Thursday, April 29, 2010

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

O.G. read an article in the Times that said 'eating chocolate is linked to depression.' I say that's crap.

click to biggie size

If that's the case, then this is a depression bomb waiting to blow - a chocolate buttermilk cupcake, topped with a rich chocolate frosting, and while I'm at it, why not top that off with a mini chocolate cookie - with a hint of espresso and chocolate chips...?

Mmm, tasty, delicious depression.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes recipe, here.
mini Espresso Chip Cookies recipe, here.


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pizza the Hutt: Tell him, Vinnie.
Vinnie: Or else pizza is gonna send out for *you*!

When the Food Librarian excitedly said, "Let's take the kids to eat MOCHI PIZZA!" I was skeptical. I like mochi. I like pizza. But...

I'm not that big of a fan of weird Japanese food concoctions, but it was worth a shot. Or was it - the place was alllll the way out in San Gabriel, and lord knows I rarely go East of the 110 fwy.

The place was called Strawberry Cones - an outpost of a very popular pizza place in Japan. You could tell by the menu this was not your ordinary pizza...

Teriyaki Chicken Mochi pizza seemed doable to me, the black crusted 'Ninja Pizza' did not. But the Baby was all for eating anything that would turn him into a ninja.I have to say, the Teriyaki Chicken Mochi pizza actually worked - there was mochiko flour in the crust which was great, and pieces of soft crusty mochi on top of the pizza. Not bad. Not bad at all. The ninja pizza....I have nothing to say. So I won't say anything. Ok?

I don't know that I'd go back but I WOULD go back for the dessert place a few doors down...

It was called Pa Pa Walk (wtf with the crazy names??) and it was like Hawaiian shave ice on crack. They sold 'snowy's which was flavored ice shaved finer than regular shave ice - and you could get any topping you wanted...but the 'toppings' were hidden under the ice!

The kids thought that was hilarious. We got custard, mochi balls, red bean and almond jello. It also came with some brown sugar syrup (unnecessary) and condensed milk (soooo necessary). It was FANTASTIC.

I don't know that I'll be heading all the way out to San Gabriel again, (or eating the pizza again) but I am definitely on a shave ice kick now and ready for summer!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Utensils down, hands up!

The California Avocado Commision held a blogger event at Ciudad downtown, hosted by the Two Hot Tamales. I have been big fans of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken - way back before they were even on the food network, so I was really excited!

Not only that, my friend Darlene was going and I was all for spending the day with a good friend and some avocados. A perfect Saturday.

The chefs cooked us a 5 course meal, each dish containing avocados of course! There was a fried avocado taco, a BLaT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) salad, chilaquiles (my favorite!), a mango+avocado salad and, wait for it...and avocado milkshake.

Since it was a blogger event, people were going nuts with their cameras - taking pictures of every step. I kind of just wanted to watch them cook. Mary Sue and Susan are such great talents and so charismatic, you can see why they were the original celebrity chefs.

But that was not the best part of the day - since Susan is currently on Top Chef Masters, they had us do a little challenge as well, Top Chef style!! We had to break into pairs and make a signature guacamole AND name it - in just a few minutes. It was so much harder than I ever expected. Darlene and I pulled it off though, and even won! (for best name, shh)

Pom-acado...mole recipe, here.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bigmouth strikes again

Ever since waaayy back when I made DOMO cupcakes, I've been wanting to incorporate DOMO into food again. Yes, this is what keeps me up at night. So I sketched up some ideas and decided to run with this one...

That's right. Mini meatloaves that look like DOMO.

Don't ask me why, but I had visions of perfectly browned meatloaf with olive eyes. The fact that they had a brown sugar topping helped a lot with the color. For the mouths I used a piece of red bell pepper and yes, I hand cut all those tiny 1/8" teeth made of cheese, because I am ridiculous.

It was a perfect time to try them out since The Food Librarian was coming over for dinner and to help me with food photography cause I suck at it. Mostly I think she was just coming to play with the kids and their toys.

The meatloaves came out SO CUTE, however the one that we kept to photograph looks seriously drunk and irate. That's ok. His other DOMO friends were delicious.

mini DOMO meatloaves recipe, here.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

And my life is just an image of a rollercoaster anyway

I bake when I'm stressed. Therefore I bake every. single. day.
It says so right on my business card.

So there are days of baking. Then there are the days when you never want to get out of bed. When everything seems to go wrong - and you just wish the stress and the tears would melt away. I've had way too many of those days lately.

That's when I don't just bake...

...I create my own baking happiness. How could you think about your problems when faced with something like this?

