Monday, August 31, 2009

ChocolateBacon.....ya, you read that right.


So, I don't exactly remember where we were or how it came up, but Nate said he wanted to try making chocolate covered bacon one weekend. I thought, why not? It's sweet and salty and I do love both of those things, so why not TOGETHER.

Nate bought some bacon and a big bag of chocolate Kisses (we used a few oz. of the baking chocolate I had on hand too, because we were at a crossroads on the milk vs dark chocolate (I was pro-dark)...

We make bacon in the oven, as I've mentioned in previous posts. It's always crisp and perfect and makes much less mess because you just let the grease cool and throw the foil away!

Oven Bacon
Pre-heat oven to 350
Cover a baking sheet (that has edges/sides to it, not totally flat) with foil. Lay bacon out side by side down the sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is perfectly crisp, but not singed.

Remove bacon with tongs and place on paper towel covered plate, cover with additional paper towel to remove grease and let cool.


Heat water to simmering in a medium sauce pot. Place the chocolate in a smaller pot and place the bottom of the smaller pot in the water, cooking the chocolate, stirring gently constantly.
Remove chocolate from the heat once it is completely melted.
Get ready to make a chocolate mess.
Dip the cooled bacon slices in the chocolate, coating completely.
Lay bacon on a cool cookie sheet covered in wax paper and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours before eating.


When we started talking about this mixture I was give several Vosges chocolate bacon bars (pictured above) I highly recommend you check these out.

I also really like the Red Fire Exotic Candy Bar and the Black Pearl Exotic Candy Bar, but I am sure they are all super fabulous~ and I love giving them as gifts or part of a gift. Fun, creative and delicious!!

Click HERE to check out VOSGES

We made this, I brought it to work (only one brave taker that was totally down with it.) Then a friend emailed me in shock from her office because someone had brought it in there! Like the same week!!
I had to Google it after that and found it is not such a strange thing after all...I am guessing there will be more "experiments" along these lines to come~

I also found these SERIOUSly amazing looking cupcakes over on A Good Appetite blog~
DARK CHOCOLATE BACON CUPCAKES These are on my must try list~

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Snack


Recently I ventured to some new destinations in the virtual world. I created a FACEBOOK FAN PAGE for the Sweet Life Kitchen and also had to hop on to TWITTER and figure out how to be a good tweeter.Last week I TWEETED my favorite SLOW-COOKER PULLED PORK recipe, a dish so easy to make the instructions fit in just 140 characters!

This made me want to come up with more so-easy-you-can-tweet-it recipes.
Then I found this seriously gorgeous, big, giant super firm heirloom tomato. My sister said one of her favorite ways to do up one of these bad-boys is to slice em up & toast them with mozzarella.
That sounded way to good to resist. So here is the full (but still less than 300 character) version.

Slice a firm heirloom tomato in 3/4 inch slices and cover with shredded mozzarella cheese. Broil in the toaster oven for about 6 minutes or until the cheese is golden bubbly. Serve with cracked black pepper and torn fresh basil if you've got it!!

Feel free to follow along on Twitter, as I am planning to try and tweet at least one full-on, start-to-finish recipe per week, and hopefully more often if I can!!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yummy French Toast


We had this at Lia & Jeff's on the morning after 4th of July last year and talk about it all the time. This is a great way to kick off the weekend, which is exactly what Nate did. After a dear friends 30th birthday celebration last Friday night, I needed a little food-therapy Saturday morning to recover! Nate headed off to the store with my single request, "Get some fruit!". He returned and busted out this delicious French Toast w/ a little bacon on the side!

