Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shiny happy people

When I was pregnant for the first time with the Kid, I was SO good. I exercised regularly, watched what I ate, I wasn't taking any chances. Part of that was NOT eating fried foods for nine months. Jigga what. It wasn't easy, let me tell you.

So let's visit the other extreme shall we? How about a FRIED CHICKEN TASTE TEST. Yes. Foodbuzz picked my proposal for 24x24 so I went forth and laid out a giant buffet of fried chicken. Guilty pleasure? More like greazy pleasure.

Since I don't really eat fast food, finding some of these places was hard work - a lot of driving around town. But in the end we had a grand display of 8 different kinds of fried chicken!

I invited a bunch of friends - all with kids around the same age - to come and enjoy in the fun. The kids had fun and played while the parents got down to business.

The winner? A shocker. Cinderella story. Outta nowhere.

Go HERE for all the details on the Foodbuzz 24x24: Fried Chicken Face Off...

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Security: You’re choosing a sandwich over a guy. That’s less clichéd.
Liz Lemon: I can do it! I can have it all!

I am the Cupcake Fairy. When I drive around Los Angeles to deliver cupcakes and you happen to be along my route? You just may get a cupcake.

See, when I have to make 50+ baby shower, 70+ wedding, 100+ birthday cupcakes, I always make about a dozen extra. It's a lot more work but I am such a perfectionist, I just don't want a single ugly/wrong/malformed one to go out the door. So the leftovers usually make their way around the city to friends on my drop off or...

I try to think of new ways to reinvent them. That's how I decided to make an ice cream sandwich...out of a cupcake! It's great because they keep well in the freezer and really, who doesn't need a little treat for themselves in the middle of the night?

So easy to do, and maybe if you're really good - the Cupcake Fairy will leave one under your pillow. Though that's pretty disgusting, actually...what a mess.

Ice Cream Cupcake Sandwich recipe, here.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Michael:...my gift-white chocolate bark.
Stanley: Nobody likes that stuff except for you.
Michael: They wouldn't make it unless people liked it.

Told you I was on a melted chocolate kick. Apples, Legos, nothing is safe in this house.

I like to go through my pantry once in a while just to assess what can stay and what needs to go. Why I'm holding on to a pack of 'SPAM-on-the-go' I have no idea. Where am I going? Do I need Spam?

There are some things that I just don't like to let sit around, nuts, dried fruits, while they are all pretty well preserved, I still don't like to keep them around long once they are opened. Since I was on a chocolate melting extravaganza, I decided to make up some bark.

There is something so simple and organic about melting chocolate and seeing what you can do with it. I let the Kid raid the pantry and top the chocolate with whatever he wanted. He loves pepitas and eats them almost everyday, so that was a no brainer. Followed by pecans (my idea) and then some craisins.

The colors came out quite beautifully and the fun part was breaking the heck out of it, of course. The combination of nuts, fruit and salty pepitas was perfect. I wrapped some up for the kid's teachers and...um, ate the rest. Yes indeed, this stuff is so good it's best to get it out of house and give it away as soon as possible.

Chocolate Bark recipe, here.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

I don't know what some of your favorite cookbooks are, but mine are old skool church cookbooks. Wire bound, stained, you can practically taste the recipes just by turning the pages. They crack me up with their mayo overload, dependence on cream of mushroom soup, extra Crisco, it's all kind of like uncovering a lost civilization of unhealthiness.

My true love though, is old Hawaii cookbooks - they have the BEST food. One recipe you will always find is for chicken that uses Guava Jelly. True, guava jelly is intended for toast and bready things, but it can actually be used to make an amazing sauce, and this is coming from someone who does NOT like the taste of guava. I am pretty loyal to Hawaiian Sun brand anything, but Goya makes a perfectly good guava jelly too, and it probably easier to find.

While most of the recipes call for frying the chicken and then making a sauce FOR the fried chicken, that's not how I do it. Not that I don't love fried chicken - fried chicken would be my last meal if it ever came to that. No, I just don't have the time to slave over hot oil. I hate it in fact. So instead I mixed up my own sauce, marinated the chicken, and baked it. It cookss up beautifully, and stays moist with a sweet and fruity flavor.

Back to reading more old cookbooks...2 teaspoons MSG?? Sounds like a recipe for MIGRAINE PIE.

Guava Jelly Chicken recipe, here.


