Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Vegan Baking Adventures 1

I think everyone who loves sweets should enjoy sweets, so I am doing all I can to hone at least a few flavors that will be delicious vegan and gluten-free options available from the Sweet Shop (our in-progress online store project!)

Because I figure there are a pretty good number of you who may not know anything about vegan baking, that you, much like me, will be interested to know some of the different tricks & pitfalls.

So- hey, I have a blog, why not keep you all up to date on this adventure as it progresses, AND for those of you that do know a thing or two, or MORE about vegan baking- I'd deeply appreciate your comments & suggestions!!

Today was ingredient gathering day. I mean if you're gonna make a vegan cake, you can't just go butter & egging it up- whole different process to create moist, delicious cake with out a stitch of dairy/animal by-product.

Armed with my recipe, I headed to the market.....ok, margarine? Really? Easy!! I've used it before at some point, I can handle that...hmmm, hit my first wall. None of this SAYS "margarine"...so many "spreads",  lots of "65% oil" labels (so what the heck is the other 35%??)...and not a dang thing is going to help me enough to just clearly say VEGAN on it, is it? I'm still looking...

Mind you, I live in West LA, land of MANY, MANY vegans...but this is a baking journal for people living everywhere, so I did not just go straight to wholefoods (which by the way, I may just do on the next batch), but hit up a local Ralph's...so the selection was Imperial, Blue Bonnet, I Can't Believe it's Not Butter, and about 4 others~

So I start reading ingredients...first one- "whey (from milk)" um, not vegan. Second one, buttermilk, also not-vegan....finally I see the top of one of em DOES say VEGAN! YAY!! So here's what I ended up with:

Smart Balance Certified Organic 100% Vegan "whipped buttery spread"

Step one, complete- now to bake the cake!!! :o)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Eggnog Banana Bread

Ok- I know, we've been nog-crazy over here all week. Well, we also had some super ripe bananas so Nate suggested we whip up a batch of Christmas day banana bread. My usual recipe calls for buttermilk, which we didn't have- but we had eggnog, of course, so here's how it went:

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat 2 large eggs, add 1/3 cup eggnog and 1/3 cup veg oil- mix until all are well combined. Mash up 4 bananas. Mix into egg-nog-oil mix. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar and mix. In a separate bowl, sift together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 heaping tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.
Slowly mix the dry flour mix into the banana-y mixture. Crush up  & stir in a couple big handfuls of pecans or walnuts if you've got em (and if you want a nutty banana bread).

Pour batter into a 9x9 pan that's greased & flour'd.
Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Pancakes

Christmas morning is only a week away!! In the fervor of present opening, coffee brewing and all kinds of holiday cheer- what are you making for breakfast???
Here is an easy and festive idea that gives a classic favorite a seasonal twist, Eggnog Pancakes!! YAY!!!

In the bakery, we make EVERYTHING from scratch- so if you are down with that you can use this pancake recipe that we love CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE. If you do, follow the recipe- but instead of buttermilk, use EGGNOG, then add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

If you're short on time and would rather curl up in front of the fire with your family, Bisquick can make a good easy pancake too!! Follow the recipe on the back of the box, but do 3/4 cup Eggnog, and 1/4 cup milk, use a little less than the 2 cups Bisquick (start with 1 1/2 cups and then add the last half cup as you mix until you get the right consistency- since the nog is thicker than milk you'll use less Bisquick)- add the pinch of cinnamon & pinch of nutmeg and you'll be good to go!!

Wanna do this with a side of bacon?? Preheat the oven to 350 before you start mixin up the cakes, cover a cookie sheet with foil (all the way up all four edges) and lay bacon flat over the foil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until bacon is as crispy as you like it!!

PS- You've probably still got some nog left, right? So brew up that pot of coffee you'll definitely need since it's pretty likely all of this started before dawn if you've got kids, and instead of milk or cream, top your cup-o-joe off with some eggnog- you're so festive. It's awesome.

Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010


As always, I headed over to Shutterfly.com right around Thanksgiving and started to gather photos from 2010 to make our annual holiday card. I have so much fun creating this card every year, because I spent a whole weekend reviewing the year in photos...this card captures two of my favorite vacations- the bottom right with Leela and Arthur is from our New Years Eve stay in Mammoth, the top left corner with Arthur enjoying his road-trip-freedom, and the bottom left pic of Nate & me in San Francisco are both from our annual LA to SF PCH road-trip. In 2009 we didn't take the doggies on that trip because there was a wedding at one end of it, but this year they came, they camped, we loved it.
The top right corner photo of Leela basking in the sand was taken at one of our (and her) favorite places to spend the summer- Dog Beach in Huntington Beach, CA. My cousin Nick was visiting from Ohio, so we all met up at dog beach for a day of surf and sun.

