Prickly Pear Margarita

From here on out, I think every Friday’s going to need to involve a hot pink cocktail!

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’ve discovered the deliciousness that is prickly pear syrup and I’m not sure I’m going to want to make any cocktails other than Prickly Pear Margaritas ever again.

But seriously, how fun is this color?? I absolutely love it, and once you give a Prickly Pear Margarita a shot you’re going to love it too. Promise.  It’s the perfect sweet and sour combo, with just FOUR ingredients. And since the prickly pear syrup is available on Amazon Prime, the hardest ingredient to track down just might be the Pear William Liqueur (although a quick trip to your local liquor store should do the trick.) If that doesn’t sound like the perfect drink to make this weekend (Oscar-viewing party cocktail, anyone?) I don’t know what does.

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Speaking of this weekend, we’re up in NorCal again today because the hubs had some work stuff to take care of, so naturally we decided to turn it into a little vacation. We apparently didn’t get enough of Wine Country in our short 24 hours there last weekend, so we’re heading to St. Helena today after my man is done with work and going to continue our fun. We’re so lucky to have so many friends and places to stay up there, it makes it so much easier for all of these quick, last-minute trips. We’re pretty tuned into the Napa Valley scene since we’re up there so much, but if you have any special suggestions of things we should do or places we should go, please send them my way!

But back to this Prickly Pear Margarita, because I certainly don’t intend to glaze over the fact that this cocktail is just soooooo good. I was reading an article recently in one of the many food magazines I subscribe to (I think it was Bon Appetit) and they were going on about how prickly pear (which is actually a cactus, not a fruit at all) is a hot new ingredient, especially in the health/wellness/spa scenes is dry, arid areas like Arizona. I was instantly intrigued, and of course turned to my trusty Amazon to see if any sort of prickly pear flavoring was something I could get a hold of. I was in luck! This prickly pear syrup showed up at my doorstep two days later and I was giddy with excitement when I saw the neon pink hue.

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

As I mentioned, this cocktail is SUPER easy and low maintenance once you have all of the ingredients on hand. Of course we need tequila (because you can’t have a margarita without tequila), and I prefer the clear version as opposed to golden (I find it gives me a little less of a headache after drinking.)

After that, we’ll need our prickly pear syrup, and in place of the usual Triple Sec or Cointreau, we use the aforementioned Pear William Liqueur. Like I said, you should be able to find this at any legit liquor store and, once you buy it, it should last quite a while.

The final touch is a squeeze of fresh lime juice, which again is a must for any margarita. A quick shake in the cocktail shaker, and your Prickly Pear Margarita is ready in less than 20 seconds. I opted to leave my glass rims bare (save for a wedge of lime) because I’m not a huge salt fan, but you certainly could add some for an additional dimension of flavor.

I love that this cocktail is so simple, yet such a stunner and sure to be a crowd pleaser. You certainly don’t need an occasion to mix up a batch, but I’m certain some Prickly Pear Margaritas would go over just fine at any number of events…bridal showers, baby showers, bachelorette parties, you name it.

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Whether you make it now or later, you’re definitely going to want to keep this recipe and some prickly pear syrup in your arsenal, ready to mix up at a moment’s notice!

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Prickly Pear Margarita
Prep Time
5 mins
 

The most vibrant margarita you've ever seen! Prickly pear syrup lends the perfect fruity and colorful touch to the classic Mexican cocktail.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces white tequila
  • 1 ounce Pear William liqueur
  • 1 ounce prickly pear syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds and pour contents (including ice) into a margarita or rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can purchase prickly pear syrup here.

Prickly Pear Margarita | CaliGirlCooking.com

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan

Sometimes I just don’t know how I come up with certain things.

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

Take this Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan, for example. I suppose it’s not too surprising that I paired a creamy, vegetable-laden, curry-laced dip with everyone’s favorite Indian carb, but I’m not too sure adding chunks of bacon to the bread is really staying in line with the traditional flavors of that culture. Oh well, that’s what cooking is all about, right? Taking already established, delicious dishes and turning them into your own?

And let me tell you a little story about bacon, and why I feel compelled to add it to just about everything I cook these days (in small amounts, that is.) You see, one of my hubby’s best friends has a family hook up with a local butcher in the Bay Area, and for my hubby’s bachelor party he literally brought all. the. meat. We’re talking tomahawk steaks, ham steaks, sausages and, of course, bacon. It was LITERALLY a sausage fest. My hubs came back raving about this bacon, and the next time we were up visiting his friend we snagged a small pack to bring home with us.

Fast forward a few months, to Christmastime, and we had mentioned to his friend that we were due for a replenishment of our bacon stock. We show up to his parents’ house on Christmas Day, and he literally goes into the garage and comes back with a 15-POUND box of this bacon for us.  So we’re basically set with bacon for life, or at least for the foreseeable future. Thank goodness for plenty of freezer space!

