Fig, Bacon, & Blue Cheese Salad

Fig, Bacon, & Blue Cheese Salad with Fig Balsamic Dressing | Will Cook For Friends

You know when people say, “wow, this tastes delicious! And I don’t even like _____ ingredient!”

I can’t help but cringe a little. I get the sentiment, I really do, but I can’t help but think… I love _____ ingredient. I love it in all its tasty gloriousness. So if you hate it, but like the dish? That must not be saying much for the use of the ingredient.

Now, I know this isn’t fair, because usually what people mean when they say this is, “I’ve never had _____ prepared in such a delicious way.” Which is a lovely compliment. But I can’t help but be skeptical when I hear those words: I don’t even like ______.

Then there’s me, who have never, ever said those words in my life. Oh, except the other day, when I posted a photo of this salad on my facebook page with these words: “You guys, I don’t even like blue cheese, and I CANNOT GET ENOUGH of this salad.”

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Blackberry Soda with Homemade Blackberry Syrup

Blackberry Soda with Homemade Blackberry Syrup | Will Cook For Friends

It’s been drink-y kind of weather lately. You’ve probably noticed, based on the sheer number of beverages appearing on this here blog. Actually, by that logic, it’s been a drink-y kind of year. You remember that first cocktail recipe I posted around Thanksgiving last year? I’ve made almost a dozen more since then. Which is strange, because I’m not a big drinker.

I usually include a non-alcoholic version whenever I write a cocktail recipe, but this time I thought I’d do it the other way around. Because really, on an average Tuesday afternoon, I’m not sipping a rhubarb mojito, or a grilled peach & rosemary prosecco… I’m sipping a soda. A soda that I might, maybe, possibly pour some rum or tequila into when I have friends over on the weekends.

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Grilled Peach & Rosemary Prosecco

Peach & Rosemary Prosecco

Dear Peaches,

Please don’t leave. I know my pinterest feed has been hit by a tidal wave of pumpkin this, and pumpkin that, and the whole internet is a’buzz with this collective push for summer to be over and fall to be here, but really? It’s only August. And just last week, I found myself stopped at a roadside stand, pressing your blushing, sun-kissed skin to my nose and inhaling big, deep breaths of your sweet perfume.

Before the leaves start to turn, and the nights get cool, and the people start singing the praises of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte — be a peach, and stay summer just a little longer. Okay?

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Summer Berry Galette with Lemon & Thyme

Summer Berry Galette with Lemon and Thyme | Will Cook For Friends

Like most people who enjoy food and cooking, I love Julia Child. Yes, she was a little before my time — I grew up watching Good Eats, not The French Chef — but Julia Child’s sensibilities about food were still a prominent part of my learning to cook, and are still more relevant than ever.

Last Friday would have been Julia’s hundred and second birthday, and in honor of her I thought I’d share some of my favorite Julia Child quotes. Also, the recipe for this summer berry galette, which I think is fitting because it is both very simple, and very French.

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Sparkling Cherry Limeade with Homemade Maraschino Cherries

Sparkling Cherry Limeade with Homemade Maraschino Cherries

I am a huge fan of homemade sodas. In moments, I can stir together a flavorful simple syrup, chill it down, and stir it into a glass of sparkling water for a refreshing drink.

The thing is, I’m a snob. I don’t like most regular sodas, because I find them cloyingly sweet (although I admit to drinking a root beer every now and then, especially if there’s ice cream involved). With homemade syrups, I can control the sweetness, and create nearly any flavor I want. It doesn’t hurt that their made with real sugar, either, instead of that high-fructose corn syrup nonsense.

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Homemade Maraschino Cherries {DIY Cocktail Cherries}

Homemade Maraschino Cherries | Will Cook For Friends

There are very few time when I am really, truly glad to live in Michigan, with its bitter winters and humid summers, but cherry season is one I am smitten with.

The trouble with fresh Michigan cherries is, I never, ever make anything with them. No sooner does a bag of cherries enter my house, and I’ve eaten every last one.

I have this nostalgic memory of standing on the front porch of my parent’s house spitting cherry pits over the railing. While other kids were having watermelon seed spitting competitions, my brother and I had our cherries.

Nowadays, I stand in my kitchen, spitting pits directly into the trash bin. Less glamorous, for sure, but no less wonderful. It’s pretty much what I always hoped being a grown-up would be like.

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Go Gluten Free Pumpkin Ravioli

Last week, I shared this photo on facebook:

Go Gluten Free Magazine

It was just a normal Friday afternoon, walking through Whole Foods, when what do I see staring back at me in the checkout lane?

My photo on the cover of a magazine! Not a photo of me, of course, but a photo I had taken, all smooth and satiny and printed on real, physical paper and everything.

I’m pretty sure my squeals of delight caught the attention of more than a few shoppers, but I didn’t care one bit.

I have been so excited for this moment, ever since Go Gluten Free contacted me a few months back and asked if I’d be interested in shooting the cover of their fall issue. (Interested? Me? Hmm, lemme think about that… YES.) I was so eager to share my excitement with the world, but at the same time I was too afraid to say anything because… what if they didn’t like my work? What if something went wrong? What if I totally botched the photos? What if my recipe SUCKED?

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Grilled Pineapple & Jalapeno Mezcal Margarita

Grilled Pineapple & Jalapeno Mezcal Margarita | Will Cook For Friends

You guys. This is it. I finally bought a grill. This has been on my wish list for years, and now my wish has come true. I basically spent two hours dancing around the yard when I finished assembling it.

Now, yes, it’s true, I’ve shared grilling recipes here before… but those have always been made on borrowed equipment, and even — *gasp* — a friend’s panini press once. I know, I’m not proud.

But now I have a grill of my own. Shiny new, not a spatter of grease to be seen. And what, pray tell, do you think was the first thing I would grill on it? A fat, juicy, inaugural steak, perhaps? Or maybe some burgers to break it in? No.

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Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Pupcakes {Happy Birthday Neko!}

Neko's First Birthday | Will Cook For Friends

Neko turned one over this past weekend, which, according to the internets, is like fifteen in dog years. So… I guess that makes him a teenager, now?

That certainly explains why his room is so messy. And he never returns my texts. Why doesn’t he love me anymore? *sobs*

Just kidding. This is why pets are awesome.

Seeing as Neko is, well, a dog, he couldn’t have cared less that Saturday was his birthday. I had put a party hat on him and was taking pictures, so as far as he knew it was just like any other day. That is, until I gave him these pupcakes.

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta (Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

It’s that time of year again. The time when it is too hot to cook, and everyone and their brother are trying to pawn off their zucchini surplus on unsuspecting bystanders like myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love zucchini… but pounds upon pounds of it can be a bit much to handle when I can’t turn my oven on.

Enter, zucchini pasta. Raw, vegan, gluten-free, and almost as much fun to make as it is to eat.

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