Anyway- today, I finally finished stamping & sealing them all up, and wanted to share this card with all the Sweet Life readers too!!

So....HAPPY HOLIDAYS from BETH, NATE, LEELA & ARTHUR and may your 2011 be Merry and Bright!!

Vintage Snowflakes Holiday
For hundreds of holiday card designs, click here.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Party Time!!

Just a little sneak peek at the fun going on in the Sweet Life Kitchen! We are getting ready to unveil all kinds of AWESOME updates, including easier ordering for the sweets you see here :o)
In the mean time if you'd like to order cake pops, pie pops, brownie bites or cookies for a football get together, birthday or the holidays email info@sweetlifekitchen.com for ORDER details :o)

These pretty cake pops were made with love AND a few of my FAVORITE Wilton products- I don't know what I'd do with out Wilton's lollipop sticks. I should probably buy stock because I make lots of on-a-stick sweets and go through these by the case-load. The pretty-in-pink pops are a combo of two sensational
Wilton supplies~ First I bought their white candy melt discs, and then to get the perfect shade of HOT pink- I used the Wilton GARDEN CANDY COLOR set, spectacular for custom color creations.

Wilton products can be found at their website, along with a TON of fabulous inspiring ideas, tips, tricks and information!!
CLICK HERE to visit their site today and get going on a fun pop-project of your own!!

Have a DELICIOUS weekend!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Have yourself a merry little....

It's raining in L.A. right now, like REALLY raining.
The thing that makes this more than a-ok is that it was getta-Christmas-tree-weekend here!! One of my favorite weekends of the year, it's the perfect time to stay in, snuggle up (hey, you wanted an excuse to wear that snuggie from the office gift exchange anyhow, right?) and deck the halls.

On a recent trip to Trader Joe's I snagged some Pear-Cinnamon cider, which was perfect with the pouring rain & a tree waiting to be decorated. We're big fans of their yummy apple cider, that is easy to make into a perfect hot party punch.
Good news, the Pear-Cinnamon cider rocks, we warmed some up and enjoyed the rainy night!!

This time of year is all about a little planning ahead to make nights like this one extra festive....
Have some easy appetizers ready to rock (by stocking some simple staples) and always keep crackers & almonds on hand, easy to create a cheese plate to make the apps into a spread! I suggest stocking up on this cider, and some Cupcake Vineyards Malbec (inexpensive & yummy).

Here's a few preparation-pointers that make it a snap to entertain with no notice~

Cheese-Cranberry goodness for entertaining:
Two items you can keep in the fridge for most of November & December are an 8 oz container of cream cheese & a container of Trader Joe's cranberry orange sauce.
Pour 1/2-2/3 cup of the cranberry over the cream cheese & serve with crackers.

Chicken Apple Sausage Puffs

1 box puff pastry, thawed (keep a box in the freezer all through the holidays- it only takes about 40 minutes to thaw and 30-45 minutes to make this easy appetizer)
4  chicken apple sausages from Trader Joe's (the regular grocery store has it too, just costs more!)- you'll have a leftover sausage & 32 puffs- or just use 1 sheet of pastry and 2 of the sausages for 16 puffs & have the other sausages for later!

Pre-heat the oven to 400
Cut each sausage into 8 pieces
Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 16 squares
Place a piece of the sausage in the center of a puff pastry square and fold the corners into the center- pressing the corners together so they seal together.
Place the little wrapped up sausage bites a baking sheet covered in foil- bake 30 minutes or until golden brown- cool for 10 minutes and server warm.

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


In case you didn't know....we've made some SUPER SWEET changes around here!!!

For the past three years this blog has been my happy place, and I've had so much fun sharing it with every single one of you~
Now, it's time to take that one big giant sugar-coated step further and bring you our very own Sweet Shop, and newly decorated (just in time for the holidays) www.sweetlifekitchen.com .

Don't worry, I will still continue to update the blog, as always and you'll be able to click the BLOG tab on the Sweet Life Kitchen's home page to find all the latest here just like you have since it all began in 2007.

At the moment, we are looking forward to a very exciting December and hope you will be with us through every bite!! Stay tuned, beautiful packaging, sensational specials and of course- what I know so many of you have been waiting for.....SHIPPING, will be coming soon, in early 2011. We're working hard to do this all as quickly as possible, but also want to do everything just riiiiiight, so thank you for your continued love, support and patience!!