A Whipped Cream Cupcake, topped with Brown Sugar Ice Cream and homemade Caramel Syrup.

Absolute pure, delicious, unadulterated happiness. Am I telling you to eat away your problems? No. But sometimes a little over the top sweetness can really brighten your day.

Caramel Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake recipe, here.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

This is why I'm hot, I don't gotta rap, I can sell a mill, sayin' nothin' on the track

Something about Orange County - whenever I go there everything looks the same, and when I find my destination it is always in the middle of nowhere that looks the same. Does that make sense? Of course not, that is how I feel when I am down there.

I had to be in Irvine for business and kid business - so I asked my friend Shari for some recommendations for lunch. She suggested I head to Alton Parkway where I was sure to find something.

She was right - the place was packed with amazing places to eat. There were so many options I wasn't sure where to turn. I checked on Yelp who was also right - the parking there is HORRIBLE. Lordy, it's like a planner's worst nightmare.

After a look around I decided that 85 degrees would be the restaurant for me. Why?

Need I say more? No. Really. All pastry all the time - just hand me a fork and keep it coming. So why the name 85 degrees? Because that is the optimum temp for brewing coffee. Ahhh...makes perfect sense now to name your restaurant that. (No it doesn't.)

The right side of the restaurant was set up like a typical serve-yourself asian bakery. Not too fond of those things, you know me and the hygiene. Plus it was small as heck and there was no room to enjoy looking around when you're being elbowed in the gut for some cinnamon brioche.

The left side was the coffee bar/ pastry area. Man. All I did was see the words COFFEE CREME BRULEE and I nearly fainted right there on the floor. I ordered one and it was a perfect creme brulee, but SOAKED in a lovely coffee glaze. I wanted to eat ten more.
The breads were good, no doubt, but 85 degrees is also known for there 'special' Sea Salt Coffee. Say what. It sounded...weird. I tried it and the salt wasn't bad - not too heavy, it added just the right something to the coffee.

This place was great. If it wasn't an hour + away I'd go all the time to make sure I tried everything. I'll definitely stop next time I'm behind the Orange Curtain...if I can find it again.

85 degrees celcius
2700 Alton Pkwy
Ste 123

Irvine, CA 92606

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Breakin' 2 : Electric Boogaloo

Last week was Spring Break for the Kid. Our free Sea World passes are expiring and wanting to take advantage, we headed down there - only to have the kids tell me they 'didn't want to see any animal shows.' Uh. Ok. What else is there? Well. Elmo's world. And um...stuff?

The only thing the Baby was truly interested in was getting his hands on one of those chocolate ice cream Shamu-sicles. Who am I to deny a child's dream come true? Oddly, it didn't taste at all like whale.

All in all it was an ok day but I was looking forward to dinner, because we were going out of the park, just a few miles away to meet Darlene and Paul (or as I call them PARLENE) to eat burgers. Not just any burgers - the famous Hodad's Bacon Burger.

Out of boredom I have been watching waaayyyy too much Diners, Drive Inns & Dives. It's usually at 10 at night when I should NOT be thinking about food. This one episode showed a bacon burger with rendered bacon, and not just pieces - a big ol' slab patty of it. When it arrived - it looked fantastic and tasted AMAZING. So. Good.

I'm sure Paul will never want to have children after experiencing the Baby's complete mental breakdown. The Baby was drawing a Batman when Paul drew on the same paper. Hello breakdown. Sheesh! The Baby is a true temperamental artist and does not like people touching his masterpieces...even if said masterpiece was just a placemat for his greazy burger. ~sigh~ Oh well. Sorry, Paul.

Parlene also gifted me with my favorite chips - tortilla chips and bunuelos from El Indio, a tortillera in San Diego. The bunuelos are to die for - crispy fried tortilla chips completely covered - COVERED - in cinnamon and sugar.

When I got them home it inspired me to make up some Cinnamon Sugar cupcakes. I topped them with a Mascarpone Frosting and of course...a fresh bunuelo.

To sum up, it was a pretty awesome Spring Break. Bacon. Good friends. Cupcakes. And an ice cream shaped whale. Who could ask for a better vacay.

Cinnamon Sugar Cupcakes recipe, here.

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Abe Froman? The Sausage King of Chicago?

Eaters of Los Angeles, give me your weiner.

I've been wanting to visit Wurstkuche since it opened last year, but I wanted to make sure 1. it stayed open and 2. I continued to hear good things. Not only did it stay open but I've been hearing nothing but GREAT things.

