Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grilled Garlic Burgers


You really can never have too much of a good thing. We'd purchased some garlicy Jalapeno Mustard at last weekends Garlic Festival, and I'd been craving burgers all week. This would most def work with fresh chopped garlic, but sometimes after a extra long day of work, you just don't feel like choppin', ya know? I keep Christopher Ranch chopped garlic (from GILROY!) in my fridge at all time, it was fun to see their big presence at the festival. Being way too tuckerd out to get too crazy in the kitchen, we used what we had on hand and made a super delicious, garlic-tastic burger.


4 Garlic Burgers~
1 lb ground beef
2-3 T minced garlic
1 T Jalapeno Garlic Mustard (or go with a spicy deli mustard)
Fresh cracked black pepper
Garlic Salt
Kosher salt
Sharp Cheddar cheese (that's what we had on hand- I would also recommend this with a pepper jack or any garlic-cheese you may run into!)
More mustard & some red onion for the bun

Mix all of the above in a medium bowl while you heat the grill (med-high heat).
Form the mix into 4 patties and put em on the grill. We used Nate's 4 flips/no squeezin method (this makes ULTRA JUICY burgers). Grill them 5 minutes after you put them down, then flip and grill 4 minutes on the other side, flip again and grill 2 minutes, flip one more time and grill 1-2 minutes.Do not use the spatula to PRESS down on the burgers at any point while grilling, just flip em gently. Turn the heat off, add sliced cheese, put the lid on for about a minute until cheese gets a little melty.
Serve on toasted buns with some spicy mustard and thin sliced red onion, if you have some time this is a simple GARLIC AIOLI that would be brilliant, or just stir 1 T of the chopped garlic into 2 T of mayo before mixing the meat and refrigerate and use that spread on the bottom bun.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA


If you are like me, you looooove watching the Food Network, it's an obsession (obviously). A few years ago I caught a special about Food Festivals, it was a countdown-style show and all lead up to their #1 pick, the Annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, CA.

Gilroy is not exactly Los Angeles adjacent, but it is easily a no-airplane-required trip. I have been talking about going to this festival "someday" for a few years now (since learning of the it's glorious garlicy existence). Last year we were lucky enough to attend the Portland Brewers Festival, but it was the same weekend as the Garlic Festival, so no go in 2008....

Then as spring got hot and summery, I got an email inviting us to Morgan Hill, CA for a dear friend's 40th b-day. Now this friend LIVES in Portland, OR- so I started looking at flights, then my co-worker actually READ the evite and the road-trip planning was in full swing. I could not believe our luck that the party was on the Saturday of the GARLIC FESTIVAL, and the party spot was merely 11 miles away from allll that GARLIC!!


What I knew going in: there was going to be GRIPS of GARLIC...and there was going to be garlic ice cream and I was going to eat it. It was going to be H-O-T, HOT, like no-joke ragin' in the high 90's low to mid-hundreds hot.

What I did not know: This is a MAJOR fundraiser. I happily purchased a program from a super-friendly high school program-girl for $1 that supported their high school. $1 for a program, that's has the recipes from last years cook-off (stay tuned for those), and tons of great garlic info.
Part of that info was a breakdown of all the local schools and organizations that benefit from the funds raised each year at this yummy event. And (pictured here below) there was a big garlic-torch that noted a total of over $8 MILLION funds have been raised since the festival began.


With California's farms facing serious drought issues, and with everyone feeling the crunch of the current economy, this really hit home and made me glad to be there. I mean the ticket was only $12 (I would have gladly paid twice that for all the good the event does!!)
Another thing I did not know was how we would all turn into drooling children in a toy store and eat ourselves silly in no time flat.


We walked right in and hit Gourmet Alley~
Garlic Fries



Garlic Sauteed Mushrooms ~top~ and Garlic & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (I will definitely be making these, IF YOU HAVE A RECIPE- PLEASE POST IT as a comment to this post!)


Garlic Crab Fries


Garlic Jumbalaya


Garlic Grilled Oysters (YAY OYSTERS!!)


Garlic Chicken Stir Fry


Deep Fried Garlic (this was our FAVORITE item!!)


Garlic Ice Cream (SUPER EXCELLENT, I also want to attempt to make this- it was delicious!)


