Sunday, April 27, 2008


WOO HOO!! We've been married ONE WHOLE YEAR, as of today, April 27, 2008! To celebrate our first wonderful year of marriage, we are off in the woods camping this weekend, and hopefully catching some fish!! Here are some photos from the big day and the BEAUTIFUL ten days we spent in Tahiti on a truly amazing honeymoon~

Cheers to another many, many happy years!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

BLOGGING BY MAIL- Happy Package Day!

I am vowing to SEND MORE PACKAGES, right this minute. I had a fabulous time participating in Blogging By Mail, hosted by the wonderful & delightful Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. This is a brilliant event where bloggers are assigned a blogger-buddy to ship a package of goodness to! How much fun is that!?!

The blogger I shipped TO is Neha of The Literate and Liberal Foodie in Miami, Florida. Being on a recent health kick, and with summer right around the corner, I went to a local organic market and sent organic goodies of California origin :O)

I'm really looking forward to participating in this event again, I was flipping out excited when my package came.

It was from J of Have Fork, Will Travel one of my new favorite blogs. This was one PACKED PACKAGE, so detailed and SO fabulous!!

Here is what came to me from over the Atlantic.

Three fabulous vintage cocktail sticks!! I am head over heels for these, I love vintage glass artsy stuff of all sorts, so these were my favorite treasure in the package...even though EVERYTHING was awesome, as you'll see!

SMARTIES! Here in the US we have a sweet called Smarties, they are a little, sort of tart sugary candy, I like our Smarties, but these were CHOCOLATE, so these may be my #1 smartie now :)

J had checked out our blog before sending the package, and went on a search for a wiener-dog cookie cutter!! As I mentioned around the Holidays I don't own ANY cookie cutters and have been wanting to find one like this for a while! Leela & I have not made cookies with it just yet but we're planning to...

Especially because of these cool BONE cookie cutters! Leela's turning FIVE this October so I think we'll make her some fun gluten free (she is allergic) cookie-biscuits in these cute shapes!

WOO HOO!! A COOKBOOK!!!! We live in a pretty small apartment, with very little cookbook storage, so this is fantastic because I have never made any of Nigel Slater's recipes and it is his first book, and the perfect size!

Mini Cheddars~ I shared the Smarties with my co-workers, but hoarded this bag of Mini-Cheddar crackers until I got home so Nate would be sure to get at least one. I adore cheesy snacks and these were yummy! (although J mentioned the flavor has been "improved" since she was a kid), much like the Chex Mix they sell here in the store...

Alessi coffee spoons~ adorable heart shaped spoons!! I have an espresso maker that I love dearly and these little spoons will be so sweet when serving espresso after a little dinner get together! J suggested using them for rich chocolate deserts, which I will definitely do!

Gingerbread man cookie cutter & candles (the candles are behind the spoon-holding cookie cutter). This package really started me with a good arsenal of cookie cutters. There will be some fun cookie decorating around here this Christmas!! Nate thought the candles were candy, they are so cute, but fortunately asked before he ate one :)

Cupcake charm~ what a sweet lil' charm!! I shared this one with Lee and let it decorate her collar!! :O)

Little Lady bug clips to keep it all together!! These are super cute and perfect place holders in cookbooks!

Thank you so much J, for a wonderful package!! And thanks to Stephanie for a wonderful event, I can't wait for the next BBM exchange! :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pancakes for Nate

We're big fans of a big breakfast. We like waffles, pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs cooked a million ways, French toast, you name it, we love it. After a big, beautiful wedding we attended on a Saturday night recently, we decided that some homemade pancakes would help bring us back to life on Sunday morning. I try to bake from scratch as much as possible, but I do still use mixes from time to time and depending on the circumstances. This time, per Nate's request, we made a batch of flap-jacks from scratch and they were DELICIOUS!! I had just enough buttermilk leftover from something else, and got to use it before it went bad, which was awesome :)

Seeing as I do not have a generations-old top-secret family buttermilk pancake recipe that I make all the time, I went digging around the Internet and found THIS RECIPE on All Recipes.
It's titled "Truck-Stop Buttermilk Pancakes" and with a name like that, you know they'd better be good!!

This has been scaled to 4 servings

"Truck Stop Buttermilk Pancakes"
Source: All Recipes

2 eggs
1/2 c milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 2/3 c buttermilk
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 Tbsp and 2 tsp sugar

In a large bowl whisk eggs, butter and milks. In another bowl combine all dry ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined. Adjust the batter thickness if needed by suing more flour (to make them thicker) or more buttermilk (if they seem too thick). (I didn't need to add a thing- they looked pretty good!)