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Sunday, May 23, 2010

I call him Mini Me.

In my quest to take over the world through miniature-ization, I am always trying to think of what I can make smaller. No I would not like to Super-size that.

Every year I love to enter the Ice Cream Cupcakes challenge. Two things I absolutely LOVE. This year I wanted a lot of flavor in a tiny little bite sized package. No ice cream headache here.

I baked the world's tiniest lemon/orange cupcakes and then added a scoop of rainbow sherbet on top. When I say scoop, I'd say the disher was about the size of a teaspoon. It was the perfect small bite and the kids loved them.

I'm a little freaked out 'cause it looks like my ice cream maker is on the fritz. It has served me well all these years and that's probably why it's dying - I use it way too much. But with summer coming I just can't do without an ice cream maker. After all there are Watermelon Bombes to be made...

Tiny Rainbow Sherbet Lemon Cupcakes recipe, here.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't underestimate the Force.

When I first saw the Star Wars cookie cutters I screamed. I love cutesy girl things, but cutesy boy things are few and far between and actually, boy things are way awesome-r. You'd think I'd use them for cookies, but no - hold on. I'm saving that for later. I decided to use them to make the Kid's lunch.

There are two things he loves - Star Wars and cheese. Who knew the two were so compatible?

They came out pretty adorable, er, I mean badass. Yeah, that's what I mean. Very, very manly sandwiches. Who are we kidding these things are CCCUUUTTEE and the Kid loved them.

I think 100 of these Stormtroopers lined up would make a pretty awesome birthday party lunch. With my luck the kids will have moved on to something else for their birthdays (Bakugan - UGH) - but maybe for MY birthday...hm.

Star Wars cheese sandwiches recipe, here.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Give a little bit of heart and soul.
Give a little bit of love to grow.

You know you bake a lot when someone asks you to make 65+ cupcakes and you think, 'That's it?'

I do a lot of birthday cupcakes, shower cupcakes, but there is something special about wedding/reception cupcakes. There's a love in the air and you can feel it. What better way to show love then by incorporating hearts?! The request was for my 'heart cupcake' in lemon and in red velvet.

The red velvet proved to be a bit of trouble. My red velvet cupcake recipe (yes, it's a secret) has a superfine crumb and is extremely delicate, as in - don't mess with it, so it was a little hard going. But in the end it was worth it. They came out stunning.

May they have a wonderful long life together...full of cupcakes!

See how the Cut-out heart cupcakes were displayed, here.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Danger is my middle name

I spend a lot of my days downtown, I am usually on the hunt for good food and fun for the kids. On this day, I found both fairly easily.
I had been craving pupusas. I eat them regularly but when you stay up at night to watch dvr'ed 'Best Thing I Ever Ate' suddenly that stuff gets stuck in your head. While you sleep. And dream. Dreaming of pupusas...

Mary Sue Milikin (yay) said the Best Thing she ever ate was Sarita's Pupusas. She is right. They are perfectly fluffy, filled with cheese, pork, chicken, whatever your heart's desire - and griddled up to a lovely little patty of love.

The curtido - basically a spicy slaw - is AMAZING. Just what you need to compliment the warm, lovingly made pupusa. Just look at that pile of masa! And all to be washed down with a cold Horchata.

While I go here quite often, on this trip location was key. The Kid was dying to ride anything 'train'-ish, and luckily Angel's Flight is directly across the street from Grand Central Market, so off we went.

The LAST TIME I rode Angel's Flight it was a total death trap, THIS time my kids were with me so it was going to be safe, right? Er. Sure. We put in our quarters, took off without a hitch, and did not die. Any fun day out that doesn't end in death is good, right? Hm. Maybe I should find less dangerous things to do next week...

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Queen: This is a magic wishing apple.
Snow White: A wishing apple?
Queen: Yes. One bite, and all your dreams will come true.

I have a new obsession. It's with chocolate. I have about 4lbs of Belgian Callebaut chocolate and I'm not afraid to use it. It's like Augustus Gloop heaven over here, at any given time - anything can be dipped in chocolate.

Last week was the Kid's Teacher Appreciation week (the Baby's is this week, of course. Why they aren't at the same time, I don't know. To make me crazy?) and I wanted to make the teachers a nice small treat. Small being the optimal word here...

