summer salad with balsamic glaze.

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wait! i have another summer recipe before it turns to september. 

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this month has been absolutely crazy for me - so much going on in many ways. i meant to share this summery steak salad with cherry a few weeks ago, but here i am squeaking it out on august 29th. 

hope there are still cherries out there to be devoured!

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i discovered that there is a bit of a formula for salads with fruit that really does it for me. and with this formula, it seems the possibilities are plenty.

when i made this, peter goes, "no cherries, please." lol. but he ended up liking the texture/flavor combo. 

i think its taaaasty when adding a bit of fruit to an otherwise all "savory" salad. and it's subtly sweet & juicy!

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salad with fruit formula:

bitter, firm greens (like tenderized kale, arugula, or spinach)

+ different textured vegetable(s) from the greens (example: avocado [i realize that's technically "fruit" but you get it], tomato, or cucumber = contrasting textural feeling from the greens)

+ protein/oomph factor (whether it's steak, or salami, chicken, quinoa, even garbanzo beans or sweet potato i feel add lots of oomph...)

+ mild, salty, creamy cheese (i use feta or goat cheese on most of my salads)

+ a subtly sweet, juicy fruit (like peaches, cherries, apples, plum, blueberries, raspberries...)

+ something briney, vinegary, with bite (like pickled red onions or shallots, balsamic or red wine vinegar...)

+ something small & crunchy (for me that's usually pepitas, but some salads i put almonds or walnuts on top, depending)

+ [optional] fresh herbs (like fresh basil, fresh mint, or cilantro that adds a boost of extra flavor)

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= well rounded salad combinations!

boring salad lifestyle, be gone.

i noticed a through-line between my peach & prosciutto salad and this steak & cherry salad and had to do further analysis. 

do let me know if you come up with a delicious combo that you can apply this super scientific salad formula to :)

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Arugula, Steak & Cherry Summer Salad with Balsamic Glaze

Serves 2

Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 medium steak (I used a thin tri-tip, but use whatever you prefer)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 2-3 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, halved & pitted
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 2-3 TB balsamic glaze (use about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar & reduce on the stove)


To reduce balsamic vinegar, heat about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan on the stove on medium-high until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let it reduce and thicken about 20 minutes, or until the volume has reduced to half. 

Grill the steak on a grill or barbecue, or cook it on the stove. Heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron pan on medium-high. Sear the steak on each side for about 2-3 minutes, depending how thick it is. Salt, pepper, and sprinkle garlic powder each side. Remove from skillet and let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes to allow the juices to rest. 

Halve and remove pits from the cherries.  Slice the avocado.  Add the fresh arugula to a large bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and goat cheese crumbles to coat.

Slice the steak into thin strips and add to the arugula salad. Top with avocado slices, cherries, more goat cheese if desired, and drizzle the balsamic glaze over the top.

Serve immediately!

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happy, happy end of summer.



mexican chocolate zucchini loaf cake.

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wanted to call this "bread," but its pretty much "cake". oh well ;)

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i love me a good mexican chocolate anything. i love the warmth and spiciness of cinnamon or nutmeg, and also...actual spiciness from cayenne! 

this bread cake loaf baby will spice up your life.

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and boy is it riiiiiiiiiiiiiich. 

and dense. and moist. and textured. and delicious! and it's got two bigass zucchinis in it. so it's full of health.

jk. but dzang i love how far those zucchinis take it. they really add to the moist factor.  [yikes....nobody has yet to come up with a better food word for 'moist'?]

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if you're not a fan of spicy foods but enjoy chocolate bread, just omit the cayenne pepper. i think the cinnamon is a must :) maybe throw a dash of nutmeg up in there. 

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also, i am fully obsessed with pepitas on everything. in yogurt, on salads, in pasta dishes, on chocolate bread cakes... 

just over here puttin' some pepita in my stepita. 

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Loaf Cake

Makes 1 loaf

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 4 TB. unsalted butter, browned and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 medium zucchinis, grated (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (+ 1/4 cup for loaf topping)

Toasted Pepitas:

  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 TB. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. 100% maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon


Use a box grater or large cheese grater to grate the zucchinis. Spread all the grated zucchini on top of a kitchen towel and between layers of paper towels to absorb the excess liquid. Weigh it down with a cookie sheet to absorb more water. You could also squeeze the grated zucchini in a kitchen towel. 