Serves 4
Loaf of King's Hawaiian Bread (you won't use the whole loaf)
3-4 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
small pinch of cinnamon
1-2 tsp brown sugar

Slice 4 pieces of the loaf about an inch thick. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle to medium/medium-high heat. Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon & sugar in a shallow bowl. Dredge each slice of bread in the egg and toss em on the griddle! Cook until the bottom is golden, 3 minutes or a bit more...then flip em and do the same on the other side!
Then slice up a few strawberries and drizzle with syrup! (you can sprinkle with powdered sugar if you want, but they were sweet enough just like this too!)
I love this served with chicken apple sausage, but anything to add a little salty breakfast goodness, like bacon or ham is a delicious addition.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Ginger Steak Kabobs


Here is another perfect picnic staple. We have been spending the last few weeks dining out doors pretty often and have a few more picnic dinners before the summer fades to football! But then...there's FOOTBALL!!! I am already plotting my opening weekend tailgate menu and we are all very excited to be back at the Coliseum for another winning season~ GO TROJANS!! Ok, back to kabobs~ these are great for a summer bbq, pool party, tailgate AND easy enough to make a fabulous work-night dinner, with out a major mess. (mmmmm less-mess, my favorite!!)

This made 7 all meat kabobs and 8 pineapple veggie kabobs

1.75-2 lb London broil, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 sweet white onion
1 pineapple
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper

1/3 soy sauce
2-3 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 chopped green onions
3 T teriyaki sauce

Combine the cubes of steak and marinade ingredients in a bowl~ mix, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
Soak bamboo kabob skewers in water for about 1 hour (while meat marinates & you chop the veggies & pineapple)
Make all-meat skewers with the beef, and then make all veggie-skewers with the veggies!
Grill all skewers for 8-12 minutes flipping every few minutes to grill on all sides, leave the meat on an additional 4-6 minutes for medium-well to well-done kabobs.
Remove meat and veggies from kabobs and serve over steamed brown rice drizzled with soy or teriyaki sauce.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Grilled Picnic Chicken


Sometimes you just want COLD grilled chicken, especially on a beautiful summer night while picnicking at the beach. This was absolutely one of those occasions. In Santa Monica for the past 21 summers, there are free concerts down at the pier every Thursday! Seriously!! So living about 7 miles from the pier in Culver City, we've been biking down there the past few weeks and enjoying some fun time outside and doing one of my favorite things in the world- eating dinner on the beach! It's incredible to be able to be on the sand, on a weeknight, with our friends just taking in the summer. I like cold picnic chicken because it's a make ahead basic, super-easy recipe.

Nate came up with a slightly spicy, super savory dry rub recipe that was really delicious!

We grilled this chicken the night before and it chilled in the fridge the whole day of the picnic, which was perfect for us!

Picnic Chicken

1 package chicken drumsticks and thighs (our store had a pkg with about 12 pieces total)

Shimmy shake these items over the chicken, to lightly coat the skin and massage in~
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Chili flakes (a lil'pinch on each side of the chicken)

Heat the grill to medium high heat and place the chicken on the grill, let it cook 6-8 minutes, then flip and grill another 6-8 minutes, flip again and cook 5 minutes. Then flip again, turn off the grill and cover with grill lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, remove from grill let cool then serve or refrigerate for taking off to the beach for a picnic later!!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes


Ok, there's one question- Are you aware of the show, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network?? If you don't know what I am talking about, stop reading and go set your Tivo RIGHT NOW.
Do heed this warning; you're not going to want to watch this show if you are hungry or if you are trying not to attempt making a blueberry ricotta pancake at 10:30pm on a weeknight...

The episode that inspired this recipe was "Breakfast" and our jaws dropped when the Blueberry Ricotta Pancake at B.L.D. (Breakfast Lunch Dinner) on Beverly, Blvd came onto the screen.
Not to mention that the front of my office was in the shot of BLD's exterior...I have been working literally RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from this glorious pancake since the restaurant opened and this is the first time I am hearing about it?!? Ok, I do pretty much only go there for L or D, and have yet to make it there for B, but do plan to SOON!

In the meantime, Nate and I had to at least attempt to make this glorious flavor combination happen.