Garlic Grilled Craw Fish

In addition to the seriously scrumptious eats and fabulous fund raising, there was top-notch entertainment. We arrived a little later than planned on Sunday (FYI, plan to arrive at 9:30, the fest opens at 10, and TONS of people attend...and upon arrival, walk the WHOLE Festival, THEN start eating...those are my must-note-tips!)
In any event, the big cook-off took place Sunday at noon, and we were there, but didn't make it into the grand-stand but did watch from the giant screen. This was super exciting because Fabio, of recent-Top-Chef-fame, was our FAVORITE contestant on T.C. last season, and it was fun that he was there hosting!

The annual Garlic Festival in Gilory, CA is definitely an event you must add to your can't-miss-list. There are tons of affordable hotels near the festival, and even if you eat 'till you bust, like we did and do some shopping (there are loads of fun merchant booths too!) it is still not a budget-buster of a weekend. ESPECIALLY if you live in California~ it's a great way to support an amazing farm-fabulous community that I, for one could not live without!

And please feel free to post any garlic-tastic recipes that you love as a comment to this post!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Napa Valley Grilled Oysters


During a recent trip to the Stags Leap District of the Napa Valley. We were BLESSED to be with some dear friends, one of those friends being a bartender at Anchor & Hope (and two other peeps with us being the GM and sommelier of A&H) SUPER LUCKY US.
Click here to see Anchor & Hope SF

So far what I can share with you, as far as wine experience goes, is that it's a glorious, never-ending journey. We visited 6 wineries; Chimney Rock and Pine Ridge were two of them.

More details of the trip to come...If you want to hear about each winery and details of the trip SOONER,click HERE to become a fan of Sweet Life Kitchen on Facebook , I am posting all the edible, sip'able goodness of our PCH trip on the fan page, as I will only be posting here when we open the bottles and pair it with a recipe~ like this one!

This recipe comes from Chimney Rock, where it was passed along by a local and was so simple we didn't even need to write it down...we paired it with the Dijon Clones Chardonnay we purchased at Pine Ridge Winery. The oysters and the chardonnay really brought out the best in one another (not too hard to do) and Nate & I think this was one of the BEST dinner's we've EVER made.

About the vino~ This chardonnay, from 2007, is a super summery wine. It is very light, and full of fruity-ness with out being SWEET, which we really loved.


About the oysters~ This recipe is most often prepared with large, meaty oysters. Nate and I LOOOOOOVE oysters and try to eat them when ever possible...we recently had an INCREDIBLE dinner at Santa Monica Seafood's newer location on Wilshire Blvd and the Kumomoto oysters were seriously we decided why the heck not- they may not be big but they are DELICIOUS, raw, grilled, delicious.


Napa Valley Grilled Oysters
12 oysters
1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
1/3 a large bulb chopped fennel
1/3 cup chopped shallot
(we pretty much eyeballed this- it does not have to be precise at all.)

Heat up on super low in a sauce pot JUST to melt the butter and mix, turn off heat
Meanwhile put the oysters deep side down on the grill and heat 3-5 minutes or until the shells start to pop open (if one does not want to open- toss it, peace out oyster.)


Remove them from the grill and use an oyster shuckin knife and pop those tops!! loosen up each lil oyster and spoon the super amazing, delicious fennel-butter-shallot extravaganza on to each oyster...
Put the topped off oysters back on the grill for about 3 minutes or until butter starts to bubble and they are all heated through.

Prepare to have your socks knocked OFF.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Angel Food Cupcakes


With all the heavy eating we had planned for the 4th of July weekend, I struggled to think of something that would be sweet and desserty at the end of the day with out being too I thought angel food cake would be light and still substantial enough for our sweet tooth after a long day of bike riding in the sunshine...

I came across The Cupcakery Blog , where Wendy had highlighted the Angel Food Cake recipe from the Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook, which was, as promised, easy to prepare.

We are talking MAJOR egg whites here...2 cups, which is about 14 eggs worth...Wendy suggests just purchasing the carton of egg whites (which I didn't do this time, but that would make it even easier, so I will do this next time...)