Heat a large skillet or non-stick griddle to medium/medium-high heat. I use a ladle to pour out the flapjacks onto the griddle. When bubbles start appearing all over the "raw" side of the pancake (facing you) check the "doneness" of the cooked side with a spatula and flip when they are browned to your liking (some peeps like them super golden brown, while others may prefer a lighter pancake).

We served these with good ole butter and syrup, but they would be awesome with some fruit! This was a great, easy recipe that I will be using again. The pancakes were fluffy and delicious and they definitely helped our hangovers!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie~Marshmallow Madness

Hooray for making new things for the first time! When I first joined Tuesdays With Dorie and bought the "Baking: From My Home to Yours" cookbook by Dorie Greenspan, this recipe jumped out at me immediately! I have been very anxious to attempt homemade marshmallows, this was really exciting! So again, HOORAY!!! For this week's TWD recipe, JUDY of JUDY'S GROSS EATS has selected Dorie's Marshmallows! Pages 404-405 of the book, "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. To see the full recipe visit Judy's Blog, or the TWD Blogroll (many of the members will post the full recipe along with their GORGEOUS photos of marshmallows) OR even better, if you have not already, go buy this awesome book!!

My experience with the "mallows" was not so mellow. I think the recipe is good, and I did really enjoy the challenge of making something I have never attempted before, but we still ran in some problems this go around and I'd give our end result a C+ at best.
I was very excited that this was such an intriguing concept that Nate (even on a weeknight) could not resist helping me with this fabulous experiment.
Armed with my spanking new candy thermometer, we measured our ingredients and got to makin' mallows. Because this was a first attempt at such a delightful sweet- I decided we'd make the plain vanilla mallows, and save the juicin' it up for next time.

Nate (even though I was meddling and poking around) manned the sugar and thermometer, while I prepped the gelatin and egg whites. Before the sugar mix had reached the proper temperature, it started to caramelize and so we pulled it off. At that point I think the egg whites were ALMOST ready but another minute or two would not have been a bad thing. So onward we trudged, mixing everything together and spreading the sweetness on to our prepped cookie sheet (which ended up being a jelly roll pan, because that was our best bet with the higher sides...).
We used some ramikins to prop up the parchment paper, and because we were doing this at 10:00pm on a weeknight like lunatics, we left them to set overnight. I opted for a sharp knife to cut them in squares, using tons of cornstarch all the way. I read about one of our brilliant TWD'ers using a powdered sugar/cornstarch combo which I will definitely try next time. Because of the sugar mix getting caramelly these were not snow-white in color, and I think I'd use a little less vanilla next time, but that's just my taste. However, they were squishy and made for some fun photos and a good adventure story. I will attempt the "regular" mallows a few more times before I get tricky with the other flavors.

Enjoy all the beautiful mallows by visiting the newly beautified Tuesdays With Dorie Homepage

My BEST FRIEND is getting married this coming weekend and the weekend after that Nate and I will be off on a camping trip to celebrate our first wonderful year of marriage!! So please go to the TWD site for the next couple Tuesdays to check out what's crackin', I may not be back until May (but sometimes I am able to squeeze it in there, so we'll see!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Strips

I've been looking forward to making these for a loooooong time! I first saw this brilliant twist on boneless buffalo goodness on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations last year. I am still dying to try the blue cheese orzo she made as a side dish, because it sounds INCREDIBLE!!! As mentioned in previous posts and in everyday conversation when ever I get a chance to work it in there, I LOVE BUFFALO WINGS!!!! Seriously. I think I could be in a wing-eating contest and seriously put some LARGE MEN to shame. Nate and I have been working on keeping our weeknight eating on the healthy tip as much as possible, and I was thrilled when I got home from the gym last week and realized I had all the ingredients to make this SUPER EASY, and mucho delicious dinner, full of buffalo-y-goodness!!!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Strips
Adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations (see link above)
Measurements are approximate

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 c bread crumbs
2-3 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of Kosher Salt
Black pepper to taste
1 bottle FRANK'S RED HOT Hot sauce