We didn't have any buttermilk, but I forged ahead and used my normal pancake recipe, using whole milk instead.. but whipped the egg whites, per BLD...which I've never done before! Fun and flufftastic~


Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes, inspired by BLD in Los Angeles, CA
Makes about 12-14 pancakes

2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 2/3 c whole milk
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
a few handfuls of fresh blueberries

Separate the eggs, and whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. (I use a stand mixer with whisk attachment)
In a large bowl, while the egg whites are whisking sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Pour the milk, butter and sugar into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated, using a spatula fold in the egg whites and add the ricotta in tablespoon sized drops and lightly mix in.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle to medium high heat. Using a ladle scoop about 3/4 of a cup of batter onto the heated surface. Drop as many blueberries as you'd like (I think we did 5-7 per pancake). Wait until you see bubbles across the surface and the bottom of the pancake is golden then flip & cook until lightly golden.
I loved these topped with a drizzle of honey and a little bit o' butter~

I'll have to try the BLD version soon and then make these again!! Stay tuned...


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Italian Kabobs~ Picnic, Party Perfection!


This has to be the perfect party food...well, I suppose anything on-a-stick would fit into that category..but nonetheless these travel well and are super-delicious!
I saw these at the Hollywood about a month ago, when we brought the bison meatballs & broccoli salad. The family in front of us busted out Tortellini-Kabobs and I flipped out!

I decided that I HAD to make my version of that for our next trip to the bowl...time came for Reggae Fest and Nate and I hit the store together to gather the bits for these kabobs~

Tortellini was the one must, everything else was open season on yumminess...
The possibilities are endless here, and if I'd not spent the morning of this Bowl Sunday watching Julie & Julia with my mom & sister, I would have busted out some mini-homemade meatballs for these scrumptious time!


This will make 20-30 kabobs, there may be some leftover bits of one or more ingredients, but they are all pretty good leftovers to have and whip up a good dinner with the next night!

2 containers mozzarella balls
1 large pkg cheese tortellini, boiled drained and cooled
1-2 small packages grape tomatoes (there a lil smaller than cherry tomatoes, which would also work just fine)
A jar of whole pepperoncini, chopped into strips
1 pkg fresh basil
1 10oz Italian dry salami cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut into 1/4ths
1 jar of garlic green olives (either garlic stuffed or a jar with both garlic cloves and olives in it)
(you can kind of go nuts here, sliced pepperoni would be good, fold up and skewer...
you could cook and cool Italian sausage, mini-meatballs...anything you can think of!)


Just start alternating ingredients as shown in the photo~
Then place on a serving tray, or in our case in a foil tray that we could tote to the bowl...and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt & cracked black pepper!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grilled Shrimp w/ Nate's Cocktail Sauce


A few weeks back we made some pretty spectacular OYSTERS and while he was picking those up at Santa Monica Seafood, Nate grabbed some shrimp to go with them! This is just a very simple way to grill shell-on shrimp for peel-n-eat goodness. I love these because the completely scream SUMMER!! Nate whipped up a little homemade cocktail sauce to really take these to the next level.

Grilled Shrimp

12 raw, shell-on shrimpies
2 T butter, room temp
1 t olive oil
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 T minced shallot
sea salt & fresh black pepper

Start by deveining the scrimps, this is pretty mellow once you've done it sounds harder than it is, I promise!


Lay the little gray bastid on it's side and use a super sharp knife to cut a slit (about 1/2a centimeter deep, just piercing through the shell and cutting a bit into the shrimp)
Use your thumbs and first fingers to peek inside the cut and while gently running cold water over the shrimp and your hands, remove the dark digestive tract of the shrimp.
There. Done! YAY!! I got better with practice and by the last one I was an ace- this is not as intense as it may sound all typed out~
Here is a video from YouTube courtesy of epicurious- it does show peeling the shrimp before deveining, but notes that the peeling is not necessary and in fact helps the shrimp retain yummy flavor if left in the shell during cooking...


Heat the grill to medium low heat.
Anyhow, now that your shrimp are deveined, mix the butter, olive oil, garlic, shallot salt & pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Rub butter mix all over each shrimp.I skewered them onto kabob sticks to make them easier to flip.
Cook 3-5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Nate's Cocktail sauce
Catchup, a few dashes Frank's Red Hot hot sauce,black pepper, a dash olive oil, stir all together!