We require 7 days advance notice for all orders, just a heads up, and we're overwhelmed (in the best way) with holiday orders at the moment, so if we aren't able to fill yours this holiday season, remember.....Valentine's Day is right around the corner!! LOL!! :o)

Don't hesitate to email us with any questions, any time!! info (at) sweetlifekitchen.com
We'd love to hear from you!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pie Pops~ Sweet Life Kitchen SWEET SHOP

Pie Pops are a fabulous addition to your holiday dinner table, great to bring to a party or give as a gift!

One of our customers ordered them for Thanksgiving and found that two of them make the perfect top & bottom to the ultimate ice cream samich!

Our filling options are based on what is fresh, local and seasonally fabulous! Look for new options every few months, and feel free to email with special requests any time! We'd be happy to help with a custom confection and fill these cuties with your favorite!

info (at) sweetlifekitchen.com

December 2010 Pie Pop Filling Selections

Caramel Apple
Blueberry Cranberry

1 dozen $36.00
2 dozen (of the same) $68.00
3 dozen (of the same) $90.00

Prices do not include shipping, delivery or special event packaging (such as glass containers, etc.) email for more info on those fun extras!

Please place all orders one week (7 days) in advance of delivery or pick up date.

Minimum order is 1 dozen

For “mixed” dozens, as in 24 cake pops;  12 one flavor, 12 another  the price for one dozen will apply to both flavors.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sweet Life Kitchen Sweet Shop

It's that time of year again! THE HOLIDAYS!!!
Since 2005, Sweet Life Kitchen has been baking up gifts, goodies and favors for friends and family to give at this time of year and 2010 will be no exception...in fact it's gearing up to be the most delicious year in our kitchen yet!!

Thanks to the wonder that is Facebook, we've recently had requests for our goodies from friends of friends and family! So, just in time for the holidays, we're offering our goodies to anyone and everyone! YAY!

Since the official website is still in the works,
Here is some basic info so you can order holiday baked goodies~

Pie Pops
Pictured above top left, email for all kinds of yummy pie filling choices!

1 dozen $36.00

2 dozen (of the same) $68.00
3 dozen (of the same) $90.00

Cake Pops
Creativity is the name of the game, email for a list of our basic combos or for a custom confection tailored to your taste or event theme!

Basic Cake Pops 
Your favorite cake dipped in milk or dark chocolate or vanilla candy coating & covered w/ sugar sprinkles!

1 dozen $27.00
2 dozen (of the same) $50.00
3 dozen (of the same) $70.00

For more detailed designs, we are happy to give you a quote via email.

Brownie Bites
Delicious homemade brownies in bite-sized bits!


1 dozen $20
2 dozen $36
3 dozen $45

Snickers or other candy filled
1 dozen $22
2 dozen $40
3 dozen $54

Prices do not include shipping, delivery or special event packaging (such as glass containers, etc.) email for more info on those fun extras!

Please place all orders one week (7 days) in advance of delivery or pick up date.

Minimum order is 1 dozen

For “mixed” dozens, as in 24 cake pops;  12 one flavor, 12 another  the price for one dozen will apply to both flavors.

Email all orders and any questions to: info@sweetlifekitchen.com

We understand all kinds of dietary restrictions and are very proud to offer vegan and gluten free options! These items will be featured as regular “menu” selections soon, but for now email me personally, beth@sweetlifekitchen.com and I will be more than happy to create a vegan or gluten-free cake pop for you.

I'll update this shortly when cookies get added to the official menu, just in time for Christmas!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baby Shower Cake Pops

These are for a soon-to-be-mama who loves the bling! 
I couldn't resist drenching these pops in edible "diamonds & pearls".
For order info email beth@sweetlifekitchen.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat My Blog December 4 2010

It's coming back! You do not want to miss out on this amazing event!! Sensational sweets from fabulous food bloggers AND proceeds go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. 

We hope to see you ALL at Tender Greens in West Hollywood on Saturday December 4th!

Monday, November 8, 2010

SLK Flashback~ TWD Twofer Pie

I made this pie for the first time in 2008 and it is a FAVORITE. Pumpkin pie on the bottom, pecan pie on top- all in one crust. This pie is the creation of baking genius, Dorie Greenspan, and during my summer & fall participating in the Tuesdays With Dorie blogger baking group, I was lucky enough to "haveta" make this pie.
I highly recommend that if you don't already own Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, you need to go pick it up right away- or add it to your holiday wish list!! If you adore baking or just want to try some new recipes- this book is SPECTACULAR!