This made 24 mini cupcakes and 12 regular size…

1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
14 egg whites (2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 375° degrees and line the muffin tins with paper wrappers.
In a medium bowl, combine flour with one cup of the sugar. Sift these together three separate times. ( I am pretty sure this is essential, so you will need a sifter for this recipe…) Set the sifted whatnot aside and put remaining sugar in a separate cup for later use.
Pour the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment, mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute. Then add cream of tartar, vanilla and salt.
After another minute of beating, turn the mixer to medium speed and gradually add the 1/2 cup of remaining sugar. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after all the sugar is added. Resume beating until the whites are stiff but moist. (This should take about 5 minutes.)Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl. Sift the flour-sugar mixture over the whites and gently fold until all the dry ingredients are mixed in. Using a ladle, fill the cupcake liners about ½ full, or a little less than ½ full.
Bake about 8-10 minutes, but not any longer to prevent the bottoms from burning.
Cupcakes will be done when a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
I made these and took them (un-frosted) with a big bowl of fresh strawberries and a container of Cool Whip to our HB 4th of July gathering at Jeff & Lia’s and they made a great late night (meaning 9pm) sweet treat!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

BBQ Bison Meatballs


Bison Balls. YUM. These are deeeelicious. Bison is a lower-fat, super awesome alternative to ground beef for burgers, meatloaf and in this case, meatballs. Another of my Hollywood Bowl tote-along-menu...these were easy to carry in a pyrex and make a terrific picnic-tailgating-bonfire summer treat!
Nate used this recipe recently and gave it his own twist to prepare a Bison Grilled Meatloaf, which we'll get posted soon!!

BBQ Bison Meatballs
(makes about 12-15 balls)

1 lb ground bison
1 T bbq sauce
1 T spicy brown deli mustard
Heaping 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
a few tsp parsley
1/4 of a sweet white onion finely chopped
few good shakes of each:onion powder & garlic powder
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
bit o chili flakes- just a pinch...

Preheat the oven to 400 and cover a baking sheet with foil (spray it with non-stick spray)
In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well using your hands.
Roll the mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place the balls on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Cook 7 minutes, then turn the meatballs over~ cook 7 more minutes, flip them again to a different side and cook 5 minutes... turn off oven and let the balls sit in there about 3-5 more minutes.
Let the balls cool and place them in a lidded container...squeeze some more bbq sauce into the container, put the lid on- shake it up- and refrigerate, serve em cold.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cold Wild Rice Salad w/ Grapes


Ok, where has this been all my life!? It was H...O...T, HOT!! so I wanted to make us some cold yummy side dishes to accompany the bison meatballs that I made to tote to the Hollywood Bowl. I pretty much used items I had on-hand and made this "salad"...

Serves 6

1 box of long grain wild rice, prepared- but with low sodium chicken broth instead of water, olive oil (not butter), you can toss the "packet o' seasonings" it comes with, you won't need that- set cooked rice aside to cool.

Dressing~ (you'll have leftovers, so plan on a salad later in the week when you make this :o)
About 3 Large spoon fulls of Hosin Sauce
A small (like tip of a butter knife) spoon full of Chinese Hot Mustard
Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil and Low Sodium Soy Sauce (just kept adding bits of each until the taste & texture were right)
A dash of sesame seeds
Whisk with fork until all ingredients are well combined

Green grapes- washed & cut in half (I just kept adding till I knew I'd get a grape half in almost every bite!)

A few handfuls of slivered almonds

Toss the cool rice, grapes and almonds together in a large bowl and slowly drizzle about 1/2 (maybe a bit more if needed) of the dressing over the rice and continue lightly tossing (and tasting) until all ingredients are incorporated.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Broccoli Salad


Cool, easy-peasy summer salad. I made this for the Hollywood Bowl excursion we recently took and LOVE this at picnics. It's no Mama-Corrado Pasta Salad (coming soon to rock your world..) but this is an AWESOME salad for big fun stuff where people come to eat (you know, everything that happens in the summer...bon fires, concerts, picnics, etc.) I certainly did not invent this, it is an old school staple that I love. After buying some at Whole Foods recently I made it from my memory of how that tasted.

This is a somewhat "wingin-it" type of recipe, so taste and adjust and taste and adjust and you will be just fine...