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

Needless to say, we always have some on hand so I couldn’t help but add a little bit to the naan I was making for this Creamed Curried Spinach. (I must also mention that I was partially inspired by our favorite little spot in Napa, Model Bakery, and the bacon bread that’s regularly part of their daily homemade bread selection.) Let me tell you, the end result is nothing short of spectacular. I adapted the naan recipe from this one I found on Girl Versus Dough, basically just adding in the bacon and using my stovetop griddle instead of the gas grill outside. The end result is a chewy and moist naan that holds up extremely well to the whole dipping and scooping up the creamed spinach process, yet melts in your mouth save for the slight salty crunch of the bacon. Delish.

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

So now that we’ve talked about the bacon naan, I’ve also GOT to tell you about this Creamed Curried Spinach because it is out of this world. First of all, this part of the dish is completely vegan. Do you believe it? Well, if I told you I used my trusty cashew cream as a base I bet you would. Seriously, I don’t think there’s any sort of cream sauce that vegan sub can’t stand up to. So, if you’re vegan, I strongly urge you to give this a shot, and simply find (or make) some sort of substitute for the bacon naan.

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, back to our Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan. When making the cashew cream this time around, I simply added a hefty dose of curry powder instead of nutritional yeast. I then stirred it into some wilted onions, garlic, and spinach, and fancied it up with some fresh cherry tomatoes and a dash of red pepper flakes. The result was so creamy and bursting with flavor, I really am giddy with excitement for you to try this.

All glowing reviews aside, I do realize that Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan is not the most photogenic, but PLEASE do not let that stop you. You will be incredibly sorry if you do. Most Indian food involves dipping into a blurry blend of exotic herbs, spices and sauces without silverware, and this is no exception. Use your bacon naan as your spoon and really get in there and shovel some hefty scoops straight into your mouth. I’m pretty sure once you start eating this you’re not going to be able to stop, so get after it!

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
2 hr 30 mins
 

A vegan, Indian-inspired curried spinach dish is accompanied by homemade naan studded with crunchy, salty bits of bacon. 

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the bacon naan:
  • 3/4 cup water, bathtub temperature (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 3/4 cup milk, bathtub temperature (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
For the creamed curried spinach:
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours (or up to overnight)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 8-ounce bag fresh spinach
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. First, make the naan. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the water, milk, yeast and salt. Next, add the Greek yogurt and honey, then slowly stir in the flour. Before the mixture gets too thick, stir in the chopped bacon and continue stirring until all ingredients are combined and a sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place, away from drafts, for about two hours or until doubled in size. 

  2. With lightly floured hands, punch down the dough and divide into six even pieces. (The dough will be quite sticky, so just keep adding enough flour until you can handle it without all of it sticking to your fingers.) 

  3. Heat a griddle over medium heat on the stove. Spray with nonstick spray (I used coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s.) Using your hands, form each piece of dough into a flat, oval shape that’s about 1/4-inch thick. Place the dough (working in batches) on the griddle and cook for about 3 minutes each side, until it becomes slightly charred and feels like it’s been cooked through. If your naan seems to puff up a lot when it’s cooking on its first side, simply flip it once that side’s done and then press down with the back of a spatula while it’s cooking on its second side. This will help it spread out more and cook more evenly.

  4. Remove cooked naan from griddle and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

  5. Next, make the curried cashew cream. Drain the cashews from their soaking water and add to a high-powered blender with the curry powder, ½ teaspoon salt and filtered water. Puree until a creamy sauce forms, adding a tad more water if needed. Measure out two cups of the cashew cream and reserve the rest for another use.

  6. In a large saute pan, melt the coconut oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant and translucent, about 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add about 1/3 of the fresh spinach to the pan, stirring until the spinach begins to wilt. Add the tomatoes. Next, add about 1/3 of the curried cashew cream. Continue this process two more times, until you’ve used up all of the spinach and the whole two cups of the curried cashew cream. 

  7. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer on low until ready to serve. Serve with bacon naan. No utensils required!

Recipe Notes

The Bacon Naan recipe was adapted from the No-Knead Grilled Naan recipe on Girls Versus Dough.

Creamed Curried Spinach with Bacon Naan | CaliGirlCooking.com

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey

Sometimes bite-size foods are the best foods.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are no exception! They’re salty, sweet and tangy, and fit in the palm of your hand. They’re portable and the perfect addition to a cocktail party or get-together (did someone say Oscars?)

I’ve always been a snacker. When given the choice between a gigantic meal that will likely leave me bloated and sluggish or light snacks throughout the day, I’ll 100% of the time go for the latter. Plus, that way I get to try allll of the different things. Don’t pin me down, I want to taste all the food!