One of my favorite parts of Dorie's BFMHTY book is the "basics" recipes that are included, like pie & tart crust! It's all covered!

To make this delicious combo of two pies, go get your copy of Baking, by Dorie Greenspan- or follow THIS LINK to the recipe from the original TWD post!

I get pretty obsessed with side dishes and pies this time of year, and there's no way this pie would not be a huge hit!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pie for Breakfast

Great for a brunch get together for friends, or fun to make if you're having people over for a game that starts before noon, this is easy to throw together any time! I actually made this the morning of my 30th b-day party back in March. We all went out to Palm Springs and stayed in a totally retro pad, and on Saturday night had a fun 60s themed bash!
I had pre chopped the veggies and brought them along in ziplock baggies, to really step-up the easy factor.

Here's how to make breakfast pie~

1 prepared pie crust
4 eggs and a few splashes of milk or cream
1 1/2 cups shredded potato (they have this ready to use near the bacon & breakfast sausage)
a bunch of green onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
a hand full of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons medium or hot salsa

Pre-heat the oven to 350
Scramble up the eggs and milk/cream~
Line the pie pan with the pie crust- then press a piece of foil into the pan on top of the pie crust and bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes, let cool a few minutes (5-7 before filling with the eggs)
add the potato, green onion, & cheese to the eggs and stir together then pour into pie crust.
Bake until the eggs are cooked all the way through about 10 minutes (test with a toothpick) ;o)
Serve with bacon or sausage & hot sauce!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Wonder-Leela wishes you a safe, Happy and absolutely DELICIOUS Halloween!!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From the Archives: 2007, Puff Pastry Cheese Cake Cups w/ Pear topping

I've been working REALLY hard lately to roll out a whole new Sweet Life Kitchen ASAP, we are so excited to show you all the new updates!!
In doing all the fun projects that are required to make this dream a reality- I've spent time all kinds of time digging through the blog archives, allll the way back to the beginning! 
This was one of my FAVORITE early recipes- a total experiment from 2007~ So old school in fact I am still searching for the original photos- so my apologies for the little one! Hope you enjoy it anyway....

Here's the O.G. post for a fabulous recipe & trip down memory lane:

These were a baking experiment gone RIGHT. I wanted to create a fun fall desert with stuff I had on hand. I couldn't find any recipes online combining cheesecake, puff pastry and pears...so I improvised this one, Nate is not super fond of graham cracker crusts & cheesecake, which I totally love, so I was excited to see if this worked because I had a feeling he would really dig it! Thankfully, they turned out awesome and would be  a fabulous dessert for dinner parties!

Beth's Puff Pastry Cheese Cake Cups w/ Pear topping

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened and at room temperature (very important!)
3/4 c sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp all spice

2 pears peeled, cored & chopped up into small pieces
1 T white sugar
1 1/2 T Brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
*optional caramel for topping

Spread thawed puff pastry over floured surface and roll out. Grease a muffin pan (I used a 12 muffin-pan). Cut the pastry into 12 even squares (you could probably get 18 squares out of it if you rolled it out more. Place one square in each muffin cup.
Preheat oven to 350.

Place all toppings ingredients into a foil packet and cook in the toaster oven at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

In a large bowl combine cream cheese & sugar and mix well, until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well, then add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Make sure the batter is smooth and not lumpy. Use a large spoon to fill each muffin cup with cheese cake batter.
Bake cheese cake cups for about 17 minutes, then turn off oven and let stand in oven for 7 minutes. Then let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes until removing from pan to cool. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, serve topped with pears and caramel.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Monster Eye Eggs

Here's another simple Halloween party recipe, much like the spinach dip- it's a creepy twist on an easy classic!
This is also a fun recipe to make with the kids- decorating the eggs is a fun way to get party ready.

Boil a dozen eggs, let cool and split in half.
In a medium bowl mix the yolks with a few tablespoons of yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of sugar, salt & pepper to taste.
Use a pastry bag (or gallon-sized ziplock with a corner cut out) to fill the egg white halves with the yolk mixture.
Top with sliced green pimento stuffed olives and use red gel frosting to add blood-shot-ness!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bread Stick Bones and Bloooood

Halloween is a BUSY time, fast forward into Fall, getting costumes ready, making sure you've got all the details on lock down and trying to get everything done while the sun sets earlier every night! This is not of my own invention, definitely a old classic, but a fun and easy Halloween party treat.