Serves 6-10 people
4-6 cups broccoli crowns chopped into bite sized pieces
6-8 pieces of bacon, cooked- cooled- crumbled
1 c mayonnaise
3-4 T white vinegar
2-4 T sugar
a few handfuls of sunflower seeds
1/2-2/3 cups chopped sweet white onion
a few handfuls of crazins (or raisins, or golden raisins- I mucho prefer crazins)
Sprinkle of ground sea salt and some fresh black pepper to taste

In small bowl whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar~ set aside. In a BIG bowl toss the broccoli, bacon, crazins, onions & sunflower seeds. Pour the mayo/vinegar/sugar over the broccoli and add salt & pepper to taste. Toss it up and refrigerate at least a few hours, or overnight is even better!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer on PCH


Exploring your home state is always a good idea, hop in the car, grab a map and start discovering the yummy, beautiful goodness that surrounds where you live! We were invited to a wedding on Tiburon (a FUN ferry ride from San Francisco) and thought it would be fun to drive there up the Pacific Coast Highway.

We left LA on a Wednesday and headed for the coast...ending up in SF by Friday evening for a weekend of friends, weddingness and a brilliant Sunday in Napa before heading down the middle of Cali for a quick drive home mid-Monday.

I will be posting (in several installments) the edible highlights of our adventure, so if you live in California (or close) I hope this will inspire you to experience, eat, embrace and embark upon Highway 1 and enjoy the ride...


BUT first, I will post up those yummy Hollywood Bowl recipes I promised before we left~

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer nights at the Hollywood Bowl

If I move away from Los Angeles there is a top 20 of things I am really going to miss...I am not sure what order that list runs down in, but spending evenings in the summer at the Hollywood Bowl is on there. I know I can always drive to LA & enjoy the goodness of the Bowl, but it just won't be the same. We are seeing a few shows there this summer & one reason the reason the Bowl rocks so hard is because you can bring in your own food & bev...including BOTTLES OF WINE (Hello, that is beyond awesome, seriously.)

So here is what I made for our bowl dinner & concert snacks~ recipes comin' soon...

Broccoli Salad
Cold Wild Rice Salad w/ Grapes
FRUIT!! (I brought one lil container with watermelon and another with a mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries...see below)
Wine, Cheese, crackers (yay Lexie!), salami
Beer (yay Joe, you are a champ, hiking up from the church lot with a Heineken Mini-Keg!!!)
Oreo Cookies (yay Lexie!)


Whilst you read this Nate and I are setting off on a journey!! SUMMER ROAD TRIP!! We left this morning for a looooonnnnggg slow drive up PCH all the way to the bay baby~
I hope you enjoy these picnic-y summer photos while we eat, visit friends, surf, camp and relax our way up the state of Cali.


HAPPY YUMMY SUMMER!!! "See" you all next week when we get back to reality (aka, Los Angeles...lolz)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Housewarming Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes


I am not so much "boxed cake mix" type of gal. Don't get me wrong, I do use it, eat it and use it as a base for other fun stuff. My homie Naomi LOVES Funfeti...and there is only one Funfeti, even if you bust it out "from scratch", we're sure it's still good, but it's not actual FUNFETI unless it has the Doughboy on the box.
She recently moved into a new place and made us all a KICKASS Carribean-Style-Thanksgiving FEAST of a party. I was going to be making guac, but should have gone to farmers market because the grocery avacados were not buneo.


After a memory jogging convo with my mother, I can inform you that this is OLD SCHOOL. We used to make these together (how can anyone wonder how I ended up loving creative food) when my sister & I were little. I thought these would be fun twist on her favorite cake mix, and decided to bring these to the gathering...I was a little nervous because once they were made and gorgeous, I had to get them from my apartment to Naomi's with out dropin the cones!


Fortunately Nate hooked up a brilliant tote using a disposable cookie sheet and 4 plastic cups...we cut holes in the cookie sheet and he taped 4 plastic cups to the bottom...I should have snapped a pic of it, but could draw it for you in a pinch~

This made 12 Ice Cream Cone cupcakes and about 20 mini cupcakes
What you'll need
1 box o Funfeti cake mix (plus the eggs and oil required by said cake mix)
12 ice cream cones
paper cupcake liners for the cupcakes
1 container of FUNFETI frosting

Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners (12 regular size and about 20 mini, so prep both pans...)
Preheat oven & make cake according to mellow is this recipe so far??
Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 full of cake batter and on the 12 full size cups tip an ice cream cone, upside down (BOTTOMS UP!!) into the batter..on the minis just fill em about half full...if you can find mini-ice-cream-cones...then by all means cone them ALL!
Bake according to package for cupcakes, and let cool for about an hour on a cooling rack, with the cones still bottoms up. When they are cool, flip them so they are standing up and peel the paper liners off the cupcakes. Frost with funfeti frosting and decorate like crazy with sprinkles!!