In a small pan on the stove, melt 4 TB of butter on medium heat. Whisk constantly until foamy. Continue whisking until fragrant and brown bits begin to form (about 3 minutes). When butter begins to brown, remove from heat and continue whisking for another 30 seconds so it doesn't burn. Transfer to small bowl and chill in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper with excess paper hanging over the sides so that you can lift the loaf out of the pan after cooled. Spray the parchment as well. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne. In a large bowl, whisk the vegetable oil, egg, and brown sugar or coconut sugar. Stir in the cooled browned butter, vanilla extract, and milk. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Add 1/4 cup of boiling hot water and stir again. Gently fold in the grated zucchini followed by the chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into the prepared parchment loaf pan and shake until spread even. Place on a cookie sheet in the oven (set timer for 30 minutes if adding toppings).

While the loaf begins to bake, toast the pepitas on the stovetop on medium heat. Melt the coconut oil, add pepitas, maple syrup, brown sugar, cayenne & cinnamon and toss constantly with a spatula until fragrant and lightly browned/sticky (about 2 minutes). Transfer to a plate and dab the excess oil with a paper towel. 

When the loaf has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and gently press the toasted pepitas and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips into the top of the loaf with a spatula. Return to oven and bake for 20-30 more minutes (total bake time = 50 - 65 minutes).  I baked this loaf for 52 minutes total. Test the center of the loaf with a toothpick to see if it comes clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Lift the excess parchment to move the entire loaf out of the pan to slice it. Use a hot, dry knife when slicing (pour boiling water on the knife and dry with a towel). 

Enjoy with coffee or milk! Store at room temperature covered tightly. Eat within 3-4 days.

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copycat aardvark express teriyaki bowls.

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if you've been skiing or snowboarding or spent any time at snoqualmie pass in washington, you're probably hip to the aardvark express and its incredible eats. 

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the hurry curry and teriyaki bowls are legendary in my eyes. aprΓ©s ski lodge food can be snoozeville & cafeteria-esque, so when i discovered the aardvark and all these fun fresh things to eat, i was pleased. 

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this tiny little lincoln log shack at the mountain pass serves up some super tasty to-go dishes and always allows for a funny/weird/cozy/local/interesting experience. dan is such a character; every time i've been in there, it is a good time - even if you have to wait an unreasonable amount of time, or no time at all! haha. each aardvark experience is unique. 

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dan also tops his hurry curry and teriyaki bowls with a square of this delicious pineapple cake, which i always end up eating first since its in the way of me eating my lunch, but then badly want it back by the end of the bowl. he makes everything himself and hanging out in there is literally like being inside his home kitchen. he always tops my bowl with some sort of thick chili paste when he sees me going for the sriracha. he's right...whatever that stuff is is better. 

these bowls are so satisfying and feel pretty healthy and refreshing after a day on the mountain, or just passing through town!

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they've got a bed of spinach and thai basil on the bottom, some fluffy coconut rice, spicy ginger chicken with a flavorful teriyaki + ginger gravy, topped with crisp cold briney cabbage, freshly sliced fuji apple and tons of cilantro. 

they are GREAT. 

my copycat version of the aardvark express' teriyaki bowls are pretty dang good if i do say so myself, but nothing beats dan's menu and the quirky execution of his dishes. i want to try everything he has to offer, but i always default to the teri bowl!

Aardvark Express' Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

Makes 3-4 servings

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 can (14 oz.) canned coconut milk + 2 oz. water
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 4 TB. soy sauce
  • 2 TB. Sriracha
  • 1 TB. garlic paste (I use Gourmet Garden Garlic)
  • 1 - 2 TB. ginger paste (I use Gourmet Garden Ginger)
  • 1 TB. lemongrass paste, optional (I use Gourmet Garden Lemongrass)
  • 1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1/3 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 of a diced Fuji or Honeycrisp apple
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • fresh Thai basil


In a large pan or skillet, heat 1 TB olive oil on medium heat and spread 1 cup of white rice into the skillet to lightly toast the rice. Add one can of coconut milk plus 2 ounces of water and heat to boiling. Once boiling/bubbling, cover pan with a lid and reduce heat to low/simmer. Cook rice for 20-30 minutes until liquid is absorbed and fluff with a fork. 

Toss the shredded purple and green cabbage in a small bowl with a splash of white vinegar, salt & pepper. Chill in the fridge while the rice and chicken cook.

Filet and slice the chicken breast into strips/bite sizes. Add to a pan with 1 TB olive oil on medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken on each side. Add soy sauce and Sriracha and toss/cook on medium/low heat until a sort of gravy forms, about 3 minutes. Add the flavor pastes (garlic, ginger, and lemongrass) and toss. Continue heating until chicken is cooked through.

To serve, add fresh spinach and Thai basil to the bottom of a bowl. Add a scoop of coconut rice, ginger chicken, & a bit of the chicken gravy. Top with the crisp cabbage, chopped apple, a squeeze of lime, cilantro and more Thai basil. Serve immediately!

You can prep these into jars as seen in the photos and top with freshly chopped apple and cilantro/lime to liven it up when it's time to eat!

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