Speaking of snacking, the hubby and I are especially good at it on the weekends, and this past weekend (wait, are we still in “the weekend” since today is President’s Day?) was no exception. We were up in NorCal for a baby shower on Saturday, then took advantage of the long weekend and being so close to Napa and headed up to Wine Country on Sunday. We’re headed back to SB but will be back up in NorCal next weekend. It’s turning into quite the frequent commute for us, but we don’t mind the drive. We always joke that we’d rather make the 4-6 hour drive up to the Bay Area than the 2-3 hour drive down to LA because we never hit any traffic.

Anyhow, we really enjoyed seeing so many of our NorCal friends this past weekend. It seems like with the craziness of the holidays and the subsequent need to just hibernate and do nothing in the beginning of the new year, it’s been ages since we’ve seen everyone. Now we’re celebrating babies and multiple engagements and I can’t believe all of that has happened since we’ve last seen everyone!

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are just the type of thing I like to make for casual get-togethers with our friends, no matter where we are. They’re pretty darn easy and require almost no actual cooking, so you can really whip them up anywhere. Might I also add that they’re the perfect things to munch on when you’re sipping on some delicious Napa wine? Let me tell you, these crostini and a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc are a match made in heaven.

The hardest part about this recipe is literally toasting up the sliced baguette to make crostini. If you can toast bread under a broiler without burning it, you’re in good shape. If not, just add the toppings to untoasted bread and these puppies will still taste absolutely divine.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

After you have your baguette slices toasted, simply spread each one with a hefty dollop of chevre (that’s creamy goat cheese for all you non-cheese snobs out there), top with the apricot and pistachio mixture, and drizzle on some honey. That’s it!

I’d also like to point out the absolutely necessity of a couple of things:

  1. Toast your nuts. I know, this technically requires more cooking, but it’s a must for ANY recipe that involves nuts. Just trust me.
  2. Chop your dried apricots. Nobody wants a crostini where they have to gnaw through a huge chunk of something so they can be sure to get a taste of it in every bit. Also, I’m a huge fan of the fatter, juicier dried apricots as opposed to the flatter, more dehydrated ones. They are definitely a must IMHO.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, now that you have the down-low on all that goes into these drool-inducing Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey, I’ll let you get to it! It’s a holiday after all, so you deserve a little something to go along with that bottle of wine you’re sure to pop the cork on today 😉

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

These bite-size hors d'oevures are perfectly balanced with sweet, salt and tangy flavors. Pistachios, goat cheese and apricots are a match made in heaven!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 6 ounces chevre (creamy goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nutmeats, toasted
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces honey (approximately)
Instructions
  1. Turn the broiler on high. Arrange the baguette slices on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until they become golden-brown. Keep a close eye on them, as they can get too dark in a matter of seconds. 

  2. Remove crostini from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to touch, spread about a tablespoon or so of the goat cheese on each piece. 

  3. Combine the pistachios and dried apricots in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of each crostini. 

  4. Drizzle each piece with honey and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Belizean 75

This drink is brought to you with so much looooove.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

I know Valentine’s Day is behind us, but this Belizean 75 holds a very special place in my heart for multiple reasons.

First, you all know that the French 75 is one of the hubs’ and my absolute favorite cocktails, so much so that it was one of the two signature drinks we served at our wedding. I mean, anything involving both bubbles AND gin is a winner in my book. I love them both to pieces.

Second, we first got to taste a “Belizean 75” on our honeymoon shortly thereafter which, although not quite what we expected, did have a few fond memories going for it. This drink is definitely one of them and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make my own version at home.

I ordered the Belizean 75 the day we got back to our resort after being evacuated due to the hurricane, and, let me tell you, after being stuck in a $100 a night eco-lodge that flooded and had no power OR water after the storm hit it was like tasting the nectar of the Gods. Forget the plentiful glasses of red wine and steaming seafood platters that were constants at our Francis Coppola-owned resort, I just wanted this incredibly cool and refreshing cocktail on repeat.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

The main difference between a Belizean 75 and a French 75 is that local rum is used in place of gin, and any variety of local citrus is used in place of the standard lemon juice. I’m not too sure what variety of citrus they used at the Turtle Inn, but I had some blood oranges laying around and boy, did they add just the right zing of color to this cocktail!

I love this cocktail because it is incredibly easy to make and uses very few ingredients, ones you’ll likely have on hand already without requiring an extra trip to the store. All you’re going to need is sparkling wine, rum and fresh-squeezed citrus juice! I would just recommend that whatever citrus juice you use isn’t too tart, since there is no added sweetener in this drink (bonus – less of a hangover the next day!)

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

The blood oranges I used were perfect and lent that lovely pinkish hue. Despite what it looks like in the photos, I did use the exact same amount of blood orange juice in each drink, the pulp of one of the blood oranges was just a lot darker than the other. But that’s nature for ya!