You know those candy apples that are bigger than your head? Yeah...these are the opposite of that. I found these apples at the Farmer's Market when I went with the Kid - I was drawn to them because they were impossibly tiny. 1-1/2 inches in diameter if that. I just knew I wanted to dip them in chocolate.

They came out perfectly and we wrapped them up for the teachers afternoon snack. I'm sure they wondered where I got a miniature-ization machine...

MINI Chocolate dipped apples recipe, here.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

School's out for-ever

In 1941 O.G. was going to UCLA. That same year the war started. The government took her and many others and put them in internment camps. It didn't matter that they were born in America - these people lost their homes, their businesses and their futures, and were forced to leave with only what they could carry.

Now, SEVENTY years later, UCLA is giving those interned Japanese-Americans their diplomas.
On Saturday we attended the ceremony - many of the recipients have long been deceased, and had to have other family members represent them. Well into their 80s and 90s now, many of them couldn't walk. But O.G. made it there and finally got her diploma after all these years.

It felt kind of bittersweet to me. Sort of like, 'Hey remember that time we made you live in a horse stable? Oops, my bad.' Despite the sadness and what could have been, it was a great day and the graduates seemed really excited and happy.
I made O.G. signs which the boys happily carried and waved. The double decker tour buses got an eyeful everytime they turned the corner - the kids couldn't contain themselves.
After the ceremony there was a reception...with ALL THE MOCHI YOU COULD EAT. Best. Reception. Ever. Even the traditional chi chi dango mochi was dyed UCLA colors which even this die hard Trojan found heart warming.
Later we went to Roy's downtown to celebrate - for some delicious Hawaiian fusion and amazing service. Misoyaki butterfish anyone? OH. YES. And, of course I had to bring a cake from King's Hawaiian to end the meal! (More info on the cake, here.)

O.G. was a media darling, I saw her on the news and interviewed for several papers. I don't normally post personal pictures, but this...this was a momentous occasion seventy years in the making - and frankly, I'd never seen her so happy.

Congrats O.G.! Good luck finding a job in this economy, sucka...
L.A. Times story on UCLA Japanese American honorees
L.A. Times pictures from the ceremony
Channel 2 news story
More pictures from the graduation, here.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm 6'-1", 225 of pure chocolate

Sooo....you know how we're all LEGO VIP members, right? Er. Ok, just me. ~embarrassing~

Well, I was in the store the other day and I saw this 'ice cube tray.' The first thing I thought was, "I CAN TOTALLY FILL THIS WITH CHOCOLATE." This is how my brain works. And why I shouldn't be allowed near toy stores.

So indeed, the first thing I did was melt down some heavenly Belgian Chocolate and make a little chocolate army. SO ADORABLE. I want to make hundreds. For what, I have no idea. Maybe to battle the Baby's army men, who knows.

For now, I just used them as cupcake toppers. Wow are they cute.

Chocolate Lego Men how-to, here.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dreaming of me

I get asked a lot about how I come up with ideas for recipes. My dreams mostly. I usually sketch them out in tiny little drawings. Think about it a bit. Watch Oprah. Think some more. Go eat ice cream. Think. Draw again. Then finally...bake.

Sometimes it's a day, sometimes the creative process is a month. Usually because I've forgotten what I've drawn.

This was in the back of my mind for some time - a chocolate peanut butter frosting. I had planned to make it using a lovely peanut butter + melted chocolate combo, but I happened upon a jar of this bad boy:
The aptly named Dark Chocolate Dreams. I just substituted this for the PB in my regular Peanut Butter Frosting recipe. Way easier, and when it was all said and done, DELICIOUS. You just can't beat that combination. I used it to frost a bunch of Banana Cupcakes and I think the flavors worked out perfectly.

Now back to sleeping to think up more recipes. Or at least catch up on Oprah.

Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting recipe, here.

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the TONG song

Since O.G.'s accident I've been going to her house once a week to help. I do her laundry, make her bed, but mostly - drive her around. Wherever she needs to go - to the doctor, to get her hair done, shopping - we do it ALL on that day.

It must suck to not leave the house, so I feel for her and take her to do whatever she wants to do. Last week - she needed tongs.
I assume this was because of the Rib Taste Test, but you never know with her. We stopped at a random restaurant supply store - the place was CRAZY. Floor to ceiling dishes and utensils - things I never knew existed.