'Wurstkuche' means sausage kitchen and that's exactly what this is. With a menu of classic, gourmet and exotic sausages (rattlesnake, anyone?) you better believe I wanted to find out if this place was up to the hype.

Downtown in the historic arts district, blink and you will miss this place. It's dark, with a warehouse door, and a very small ordering area. But move to the back and during the day the sunlight pours in to a beautiful loft space with a large bar full o' beer, for all of you who love beer.

When we were there it was a blogger frenzy. Everyone and their mother had a camera out to take pictures of their meal. It was kind of...embarrassing. Thank goodness I had my kids to take pictures of - at least it looked that way. Ha! It kind of made you stop and realize there is this whole food blogging revolution going on.

But the important part - the sausages are darn near perfect. The 'bite' and the flavors were fantastic - but the Belgian fries, OH - to die for. In addition to beer there is also a selection of gourmet sodas. I don't let me kids drink soda - ever. But my mind was somewhere else and I had forgotten their drinks that I usually bring and I thought, well - I'll let them try a few sips.

It's almost like children are little aliens. Just arriving on earth - watching them experience something for the first time like drinking soda, is so interesting. The Kid, sweet tooth that he is - LOVED IT. Uh oh. He couldn't get enough. Believe me, he's never getting it again - I've got dentist bills in my future. Meanwhile, the Baby complained that the bubbles "BURN. THEY BURN!" and he focused on his sausage. As he should, because the sausages were divine.

We will be back, the Sci-Arc art store is just down the street which is a tight fit, but nice to pick up a few pens and canvases for the kids. All in all a great place for lunch and of course...your very first soda.

Wurstkuche
800 E. Third Street
Los Angeles, CA

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

He's got a watch with a minute hand, millenium hand and an eon hand

Since the Kid only eats cheese and needs more iron, I am trying to incorporate more meat into the kid's diets. I'm not really a fan of meat, but I am a fan of...pie!

I decided to make savory hand pies filled with meat. I got some of those Williams Sonoma pie molds for Christmas and I was so excited...I am here to report that they don't work for crap. So disappointing. Oh well. Back to the old fashioned way of molding things by hand.

Instead of the molds, I used a biscuit cutter and just made tiny round pies, just the right size for the kid's hands, aka small!

I made a nice pie crust and a tasty filling. The goal was to get the kids excited about something different and it worked! Kinda. The Kid went straight for all the pie crust while the Baby dug out the savory meat filling. Ha, Jack Sprat, etc - it was worth a shot. But they both agreed that they loved the meat pies since they were yummy AND 'kid sized!'

mini Meat Hand-pies recipe, here.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

When I think it would be nicer being red, or yellow or gold

There is a list on the internet of the "20 Most Inventive Cupcakes Known to Man." Guess who is number 19?!? My Coffee and Donuts Cupcakes! Very cool. Only the link is wrong so here's the actual link...
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School mornings are so hectic, I feel like there is a clock breathing down my neck every second. That's why weekend mornings are pancake mornings.

I usually make a double batch, so that I have enough to freeze and then heat up during the week. Pancake after pancake can be so boring so I like to change it up and also get the kid's input for what they'd like to eat again in the future.

This week I looked at my plain, boring batter and decided to REALLY change it up. I added some matcha green tea powder which gave the color a punch...in the face. Wow was it green. And tasty! The matcha wasn't overwhelming, like with most baked goods it added just the right amount of flavor.

Regular old syrup seemed to sad for these bright pancakes, so I took some leftover strawberries from the farmer's market and make a quick compote. I like to pair strawberries and green tea for some reason, they seem to compliment each other.

The kids loved these and got a kick out of the color.

Green Tea Pancakes recipe, here.

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We built this city

Pretend City opened up last year and I have been wanting to take the kids, but it is WAY down in Irvine, which is a long haul for me. Luckily I had some business down there, so we got to stop by.

For some reason I misread the prices and realized it was $10 a person. At the other kid play centers I've been to (at least in Los Angeles), the adults are usually FREE with a kid's admission, so I was not happy about this. But we had driven forty freakin' miles, I couldn't just say 'forget it' - luckily the kids got their money's worth.
It's an amazingly cute place, a REAL 'pretend' city. There are blocked out store fronts like set pieces that allow the kids to go from place to place. The idea is that you get a 'time card' and collect stamps at each place. Then when you've completed all the task you take the card to a very realistic working atm, and fake money spits right out! It is so cute!!

Then you take the fake money and 'use it' to buy groceries or go to a market, or even 'donate' so that they can open other facilities. It is just like a real working city. It's an amazing concept that I wish they'd expand to other cities. (read: closer to my house.)