Squeeze a bit of lemon over the shrimp and serve! This is great with tabouli, grilled veggies and of course the GRILLED NAPA OYSTERS we ate with them!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins


Ok, there has been many a dinner recipe here lately, so I thought I'd mix it up, and sweeten it up a bit! This is a light and almost cake-y muffin that has a very mild flavor so it is really all about the blueberries! I added just a small handful of the chocolate chips for fun, but not too many so they took over the blueberry-yumminess. I think these would also be excellent with the addition of a bit of lemon or orange zest~


Makes 12 giant, 18 medium muffins

1 C. Milk
1 egg
1/3 c veg oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1 T. brown sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup/ one good sized handful mini chocolate chips
slivered almonds to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat oven to 400 and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt-set aside.
In a large bowl, blend the egg, oil and milk until mixed.
Add the sugars and mix for 10 seconds
Using a spoon or spatula slowly stir in the dry ingredients, but don't over-mix, just get all dry ingredients incorporated into milk/egg/oil/sugar mix.
Fill muffin cups about half full and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes in the tin and sprinkle with raw almonds then move muffins to a cooling rack.

I love blueberries with honey, and these are very mildly flavored muffins, so you get a lot of blueberry goodness- I put some butter and honey on these and LOOOOVED it~


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dry-Rub Grilled Ribs & Homemade BBQ Sauce


I've been DYING to BBQ. We use our grill all the time, but I wanted to make something that would be messy, delicious and super-bbq-y! Nate and I were in Huntington Beach so we decided to stop at Plowboy's. Seriously, if you live with in a reasonable distance to Plowboy's- get over there ASAP!! Amazing produce at great prices and the best butcher ever. We did not go in with a plan, other than my plan to get a sky-high samich at the deli. As we walked along the long meat cases we tossed some ideas around, but in the end the ribs looked too good to resist.
When we got home I gathered up the dry ingredients to make a yummy rub and learned all about preppin the pork. (read below). This was not too difficult and was WAY BEYOND delicious.


Sweet Life Dry-Rub Grilled Ribs & Homemade BBQ Sauce
serves 2-4 (depends on your hunger level, Nate is a whole rack man on this one)

2 full racks of pork baby back ribs

Dry Rub~
6 T brown sugar
2 T paprika
5 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp salish (smoke) salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
5-6 twists of cracked black pepper

Homemade BBQ Sauce
2 T butter
2 slice (just under an inch thick) of sweet white onion, finely chopped
1 12oz can tomato paste
3 tsp mustard
6 T white vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
4 T molasses
2 T DRY RUB mixture
6 T water
2 T brown sugar


Removing the membrane~ ok, don't freak out. I know you may be reading that thinking W T F? Well it's really no big deal, and if you remember while @ the butcher, I reckon you can just directly ask to have it pulled right off, right there. In any event if you buy the ribs, get home, whip up a dry rub and then read about said membrane that you never realized existed, then here's what you do....I watched this video on YouTube courtesy of, and it was pretty easy to do! CLICK HERE TO WATCH

There...that wasn't so bad, was it? OK, now I just set the ribs aside on the paper that the butcher wrapped them up in bony side down. In a medium bowl mix the rub ingredients with a fork and set aside 2 tablespoons to use in the sauce.
Using your hands work the rub over every inch of ribage.
Wrap them back up in the paper and refrigerate 2 hours to all day.

Now, make the sauce!
In a medium sauce pan over low heat combine all ingredients and stir until everything is mixed in. Pour into a jar or other sealed container and refrigerate until it's time for ribs (this will really get the flavors well-combined)

Heat the grill to medium-low (about 300-325 degrees). Place the ribs, bony side down on the pre-heated grill, close the lid and let the magic happen. That's all you need to do to those. Grill them at about 300-325 degrees for 2-2 1/2 hours.

Take those smokin' delicious ribs off the grill and let them rest on a cutting board for about 7 minutes.
Mop them with sauce, cut them if you would like to and get a big pile of napkins, because you're gonna need em.