The 'tongs' aisle was massive. And true to form she took FOREVER to make a decision. The mini tongs or the industrial tongs? Plastic or metal? How does EACH ONE FEEL IN MY HAND, omg kill me. As I waited for TONGS DECISION 2010, I fooled around in the aisles.

I found a giant rice paddle I mean huge, bigger than my head. Who needs that...ever? It looked like a boat paddle. I wanted to get it for the kids to use in the bathtub.

Then I found the coolest thing ever. A giant ladle. We are talking 32 ounces - aka 4 cups - in one big azz ladle. I begged her to buy it for me - she was still looking at tongs. I danced in the aisle and used it as an umbrella - she ignored me. I wore it as a hat - she kept looking at tongs.

In the end she bought 4 pairs of 59 cent tongs - for those keeping track at home that's about $2 for one hour of my life. Turns out they WERE for the Rib Taste Test:
But she still refused to get me the gigantor ladle. Sad. I've got to go back and get it. I need an umbrella.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ninja, please

Baby Ninjas like to fight with their brother in the backyard:

Baby Ninjas attack their Great Grandmothers:

Baby Ninjas dress up in button down shirts:

Baby Ninjas make ice cream:

Really, really good chocolate ice cream.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream recipe, here.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Can I get just one rib?

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know my family LOVES taste tests. In fact it's getting harder and harder to think up new things to try (please - leave me suggestions in the comments, we are gearing up for 4th of July!).

In the past we've done ketchup and mustard, hot dogs, root beer (that was the best) and last year we even taste tested Vanilla Ice Creams. So it was no surprise that my mom called up and said we were doing a 'Rib Taste Test' for Mother's Day. After all, O.G. loves BBQ ribs more than, well...everything. She'll take a rib day or night, no matter.

I just had to make cute ballots and little sticks for each rib, I mean co-ordinate, you know? Otherwise it would have been mass confusion. Trust me on this.

Everyone brought ribs from a different places around Los Angeles. In total we had NINE rib joints represented and in all honesty - it was a bit overwhelming. That's almost a full rack of ribs for each person! I just took a bite of each and made my decision. Other people ate every rib and boy did they feel it later. Oof.
O.G. insisted that I had to bring side dishes because, 'We can't just eat ribs!' She said this to me three times. Three times means do it or else. So I made Twice Baked Potatoes. Guess who didn't even eat them. That's right. She was too full from JUST EATING RIBS. Good. Lord.

All in all I'd say it was a successful taste test. The results are always surprising and you never seem to choose what you'd think. The winner? By and far in ALL categories was Britt's BBQ in El Segundo. They were absolutely AMAZING. A little spicy, saucy, meaty and oh so delicious.

Twice Baked Potatoes recipe, here.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Word to your mutha

The Baby made me a Mother's Day card:

Not all of it is true.
However I DO only weigh 7 pounds.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

They forever go together like a classic combination

I made Oreos.

Not just any Oreos. Cause that's not how I roll.

Super Happy Fun Time Kawaii Oreos to be exact...

You can't argue with me on the cuteness. Those boring old round Oreos don't stand a chance.

Hello Kitty Oreos recipe, here.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Time for lemonade and crackerjacks

Even though the kids are growing up, they still love trains. While we try to make it out to Travel Town as often as we can, it's always super crowded. But now I just found out that there is another option!

The Wilson Park trains in Torrance run the 1st Sunday and the 3rd Saturday of each month.It's free, with an optional donation, and why not donate - it's so much fun! The lines are short and move quickly, a big A+ in my book. A lot of the trains here seemed fancier, some of them had actual bucket seats.
It was a great alternative to the Griffith Park trains. A nice long route, with just enough scenery to make you feel like you are riding the rails.

But tell me, how could the ice cream man park right at the entrance?? How could he tempt me - I mean the kids - like that? Smart dude. While the kids begged for ice cream I assured them we'd get something better:

Shave Ice from Teri Hawaii! When I was a kid we'd go to the North Shore on vacation for shave ice, and while nothing compares to that, this is certainly a great stand in.

I remember coming here a lot as a kid, and I still order the same thing I did back then: A Teri BEEF Sandwich. Not the burger, oh no. The sandwich is where it's at. These are coarse cuts of thin sliced beef, lathered in a sweet Hawaiian teriyaki sauce with a crisp piece of lettuce on a soft bun. It's changed very little since I was kid, but still brings back those same memories.

With the weather heating up, we WILL be back for more shave ice, and definitely more train rides.

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