The Baby spent a lot of his time in the 'cafe' cooking me food while I waited at the pretend counter. You can tell my kids cook with me a lot by the things he brought me to eat. The lady next to me cracked up when the Baby presented me with a plate and said, 'Here's your vegetarian plate, mommy." Too funny.

My only other complaint in addition to the price, was...other people's kids! Why are they such jerks? Why don't people look after their own children?! Ugh. If you have kids - WATCH THEM. The Kid was drawing and another child ran up and just drew on his paper. Oh. No. You. Di'int. As someone who draws and is a perfectionist, I wanted to slap that kid one - don't worry, I didn't. Then the unruly child went off to harass someone else.

Otherwise, I'd go back if it was closer to home, but I think it's definitely a great place to meet some friends for an afternoon playdate.

More pictures, here.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This charming man

The Baby is Mr. Popular lately and requests for playdates with HIM are coming fast and furious. I can barely keep up. The kid's got the charm I tell you what.

When I was a kid, we played outside everyday. Went to friends houses, out in the street, to the park. We didn't come home until the sun went down and no one knew where we were as long as we were home for dinner.

It's a whole different ballgame now. I never leave my kid's side and I don't really want to either. I can't imagine just sending the kid to someone's house for a few hours alone, not at this age. No, nowadays, unless you REALLY know the person - casual playdates always include...the parents.

Therefore you really have to be friends or become friends with these other mothers. While your kid is at their house for 2 hours you have to come up things to talk about. Making conversation with a semi-stranger can be....exhausting.



So for every playdate I always try to ease the awkwardness by bringing cupcakes. It's a conversation starter, a snack for the kids and really - how can you not make someone smile when you come in with a box of cupcakes?

And so the playdate scheduling continues. I'm not sure if they are all calling because they just want me to bring cupcakes over...nah, I'm pretty sure it's the Baby's charm.

Cranberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, here.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

About a week ago O.G. fell and hurt herself pretty bad. She swore she was fine, but when I caught of glimpse of her - and saw her WHOLE LEFT chest was badly bruised - I forced her to go to the doctor. Lo and behold...she busted her clavicle. ~gag~

Her bones must be made out of molten steel, because she said she felt no pain at all and even refused all medication. Now she's down and out for 8 weeks. That's a long azz time. They said anyone else her age wouldn't have survived. I believe that.

So I've been doing her laundry, taking her to the market, etc. My reward for all this - she gave me a ham bone. THE ham bone. And I don't even eat ham!!

So I took that ol' ham bone and souped it up, so to speak.

The lesson in all of this - if you eat nothing but ham all the time, you will live to almost 100 and have bones of steel.

Ham Bone Soup recipe, here.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

The sweetest perfection to call my own, the slightest correction couldn't finely hone

I am super particular about measurements. I like everything to look uniform and I have to measure everything. So why should it be different when it comes to...ice cream sandwiches?!

Sure you can make yourself a circular or square ice cream sandwich just by cutting it, but why not use...musubi maker?! You may think it's a one wonder in food gadgetry, but nooo...

I baked some brownies and thought it would be neat to 'press' them in the musubi maker much like a cookie press. Along with a nice thick layer of homemade ice cream - I got perfect little rectangles every time and my heart nearly exploded from the perfection of it all. Yes, I need a life.

Brownie, ice cream, brownie. If those aren't the sweetest words you've ever heard, I don't know what is.

Brownie Ice Cream Musubi recipe, here.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Whip it good

I had seen a Whipped Cream Cake before, and it intrigued me. A cake with no butter or oil? Huh. I had to try it but I didn't like the ingredients laid out in the recipes that I had found, so I made up my own.

Since O.G. LOVES plain ol' white cake, she ate it unfrosted and thought it was great until I told her there was no butter in it. She suggested I add it since EVERYTHING can benefit from butter, apparently.

For the rest of us sane people, I frosted the cupcakes with my favorite Coffee Buttercream Frosting. It was the perfect match and since the cake was so light I felt like I could eat a dozen by myself. Dangerous, dangerous stuff.

Whipped Cream Cupcakes recipe, here.

Coffee Buttercream Frosting recipe, here.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Serenity now

So I went to Japan this weekend...psst. No I didn't. Yes that is in Los Angeles, no it is not in Little Tokyo. It's in Bel Air! It's the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. Who knew this oasis was hidden in the hills.

While UCLA is a four letter word to me (heh), my mom has been wanting to go. Her furlough fridays have become little field trips about town.