You can absolutely make your own pizza dough, but to make this a true time saver hit up Trader Joes and get some that's ready to roll!!
They've got ready made marinara sauce there too, so this can be a fun recipe to whip up with the kids for a costume party!!

Roll out the pizza dough and cut (with a pizza cutter or pastry wheel) into strips~
Cut a one inch slice in the center at the top and bottom of each strip and peel/curl the two pieces on each end around to make the "bone" shape.
Bake on a foiled baking sheet at 450 for about 15 until golden.
Serve with marinara sauce!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lil'Mummy Dudes~ Halloween Party Recipes

Sweet Life Kitchen had the pleasure of catering a super spectacular Halloween party in 2009 and we keept it creepy and crypt-tastic with some really easy, fun treats like these lil'dudes. This is certianly not my invention, I've seen hotdogs wrapped in crescent roll strips as a favorite kids dinner on Halloween. This was a cocktail party, so I needed to cocktail size this classic kids comfort food and make it party perfect. Nate helped by using a pizza roller to quickly make mummy wrapping strips out of Pillsbury Crescent Creations, and then we made like some ancient egyptians and wrapped these lil'smokies up!! I also had the sheer JOY of using my eddible marker for the first time and giving these little guys some lil'eyes~

Makes about 45
1 package "Lil'Smoky" Cocktail weenies
2-3 packages Pillsbury Crescent Creations

Preheat oven to 375.
Cover a baking sheet with foil and use a pizza slicer to cut the crescent creations into thin strips
Wrap each cocktail weenie with a strip of crescent dough.
Bake about 15 minutes per batch, until crescent is puffy and golden
Dot on some eyes with an edible marker if you wanna!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cemetary Spinach Dip~ Halloween Party Recipes

Time to get ready for Halloween! Tune in for all kinds of party recipes that I've made time and time again- easy, inexpensive ways to get in the spooky-spirit!

If you are planning a party this year or bringing a dish to one- here is my all time favorite Halloween dip. I love this because because it's a great centerpiece for a GIANT VEGGIE PLATE, which helps balance all that sugar from the trick-or-treating loot!!

This is just a very basic spinach dip that I've made and posted about before with a few dashes of green food dye for extra grody-factor to celebrate the spookiness of Halloween.
Last year I added the carrot fingers, which are an easy and awesome way to add creepy to your table...attach a little almond slice finger nail using a dab of cream cheese~ BOO!

You can easily double this recipe depending on how many guys & ghouls you have coming to your shin-dig...

Serves 20
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 16 oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1.8 oz) package dry leek soup mix
  • 1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and minced
  • 2 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • Fresh cracked black pepper (just a bit to taste)
  • Green food dye- for swampy spookieness

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl and add the food dye until it is the desired color of swampy green. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight. Serve with  veggies like celery, carrots & bell peppers, tomatoes......

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cobbler on a weeknight

This cobbler is so easy it can be made on a weeknight!
Just a few steps, ingredients it's easy to keep on hand and you're about an hour away from amazing dessert.
With school in full swing and football, football, football happening- it's always good to have a few sweet tricks up your sleeve!

1 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c whole milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups frozen berries
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 325
In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, vanilla and milk until well combined.
Toss the berries with the cornstarch.
Melt the butter in a 9 x 9 baking dish.
Pour the batter into the dish on top of the melted butter.
Pour the berries over the batter- don't mix, just pour em over the batter as evenly as possible.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until cobbler crust is golden brown.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Easy, Cheesy, For Sheezie...

Recently, we were overjoyed when the lovely folks at Pretzel Crisps gave us a bunch samples to try, because we already knew we liked Pretzel Crisps, AND it was the beginning of football season- what fabulous timing!

My friend Erin shared this awesome cheese dip/spread recipe that is VERY easy (my favorite) and also addictivly delicious, and perfect for watching football with!

Here is the original recipe, along with my twists* (you know I can never resist!)

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup milk
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing/dip mix
(*this is powerful stuff people, I'm a little salt-sensitive, so recommend using half a package if you are the same way- you can use the other half to season some burgers or chicken so it does not go to waste!)
8oz cream cheese, softened
8oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8oz shredded pepper jack cheese
*1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
*1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
* 1/4-1/3 cup crushed almonds

  • In a medium or large bowl mix the mayo, milk and ranch mix until well combined "let stand to set up" 30 minutes to 1 hour .
  • This was in the original recipe, I was a little confused as to weather that meant just let it chillax on the counter or put it in the fridge- so I went with on the counter because I figured it would say refrigerate if that's what it meant... thoughts?
  • Add cream cheese and both shredded cheeses and mix until all ingredients are well combine
  • I blended in just the cream cheese first- so the cream cheese, and milk/mayo/ranch mix were all combined, then using a spatula mixed in the shredded cheeses, garlic, cayenne and nuts.

