Hey there! Welcome to Away From The Box. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m Sarah, the recipe developer, food photographer, and writer behind this food blog.

Here you’ll find recipes that celebrate the joy of eating and are suited for entertaining, whether your event is a date night, dinner party, or a big shindig.

While this is not a healthy food blog, we don’t want our friends with dietary needs to go hungry, so I include vegetarian and vegan dishes for party spreads too.

About Sarah

As for me, well, I’m a non-binary, neurodivergent foodie.

Growing up, I lived for the epic holiday block parties my grandmother threw, with expansive spreads catering to different tastes. However, my family never really cooked. As a teen, I began making brownies for friends’ birthdays, which grew into a love of expressing myself through food.

Taking inspiration from Anthony Bourdain, I found myself exploring the poetry and human connection involved in sharing such a sensual experience.

So when I started living on my own in 2010, hungry, unable to bake more than boxed brownie mix, and broke af, I set out to learn how to cook.

I pored through cookbooks and online recipes, experimenting and improving, and by 2012 my apartment became known as the party place – a place to eat, drink, sing and be merry.

Then, in 2015, I joined a cookbook swap group where we cooked from books and shared our photos online. Members of the group were impressed with my photography and encouraged me to start a blog. Thus, Away From The Box was born in the Spring of 2016!

Eating is an incredibly sensual experience – cooking for others is a powerful way to express love.

Houston > Seattle

Both the site and my personal life have undergone several changes. In 2018, two years after launching the blog, I relocated from Houston to Seattle, Washington.

I chose to simplify my life, transitioning from a two-story house to a compact city apartment and selling most of my possessions. Nowadays, I invest more time in experiences, like exploring Seattle’s culturally diverse and innovative food scene. This lets me expand my palate and bring more exciting recipes to the blog.

Even though I miss the food from Texas, I keep my tastebuds satisfied with a collection of recipes from my time there. Dishes like Tex-Mex queso and kolaches can easily be recreated in any kitchen.

person in a black shirt looking down at a shark plush toy in their hands
A person holding a whisk standing behind a big table of food including: quiche, toast, macarons, sliders, and sangria

Sarah Fun Facts

  • I have a long list of culinary influences: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Anthony Bourdain, Rose Levy Beranbaum, and chefs in both Houston and Seattle. I like to find inspiration at restaurants, making tasting notes while I’m there, and apply the ideas to home cooking.
  • I live with a condition called Cushing’s Disease – mine is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. It makes managing a life, let alone a blog, very challenging.
  • In my free time, I explore Seattle through urban hikes, scope out secret concerts, visit dives, attend the odd wine tasting or cooking class, and catch drag burlesque shows. I find cool cafes where I can lay out spreads with my tarot deck, and I support local artists at flea markets. I also go on occasional weekend hikes and explore the tide pools in the summer.
  • I’m a gamer – some of my favorites are The Wolf Among Us, Hitman: WoA, and the Mass Effect trilogy.
nighttime view of downtown Seattle from a tall building, including the space needle in the background

My Approach to Cooking

My philosophy is that you don’t need a formal education to be a good cook. You need to know why an ingredient or step is necessary to the recipe, so you can build the skills (maybe eat a burnt pizza or two along the way), train your culinary intuition, and apply these lessons to other recipes. This is what I aim to do in my posts.

My motto is: always learning, always improving.

When I created AFTB, the focus was primarily on cooking from scratch. I still stick to that, with a few exceptions (certain items, like puff pastry, are more practical to buy considering the cost and effort involved). After the success of my first viral recipe, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cheesecakes, I realized that party recipes were my forte.

Since 2018, I’ve been the go-to planner for my friends’ events, from big bridal showers to cozy holiday dinner parties. I’ve learned quite a few tricks from these experiences, and I love sharing those tips on my blog.

My recipes have been featured in numerous publications over the years, including Buzzfeed, Country Living, and Parade. I’ve also tested recipes for cookbooks, and I’ve been named a cooking superstar! Check out my press page for more.

What You’ll Find on Away from the Box

  • Reliable recipes. I test all my recipes in my home kitchen to ensure they’re delicious, and the instructions are easy to follow. My blog posts include tips for making each recipe and how to manage your time effectively.
  • Curated collections of recipes designed to help you throw themed parties and cook for different occasions. Plus, you’ll find recommendations for other great blogs to follow too!
  • A newsletter with the latest recipes and seasonal eats delivered straight to your inbox.

I really enjoy blogging, not only as a way to preserve recipes to avoid perfecting them, forgetting them, and then never quite replicating them again (RIP Crock Pot Lasagna of 2014), but also as a way to share a bit of myself with you.

By sharing my recipes and the knowledge I’ve gained planning events, I hope to spark ideas for your own gatherings. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, my goal is to simplify your party meal prep, making it easier for you to relax and enjoy the occasion.

Thanks for joining me—I’m stoked to see the incredible dishes you’ll whip up next!

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My Favorite Recipes