While we’ve been enjoying every minute of summer thus far, I can’t help but look forward to the arrival of Fall. It’s my favorite season for sure – nothing makes a hot cup of coffee better than a crisp, cool Autumn morning. I made these carrot cupcakes for a friends birthday, it’s a recipe I’ve gone to time and time again, but just never managed to share with you guys.

Lots of shredded carrot (seriously, you’ll think “this much?”)and chopped walnuts are mixed in to a tender spice cake, for a taste that will definitely have you wanting more of cooler temperatures. For the garnish, I made candied carrot curls. Though they were a little bit time consuming, they were a totally awesome garnish that tasted great. Jon and I were munching on the leftovers all night.

Not that we’ve met a cupcake we didn’t like, everyone seemed to enjoy these more than usual. I had about 6 left after getting the birthday boy his order, and waited until the next day to take a photo. When I came downstairs with the plate of cupcakes, it was if a hoard of locusts had descended upon me. Crumbs, on a spinning plate, I tell ya. Enjoy these, guys!

Today marks the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad. London 2012. I always look forward to the Olympics – something about everyone coming together to compete and celebrate. The stories of sportsmanship that arise every year are so moving. I had the opportunity to attend the equestrian events in Atlanta 1996, and it’s something I’ll never forget. My mom and myself went, along with my best friend’s family. The bustling streets filled with people of all different nationalities and cultures; I was only 13 at the time, but I still felt connected to something so much larger than myself. I guess that’s what the Olympic Games are about, really.

And, London. London! What a fabulous city to be hosting. So rich in history and lore, the UK is at the top of my travel bucket list. So, for today’s post I wanted to share something that was a nod to this great city – and fish and chips immediately came to mind. I don’t fry fish often, usually preferring to pan-sear or grill it. But, we like to indulge in a good old-fashioned fish fry once in a while! I chose cod, which is a traditional choice for this dish. But haddock, flounder, or tilapia would be fine too. I recommend using a full-flavored beer in the batter, a hoppy IPA is always my go-to choice for this application.

Good luck to all the competitors these next couple of weeks, and go Team USA! Looking forward to curing up with our family tonight and watching the Parade of Nations and the lighting of the torch. Below you’ll find a picture of myself in Atlanta, circa ’96. Right in the thick of Olympic Village, posting next to a full chrome Chevy pickup. I’m pretty sure I was rocking a hot pink fanny pack as well. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

We eat a lot of shrimp in the summertime. Fresh with the heads still on, they are almost cheaper than chicken here. We also eat alot of Mexican, so to combine those two loves into one dish was a no-brainer. I’d had shrimp tacos on my mind, but when I came across this recipe in a cookbook I had the opportunity to review, I put it on our menu plan immediately.

The shrimp undergo a quick marinade before being sauteed, then topped with a delicious mango-avocado salsa and thinly sliced red cabbage for a bit of crunch. All wrapped up in a lightly toasted corn tortilla. Comes together in less than 20 minutes, making for a perfect dinner to throw together after a long day at the beach – which, we’ve been enjoying a lot of these days.

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Berries. Summer. The two words are synonymous with each other! I was so happy to find a pick-your-own blueberry patch in Salisbury, MD (Garden of Eden Orchards for all you locals folks) – which is about 30 minutes north of me. The boys and I went the week before last, and we had so much fun filling up our pail with blueberries. Hoping to get back up there this week to pick some berries for freezing!

These bars had been on my radar to make since they popped up on one of my favorite sites earlier in the month in a recipe roundup for the 4th of July. A sweet/tart lemon bar, studded with gorgeous raspberries? Sign me up! When I went to make them, some of my raspberries were not at their most pristine condition – so, I tossed in some blueberries to fill the holes left behind by the less desirable raspberries that I had to chunk.

These were super-duper easy, a quick bake time – which is wonderful in this “hotter than the hinges of Hell” weather we’ve been having. And, aren’t they pretty? I really do love bars for dessert. It’s more of an indulgence than a cookie, but lighter than a cake. Take advantage of the gorgeous summer berries while they are in season!