Place the chicken strips in a large freezer bag and cover liberally with hot sauce.
Marinate in the refrigerator 1-4 hours. In a medium bowl mix the bread crumbs, cayenne, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Pre-heat oven to 425.
Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Using a fork, remove the strips from the hot sauce one at a time and coat with the bread crumb and spice mix. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes flipping half way through. I didn't have enough hot sauce left to coat the strips after baking, but I drizzled a bit over them. I love dunking my wings in blue cheese or ranch dressing, but that kind of kills the purpose of making a healthier version of these buffalo goodies. So, I like to use 1/2-3/4 c. of either non-fat plain yogurt or non-fat sour cream (which ever is on hand) and mix in 1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, a pinch of salt, a little black pepper, and a dash of the Franks red-hot sauce This makes a slightly "lighter" dipping sauce :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fresh Salsa & Guacamole

I love dips, especially when planing a menu for entertaining. Most are usually pretty quick and easy to make and are always a fantastic addition to the other munchies you're making. These are pretty much my usual go-to salsa & guacamole recipes that I've been using for a long time. I made these for a party so they are scaled for a group of 15+, but can be made in lil batches too.

Party Salsa
8 large firm Roma tomatoes
1 large sweet onion
about 1/4 of a bunch of cilantro
1 large jalapeno (seeds & most of membrane removed, leave a little for some heat)
1-2 chopped cloves of garlic
1/2-1 tsp Kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
a dash or two of hot sauce

Chop tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and place in a large bowl. Add garlic, salt and lime juice. Stir well and refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.

8 ripe avocados, cut into small pieces
1/2 chopped sweet white onion
1 jalapeno, most of membrane & seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tsp hot sauce
salt to taste
lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro chopped

Place avocados, onion, hot sauce, 1/2 lemon juice, cilantro, hot sauce and salt into a bowl. Mix with a potato masher until well combined, add a little more lemon juice but don't let the guac get too mushy. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I know this is not really related to cooking or baking, but it's all about the Sweet Life- and one of the things that makes OUR lives so sweet, is our lil'baby;


Back in 2005 we had a blast at The Wiener Nationals, a super fabulous wienie race in Los Alamitos, CA. Proceeds from this even go to the Seal Beach Animal Care Center.
We rallied the troops, ironed up a gang of "TEAM LEELA 2005" t-shirts, and headed down to the track. Leela may not have won her heat that day, but she won the hearts of dozens and proved that she has what it takes to come back and WIN!

This marks our FIRST EVER YOU-TUBE VIDEO! One of the ways to submit our entry for Leela to compete in this years race was to post a You-Tube video and send it in to the judges. Nate created this DVD that will hopefully win Leebean a spot on the starting line.
Click on the link for LEELA'S RACE ENTRY 2008 to scope out our superstar!! (it's about a minute or two long so you can stop watching when it goes black near the two minute mark- we're still perfecting the You Tube thing ;)

Hopefuly we'll all be back at Los Alamitos cheering her on this July (the 19th to be exact!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie~Gooey Chocolate Cakes

OOOOHHHHH YAAAAAAHHHHH! Who doesn't want a personal molten chocolate gooey cake? Feel free to ask, I don't know the answer, because I don't think anyone I know would turn down one of these bad-boys.
This marks my whooping comeback to the wonderful baking brigade Tuesdays With Dorie. My big birthday month has come and gone, and I am back in the kitchen, and back in the mix (finally)!

A HUGE thanks to LEIGH of LEMON TARTLET, who chose this rockin' recipe! I LOVE CHOCOLATE, LOVE CAKE and LOVE anything GOOEY. As usual I loved reading Dorie's intro- noting that she prefers to use the disposable muffin tins and even keeps it "green" by washing them in the dishwasher- who knew that was possible?! Answer: I!

This is a simple and totally glamorous desert that is a big hit for a dinner party (I made molten cakes previously,HERE, for a dinner party we had around New Year's Eve.)
And while this desert, as Dorie notes in the side column, is best enjoyed right out of the oven, it can be wrapped and enjoyed the next day. Since Nate and I have been on the fitness tip, I made these babies last Thursday night because last Friday was my homie Natalie's Birthday! This worked out famously because Nate and I split one (after it's close-up) when they were hot and amazing, and the next day my co-workers enjoyed them with a little vanilla ice cream, not gooey, but still oh-so-delicious!!

For the recipe, go out and buy BAKING; From My Home To Yours By: Dorie Greenspan. Or pop on over to LEMON TARTLET to scope it out right now!