Now I know today isn’t a “special” Friday per se (although if you ask me, every Friday is pretty dang special) but that’s no excuse to forego making a Belizean 75 or two. Whether you’re getting together with girlfriends or just want an easy at-home Happy Hour drink for you and your honey, this cocktail will do the trick. And with another round of nasty weather headed our way, I’d say we need as many tropical drinks as we can get to make us forget all the rain. Am I right?

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Stay safe and dry this weekend my friends! Xx

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Belizean 75
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This cocktail is a fun, tropical riff on the classic French 75, using local rum instead of gin and fresh blood orange juice instead of lemon. The ultimate refresher!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce fresh blood orange juice (or other fresh citrus juice)
  • 1 ounce rum
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
Instructions
  1. Combine orange juice and rum in the bottom of a champagne flute. Slowly pour the sparkling wine over top. Garnish with a blood orange wheel, if desired.

Belizean 75 | CaliGirlCooking.com

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina

The best way to get our daily dose of veggies!

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

I mean, who doesn’t want to get their Vitamins A and C and tons of fiber from a PIZZA? That’s right, carb-y crust and cheese included. How many times do I have to tell you I’m all about keeping things balanced? This Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina is nothing but.

If it were up to me, we’d have pizza for dinner at least a couple of times a week. I mean, I’ve certainly made quite a few insanely delicious variations here on the blog already (see this Pastrami Pizza, this Fresh Fig, Prosciutto and Burrata Pizza with Truffle Honey and this Chocolate Brie Dessert Pizza with Almond-Orange Shortbread Crust.)  It really is one of my favorite foods, but we gotta keep things in check and make sure we’re evening out that sort of dinner, which is a little more indulgent, with healthier stuff like broth-based soups and protein-packed salads. No restriction, just variation! That’s how I like to eat and I hope it’s the same for you.

That being said, if there were ever a “healthy-ish” version of the dish to be had, this Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza is it. So you don’t even have to feel one bit bad about whipping it up on a weekly basis! And thanks to Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe, you can make one pizza that easily feeds two one night, and another one with the leftover dough a few days later. Let me tell you, we were quite excited to whip out the extra dough and have a pizza ready in 20 minutes this weekend when we had so many better things to do than slaving away in the kitchen.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

With it still being winter (and with all the crazy weather we’ve been having in California – I don’t think it’s rained this much in yearrrrrs!) the root vegetables that top this pizza are the perfect thing to make you feel like you’re eating the ultimate comfort food while still getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that they’re known for.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

Looking at these likely drool-inducing photos, you may be wondering what those purple-looking things are. They’re the carrots, my friends! I spotted the tri-color bag at Trader Joe’s and knew they’d be the perfect way to jazz up the monotony of color that orange carrots would have provided. That being said, plain ol’ orange carrots would work just fine if you’re not looking to make your pizza super photogenic.

So let’s talk about the process of making the deliciousness that is this Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina. As I mentioned above, I used Jim Lahey’s popular No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe for the base, but you could easily use your own homemade pizza dough recipe OR even a store-bought, premade dough. Jim Lahey’s recipe does require an overnight rise, so plan ahead if you’re going to go that route. It also makes enough dough for two pizzas, but you can easily save one for later if you’re not feeding a crowd that particular night!

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

After the dough has gone through its overnight rise, the pizza comes together in no time at all. Simply roll the dough out onto your favorite pizza stone (or a pizza pan if you don’t have a stone,) add the toppings and pop it into the oven for 20 minutes. That’s all you need! Your delicious dinner will be ready for you faster than you can finish a glass of wine.

Speaking of wine, my mom is coming down to visit later today and I’m very much looking forward to catching up with her and enjoying a delicious glass of vino or two. We’re heading to check out a new, hip restaurant in Santa Barbara tonight, so be sure to check my Insta-stories for all the deets!

I hope you’re having a great week. Maybe bake up a little pizza tonight to get past the hump? Xx

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This easy pizza recipe is loaded with bright orange and purple veggies, all topped off with a hefty serving of slightly salty fontina cheese.

Course: Main Course
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 recipe Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough (or other pre-made dough)
  • 1 small sweet potato, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups grated fontina
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the cornmeal evenly over your pizza stone or pan, whichever you are using, then roll the dough out on the pan in a circular shape. 

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the fresh thyme, salt and pepper. 

  3. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the prepared pizza dough, then sprinkle on the minced garlic and then the grated fontina cheese. Top with the vegetable mixture. 

  4. Put the prepared pizza in the oven and bake at 450 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden and the cheese is melted. Remove, slice and serve as soon as it has cooled slightly.

Recipe Notes

Click here for Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough recipe.

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina | CaliGirlCooking.com