Transfer to serving dish and refrigerate 1 hour for flavors to combine.
Serve with Pretzel Crisps, crackers, chips, and/or veggies.


Friday, September 10, 2010

we ARE ready for some Football

Yup, that's smack in the middle of USC's campus, in the full throes of tailgating glory....and tomorrow that's where we'll be.

USC Home Opener Tailgate Menu
Mini Sloppy Joe's on wheat hawaiian rolls
Erin's ma's sensational cheese ball to go with our oodles of yummy Pretzel Crisps
Erica Courtney's "top-secret" Red Velvet Cake in cupcake form

Off to bed for now....tomorrow, we kick off the college football tailgating season! Can't wait~

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eat My Blog Summer 2010 MENU~

If you are on the fence about attending this months fabulous fundraiser, EAT MY BLOG, on June 19th at Tender Greens in West Hollywood- let me tempt you with....The Menu. Yummmmm.
See you there!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eat My Blog Summer 2010

I am SUPER excited to be participating in an AWESOME fundraiser to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank~
If you are close enough to get to West Hollywood on June 19th, I really hope to see you there!!
More to come, but wanted you guys to MARK YOUR CALENDARS and come indulge your sweet tooth while you support an excellent cause!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Indian Summer Part 1~ Chicken Tikka Masala

In the summer, the Santa Monica pier hosts a glorious concert evening every Thursday. We pack up some good food, vino and hop on our bikes to go lay a blanket down in the sand and listen to the music drift down from the pier while we enjoy the company of great friends and share all the yummy food everyone brings.
With Memorial Day weekend comin' right up, our Thursdays at the pier will be starting again soon. Of all the goodness we brought last summer- this was by far the most, um....well, detailed dish I made, but I think it was also the best- and surprisingly a fabulous picnic item!! I made the the tikka masala, some saffron rice and aslo made homemade naan, which will be the Parts 2 & 3 of my Indian Summer posting, coming asap....

I adapted this recipe from All Recipes and found it very easy to make and delicious, it was everything I wanted it to be~

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup 2% Fage Greek yogurt
1 T lemon juice (fresh)
4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T fresh grated ginger
Freshly ground black pepper & Kosher salt or freshly ground sea salt to taste (about a tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper)
Long bamboo skewers for grilling (soak them in water for 30 minutes to an hour before putting the chicken on them)

 1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
2 1/2 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp paprika
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
a handful chopped cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper & Kosher salt or freshly ground sea salt (coupla pinches) to taste

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, cayenne, salt, pepper, & ginger. Stir it the chicken, coating completely- cover and refridgerate 1 hour.
PReheat your grill to high heat. Skewer the marinated chicken pieces and grilll about 5-7 minutes per side, until cooked completely through.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno and sautee a minute or two. Season the garlic and jalapeno with the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, 20-25 minutes. Add grilled chicken and simmer in sauce about 10 minutes.
Serve on a large platter, sprinkle with cilantro- for picnic mode, let cool then transfer to a tuperware and transport to picnic with the cilantro in a little ziplock bag.

Our picnic was a 7 mile bike ride away and it was a cool evening picnic- I'm not so much suggesting this as a take on a giant long like to an all-day-in-the-sun picnic.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Pasta with Artichokes, Broccli and Cream Sauce

This was an accidental recipe, you know; when you use whatchoo got, throw it together and bada-bing, there's dinner!
Actually, I set out with a goal of making some homemade pasta (we pretty much always have flour & egg so pasta is an easy use-whatchoo-got recipe around here with the KitchenAid mixer pasta attachment!). Then, I rounded up what ever veggies we had and figured I'd make a prima verde, and have a glorious healthy dinner. Then... at some point, not sure when....I busted out the heavy whipping cream and thick curls of parmesan cheese and started saucing it up before I realized I'd cream-sauced our healthy dinner.
Oh well, sometimes you need to just worry about yumminess and be over everything else, and use-whatchoo-got and I had heavy whipping cream that would only be useful for a few more days!

This made enough for Sunday and Monday night;
We had the pasta with just the veggies and sauce Sunday...and on Monday I grilled a chicken breast chopped it up and tossed the pasta in the skillet with the cooked, chopped chicken and tossed/sauteed together until heated through (about 7 minutes) with a little bit of olive oil and a bit more chopped garlic.