It's a weird set up though, you make a reservation and pull into this non-descript driveway. There is no one there meet you, you just go and take your tour and when the hour is up, you leave. Odd. Yet peaceful.

The garden is way bigger than you'd expect, with winding terraces and pathways. No kids were allowed and O.G. did not want to come with us. I can see why since there were way too many unsteady walking areas. Plus she's "been there." Apparently she can only do things once.

Inspired by the gardens of Kyoto there is a garden house, bridges, antique stone, it's all very well planned out. It's hard to believe that this used to be a PRIVATELY owned garden. Man, it would be lovely to sit out here as your backyard, all day long.

It was incredibly breathtaking. I love going up high and looking out over the city. However, lest you forget you are in Bel Air, you just have to look to your left and see the new 50,000 sq ft mansion being built. sigh. Oh well, so much for serenity.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fly girls

I am weeding through my cookbooks. I have a ton but if they haven't been used, or aren't special (hero and hero) to me, then no - out they go.

I have a ton of those 'local' hawaiian cookbooks as well as church cookbooks. You know the ones with that same old beef tomato recipe. We get it, there's beef. There's tomato. Boring. But this one made me stop in my tracks:
I didn't even know I had this or that there even was a "Hawaiian Air Flight Attendant" offiicial cookbook! And there were pictures inside...of flight attendants! Just in case you didn't believe them.
What.

This thing is old, tattered and stained. And had some fantastically crazy recipes in there, many of which I have marked. To start tho, I wanted something simple, straight to the point and well, Hawaiian...ish. Pineapple Spareribs it is.

I changed the recipe up a bit to give it more oomph. They were REALLY good. Then I changed the recipe again and put them in the crock pot. Oh. Even better. Then...I made them again. Ok, so I may be on a quest for developing the best rib recipe ever, but these were really flavorful.

Makes me want to fly to the islands...eh, not really. Well it makes me want a bouffant hairdo and a 60's a-line dress, anyway.

Pineapple spareribs recipe, here.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Rick rolled!

This is the first Easter in years that I actually enjoyed. Perhaps because nothing was planned which made for...a better plan. It wasn't much really, but the kids had a good time.

We went to O.G.'s house where yes, there was a ham (I didn't eat it) and everyone in our family came by. There was food, and a lot of it - which always makes any holiday better.

The kids went on a wild egg hunt in the tiny 10 foot wide lawn. As they get older, they get wise to where the things are hidden, not only that, they are taller now so they can find things easier.

Since there aren't really lawns in our area we had to get creative. O.G.'s car proved to be a good hiding spot.

I dusted off and washed the hidden eggs (hello, dirt) and made some Bacon Egg Salad Sandwiches and some deviled eggs with bacon and really devlish eggs with Tapatio...YUM.

And just as I let the kids eat more candy than I have ever allowed them to have...EARTHQUAKE! Normally we aren't phased by these but this one did. not. stop. We decided we had better take cover since it was seriously rockin' and rollin' and we got under our very heavy wood table.That's O.G. taking cover. HA. The quake didn't last long but the sea-sickie feeling sure did. Despite the shake up it was a pretty good Easter, even if the Baby would have preferred his plastic eggs were filled with bacon.

Bacon Egg Salad Sandwiches recipe, here.
Really devilish eggs recipe, here.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Smell like I sound I'm lost in a crowd.

The Blessing of the Animals is a very old tradition in Los Angeles. Every year people bring their pets to get blessed by the Cardinal right before Easter. I have been wanting to take the kids, and now they are at an age where they can appreciate all the festivities and the animals.

We headed downtown to Olvera Street where it was PACKED. One way you can tell that an event is popular is by the price gouging in the parking lots. $13? Really? There was no way I was paying that, so I went two blocks up to a cheaper lot and took a shortcut through the old cathedral. I ain't no tourist, I know where I'm going!!

We were a little early so we walked up and down Olvera Street. It's changed a lot since I was a kid, but in many ways it hasn't - you can still find some of the weirdest stuff ever:There was plenty of frutas, churros and aguas frescas, which was good since the day was hotter than I had expected it to be.

The processional started at 2pm. The cow always leads off the ceremony, (the same family brings the cow that starts off the processional every year) and then the people started to line up with their pets and I don't just mean domestic pets: snakes, goats, pigs, fish, you name it.

The kids oohed and aahed at the animals and then we headed home. People tend to overlook Olvera Street as a tourist trap or an old forgotten part of town, but it's fiestas on days like these that make you appreciate the history of our city.

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