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fourth of July Pie


I initially made this pie with blueberries and cranberries here , but I am posting an alternative recipe to make it with raspberries instead. Both blueberries and raspberries are very much in season and delicious at the moment, or if you prefer, another way I've made this is in pot-pie tins with blueberries and black cherries HERE.So if you are having a get together this weekend for the 4th, this pie with some vanilla bean ice cream would make a great addition, and in it's own way reps the Red, White & BLUE~ HAPPY 4th of JULY!!

I pretty much use Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Anything Pie Crust recipe~ you can find it as posted by Dorie HERE
Blueberry Raspberry Pie
3 cups blueberries (if fresh rinsed & pat dry, or frozen- I used frozen)
2 cups raspberries(I used fresh, rinsed & patted dry)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 T plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a wee pinch nutmeg
1 T butter (cut into small cubes)
Top and bottom pie crust for a 9" pie

Preheat oven to 375 & grease a pie tin (or glass in my case)line with bottom pie crust. In a large bowl mix berries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg until berries are coated. Pour berries into bottom crust and sprinkle butter cubes evenly over the top. For the top pie crust, it's your choice- I did mine lattice.
After the top crust is on securely, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil to prevent burning (I totally forgot that step & burned the crap out of mine). Place on a foil covered baking sheet & bake for 45-50 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown.
Then turn off the oven and let pie set in oven for 15 minutes. Then let pie cool on the counter for at least one our before slicing.

A quick time out for a big shout out!

Getting back to blogging is BIG work!!
Every once in a while I like to post links here to a few of my FAVORITE blogs, and since I've been "away" for quite some time, here are some that I've been enjoying~ and if you are not on over to these awesome blogs!!

Bite Me Kitchen

~by Rose a favorite lady that I've known since we were in high school with a SUPER inspiring, beautiful and fun to read blog about everything exceptionally delicious


~ What recession?! Bring on the decorating!!! This site saves me from tearing bazillions of photos out of magazines and collecting them in a pile to decorate my some-day house. Totally fabulous taste over at Zinnias a true collection of all things fabulous.

Deep Fried Awesome

~ What a great name for a site!! This is another lovely lady I was in high school with that features the best freakin' gift ideas I have ever seen. (for self or anyone in the universe) I've got my office addicted to see what she will post next, and we use it as a reference for our corporate gift buying because it is so creative and really has something for EVERYONE.

Also, here are some classic faves that are the whole reason I got all up in the "blogosphere" to begin with, just in case you are not already STARVING and ready to spend your whole paycheck on gifts or home-goodness...

Culinary Concoctions
by Peabody (the blog that made me have to blog)

Closet Cooking
by Kevin (the blog that makes me hungry and brave to try new things)

Joy the Baker
by Joy (the blog I love to read and drool over)

Good Eats N' Sweet Treats
by Jaime (the blog of a fellow OC girl webfriend, and O.G. member of TWD that has sensational photos and recipes to enjoy!)

If you are spending the summer with a book on the beach or checking out the latest blockbusters- then you need to get yourself registered over at A Better Opinion. By rating the books, movies and video games you love (or don't) this fab site will find opinions in it's database that reflect similar taste to your own, helping guide you to your next entertainment experience with mucho confidence!!

Hope you dig the inspiration as much as I do!! HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!!! Keep an eye on these blogs and of course, on the Sweet Life Kitchen for some sensational summer sweets (and sweet buys on Zinnias and Deep Fried Awesome!!)

Oh! And if you wanna show some love, keep current on my latest FROSTED ~ GLAZED ~ GRILLED ~ BRAISED goodness;

CLICK RIGHT HERE to become a FAN of The Sweet Life Kitchen on Facebook~ That would be pretty sweet!!