2 c flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 T water

1 15oz can of artichoke hearts
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups broccoli (we had baby broccoli)
1-2 cups grated aged Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

On a clean works surface, make a little mountain with the flour and then press in the top with the back of a 1/4 cup measuring cup, to make a volcano- pour the egg into the volcano and gently toss together with fingers to incorporate. Either continue kneading by hand for 10 minutes or transfer incorporated ingredients into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the dough attachment and mix on medium for10 minutes, adding the water at about 7 minutes...turn it out onto the work surface and knead into a ball. Divide into 1/4ths and let rest for 15 minutes before rolling out.
Using stand mixer with pasta roller attachments, or manual pasta roller- set to thickest setting, 1, and roll through 1 x. fold in half, roll through again, then move the thickness to 2, roll through once, fold in half, roll again, and move to 3, repeat the same as with 2, moving the thickness to 4 then to 5. Lay sheets on wax paper lightly dusted with flour until all are rolled out.
Then place the spaghetti attachment and run each sheet through cutting the noodles.
Lay the noodles out to dry, or hang them on pasta drying rack.

Drain a can of artichoke hearts and cut them into 1/4ths. Chop up about 2 cups baby broccoli. Heat water in a 2 quart sauce pot and blanch the broccoli, cook it for about 5 minutes tops- drain & set aside
In another sauce pot combine 3 tablespoons butter, 5-6 cloves chopped garlic, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 T olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper, add a big handful of freshly grated, aged, Parmesan cheese- heat on medium until it comes to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it thickens. Bring 5-6 cups of water to a boil in a large sauce pot and boil the spaghetti for about 6 minutes or until tender.
In a large bowl combine drained pasta, artichoke hearts, broccoli, 3 cloves chopped garlic, a pinch of sea salt, cracked pepper and toss with the sauce...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pillsbury Webconference with Sandra Lee

On an early Tuesday morning recently- I had my first web-conference, ohhh modern technology!
This is a pretty cool way to share info and have discussions with people all over the world. I was contacted by my friends at Pillsbury and asked to be part of this conference, hosted by the Food Network's Sandra Lee, all about Sunday morning and Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls.
Sandra shared step-by-step instructions on several yummy cinnamon roll makeovers.

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Taste-of-the-Islands Breakfast Roll

Upside Down Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

And also cinnamon roll French Toast

It was super techy and really fun to participate it!!

Pilsburry sent me some gift certificates for FREE CINNAMON ROLLS!!!

That's not all, they sent me gift certificates for YOU too!!! I have 8 certificates for ONE FREE CAN of any 8count Pillsbury Sweet Rolls to give away so stay tuned, GIVEAWAY post comin' soon!! Stay tuned for the  info on how to win comin later this week!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Angel Food Cake ala Bon Appetit

I think I've mentioned one or one hundred times how much I love food-related magazines, or magazines in general for that matter, it's a great way to find new ideas, info and inspiration! Of course the internet is a never-ending bounty of gloriousness, but there is something fabulous about turning pages and getting lost in print.

The April Issue of Bon Appetit had a spread titled The Great American Cake, a "luscious look at six old-fashioned favorites"
Cake #1 is a Lime Angel Food Cake with Lime Glaze and Pistachios, and the photo is lickably delicious.
I wanted to make it, but alas, no angel food cake pan here!
Fortunately, my day job (the Clark Kent-esque 9-5 hours of this baker's life story) does lend to some pretty sweet culinary exploits from time to time, and as luck would have it the boss-lady saw this cake too, and invited me over to help whip it up!

I grated lime zest and read through the steps and she gave me some great tips that were NOT in the magazine, that I will happily now share with you;
#1 when separating the eggs and egg whites you can NOT get even one TEENY TINY bit of yolk in the whites, if it happens, even a bitsy-bit- you gotta scrap that batch o whites and start over, even one little drop of yolk and your cake it gonna be flat'ski
#2 The man must be CLEAN and free of any grease, resist the urge!! Do not grease the pan- just buy a proper Angel Food Cake pan and know it will turn out ok, any grease and your cake is gonna be FLAT-O-RAMA.
The work day was calling, so E.C. and I had to invert the lime angel food cake to cool and head back to the office to deal with the billion dollar business of bling, because that pays the bills more effectively than our baking projects at the moment.
She made the glaze and pistachio crust later and brought it by for us to taste.
The pistachio crust and texture of the cake was really good, but the lime element (to me), was not so much...I think I like my angel food cake super sweet- so the tart aspect threw me for a loop.

