August: Tofu Pad Thai

This pad thai doesn’t come from a proper cookbook, but it comes from my notebook where I keep recipes that I’ve torn out of magazines and newspapers, photocopies, printed out and written notes on, or jotted down on the back of receipts. The notebook has no order or theme, it’s just a jumble of flavors that looked good to me. It’s my favorite cookbook, and after many years, it’s fairly hefty with some favorite dishes. But there are a lot of dishes that I still haven’t tried yet.

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August: Chai-Spiced Yam Bruschetta with Crunchy Kale

I first encountered Plum when I was volunteering at KEXP 90.3 FM: before the radio station’s new home was built at Seattle Center, the major giving offices were located upstairs in the Armory, where the food court is. I stopped by Plum Pantry for pre-made salads and sandwiches on my way to my other job, but at the time I didn’t know it was part of a larger group of restaurants owned by Makini Howell. Today, the Plum brand encompasses a vegan bistro, bakery, food truck, pantry, catering and a cookbook. Although the Plum Pantry food is delicious, I’m excited to try something more elaborate.

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July: Chocolate Caramel Crêpe Cake

I admit, I love watching cooking videos and gifs. Everything is already prepped and ready to assemble – it looks so easy and elegant! Although I’ve used the videos for inspiration, I’ve never actually followed a recipe through to completion. So when my friend posted this Tastemade video for a chocolate caramel crepe cake, of course I had to make it but I also had to enlist some help. I’ve never made crêpes before, I’ve never made caramel from scratch, and I’ve never made a cake with more than 2 layers – so this covers a lot of new territory for me. What could go wrong?

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July: White Wine Risotto with Mushrooms

I love risotto, but I’ve never needed to make it because my roommate makes several incredible variations. My favorite kind that she makes is a gorgeous pink beet risotto with an expert blend of cheeses mixed in and on top. I know there’s absolutely no way I can top her recipes, so I’ve found my own in a cookbook that’s filled with easy recipes that all take 30 minutes or less to make!

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June: Carrot Cake Muffins

Fresh, local ingredients make a world of difference in cooking. I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where I have access to farm delivery subscriptions, grocery stores that emphasize family-owned and sustainable operations, and local farmers markets – including the Pike Place Market, which has been operating continuously for 111 years! Diane LaVonne, founder and chef of Diane’s Market Kitchen in Seattle, uses these same ideas to craft meals that are deceptively simple but incredibly delicious.

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June: Homespun Pot Pie

It can be tough to find vegetarian savory pies because meat has been the filling of choice for several thousand years. Pies were eaten by nobles and commoners alike: live birds baked into pies topped with elaborate decorations showed that you could afford skilled cooks and host large feasts. Laborers enjoyed pies because it could be made with a few scraps of whatever ingredients were available, and they could be cooked over open flames instead of in a stone oven. Savory pies are found all over the world, and I wanted to try making my own!

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April: Key Lime Bars

Now that spring is on the way, I can’t wait to pack away my heavy sweaters, throw open the doors and let the sunlight in! One of my favorite ways to get a jump start on summer is with our annual Miami Party: inflate a couple of palm trees, fly a Conch Republic flag, and eat Florida-themed food like Cubano sandwiches. The key lime pie is the official pie of the state of Florida, so this seems this recipe is perfect for our event.

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April: Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers

I have been a vegetarian since 2005, with the exception of deliciously fresh Pacific Northwest seafood. When I go to a new restaurant that has a veggie burger on the menu, it’s usually what I’ll end up getting. Ordering something simple and universal at a variety of places makes it easier to find new twists that each chef has added to make it their own. Are the patties made in-house from scratch? What kind of bread is it served on, and what garnishes and sauces come with it? But despite sampling nearly every veggie burger that crosses my path, I’ve never tried to make my own – until now!

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