THEN- STOP THE PRESSES- I got an angel food cake pan, because about at week later- there it was, at Target and on SALE! WOOHOO!!!
So of course I wanted to try this recipe on my own ASAP. I decided to go sans-lime and sans- crust and just make a plain and simple angel food cake.
For the orignal recipe see page 107 of the April 2010 Bon Appetit Magazine!

1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups SUPER FINE (bakers) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
10 large egg whites- room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cream of tartar

As noted above you WILL NEED a 10-inch angel food cake pan with 4-inch high sides and a removable bottom.
Center a rack in the oven and pre heat it to 350.
Sift the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar , and salt into a medium bowl- repeat sifting 3 times.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or electric hand mixer) beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase speed to high- beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Use a large spatula and gently sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mix over the whites and fold in. Fold the remaining flour mix in 2 more additions until just incorporated. Transfer to the angel food cake pan & smooth the top.
Bake cake until top is a pale golden color, and tester near center comes out clean- about 38 minutes.
Immediately invert the cake onto work surface if the pan has feet- or onto neck of a bottle (see photo) and let cake cool COMPLETELY.

Using a long thin knife, cut around the cake sides and center tube to loosen. Lift out center tube with cake still attached, run knife between cake and bottom of pan to loosen. Place on cake plate and serve with fruit! YUM!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Drink.Eat.Play. Words to live by...& the L.A. Beer Fest 2010

Last year we heard there was going to be a L.A. Beer Fest, less than 3 blocks from our apartment, on the Sony Pictures lot, on Nate's birthday weekend- GET OUT!! It was incredible- so well organized, loads of yummy beers we'd never had, great day outside drinkin'.
So when we found out that Drink. Eat. Play.,the organizers of this fabulous event, were planning to do it all again on April 10, 2010, Nate's ACTUAL birthday- we started rallying the troops and planning Beer Fest part deaux.
I have to say we've been to several D.E.P events and they've got a knack for organizing things really well and somehow wrangling mellow, fun, non-hostile crowds to their functions.
Sake fest last year was a great time, awesome learning experience and some pretty sweet karaoke.
So we were looking forward to doing Beer Fest again.

This time they opened up the front area, allowing for EVEN MORE tents and an extra food area where they lined up some of L.A.'s yummy taco truck food fun. This was a stellar improvement over the first year. At the 2009 Beer Fest, I don't think anyone had any idea how snacky people would get in a 3-hour drink all you can festival of pure indulgence, but for 2010 they had it hooked up!

So what were the FAVORITES? Last year it was the Seadog Blueberry Ale that Val and I adored, so we hit that up again right away.
This year there was a beer from Tibet called Lhasa that was awesome- perfect for summer bbq's or to pair with spicy food.
In the dark and gorgeous department, we loved the Maui Brewing Co's Coconut Porter, which is carried at WholeFoods, so we'll definitely be picking some up soon.
Another fun find was Primo- this is beer was originally brewed in Hawaii in 1898 by the Honolulu Brewing & Malting Co, today it's a part of the Pabst brew co. family. In my personal opinion, Primo is the crown jewel of Pabst for sheezie- it's an excellent beer that I was glad to try for the first time at last year's fest and enjoy again this year!!

If you are in or around the Los Angeles area, I highly reccomend checking out their website, click here--> DRINK.EAT.PLAY.
and hop on their email list so you are in the know on their upcoming events!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Share Our Strength National Food Bloggers Bakesale

As a fabulous fund raiser for Share Our Strength, food bloggers all over the nation got together on one day, April 17th 2010, and baked for the cause!
You can read all about the event on Gaby's blog- here at WHAT'S GABY COOKING, she was the fearless leader of this awesome event. I really look forward to the NEXT bakesale and sure hope to have some delicious treats to help fundraise for Share Our Strength!!

I could only pop in for a moment, I had brioche dough coming to room temp on my kitchen counter, but was able to meet Esi of Dishing Up Delights and had the pleasure of seeing Sherry Yard (eeep!) and Jeni, who has one of my favorite blogs, Picky Palate! Her peanut butter chocolate cookies were DEEEEEELICIOUS!

I missed out on hearing about this early enough to participate this year, but I for sure was not going to miss the deliciousness!

If you didn't know about this spectacular Saturday in time, or if there was not a bake sale close to you click here to support Share Our Strength with a donation today!