Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walk this way, talk this way, just give me a this

When I was at SDCC in July, I took a walk every the donut shop. I don't walk for exercise, yo. There has to be some payoff at the end of it all.

I love donuts, they are sweet, filling and comforting. While I don't like to drag out the big fryer at home, I do like to experiment with small baked ones. Plus it allows the kids to get involved and have some fun.Since the kids take single organic milks to school everyday, I snuck into the weekly stash and took a strawberry one. I thought it'd make a perfectly flavored strawberry donut and I was right!

They turned out super cute, and of course, super pink. LOVE IT. I love all things pink.

They were easy to make and I didn't even have to walk to get them. Walking for Donuts is the name of my new rap album, by the way.

Strawberry Milk Donuts recipe, here.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I told you that I'm crazy for these cupcakes, cousin.

Magnolia Bakery is well known on the East Coast - mostly due to a boost from Sex in the City back in the day, and of course...Lazy Sunday.

I've been to the New York stores and now L.A. finally has an outpost of this adorable bakery. Since theFoodLibrarian has never been, she was more than willing to go down and check it out.

What I like about it is that it's not JUST cupcakes - there are cakes, pastries, muffins - so many things it's overwhelming to look at. Personally I think they have the best vanilla cupcake around - but I was feeling the need to try some of the other items.

Luckily there were two of us, because bought ourselves a big ol' sampler. We got 3 cupcakes, a lemon bar, a cinnamon muffin, and a blueberry crumble.

Yes...we ate bites of it all. Remember, we're old hat at eating LOTS of pastries. The place is pastel and pretty and just, well - lovely. My gripe would be that there is no seating. I like to eat my pastries immediately, but maybe that's just me.

It's right there on Third, an easy stop if you are out for the day shopping!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

This is Spinal Tap

I collect cookbooks, but not any ol' cookbooks - they have to speak to me, inspire me. Really old dated cookbooks, kid's cookbooks, and a few category specific ones. While I rarely cook from them, I do use them to think outside the box and create my own recipes. Also I like pretty pictures.

And even though I weed them out frequently, I hate clutter and found that the books were taking over the shelf.

So I found the perfect storage for me: the Spine bookshelf. Minimal. Visual. Just perfection. I smile everytime I walk by it.

And now my cookbooks feel new, so I've been going through them again. I happened upon my autographed copy of Morimoto's New Art of Japanese Cooking. Stunning photos, his recipes seem too challenging to attempt - but if you read a bit closer, you'll see that they are actually simple recipes, with a whole lot of flavor.

I'm such a big fan of his, everything he makes is so beautiful and full of flavor. Out of the cookbook I made my super-simplified version of his Hayashi Stew. While it's a zillion degrees in L.A. right now, I anticipate the fall weather when I can eat more stews and just curl up on the couch and go through all my insanely organized cookbooks...

Morimoto's Hayashi Stew recipe, here.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bowling for Soup

When I went to Hawaii for five nights and six days of PURE EATING, I looked up reviews on the internet, talked to friends - and almost everyone said 'Go to Aiea Bowl'. Now I've been there before - years ago - but now they have a new chef, and well - let's just say this ain't average bowling alley food.

The Chef was trained at Le Cordon Bleu and Le Bernardin (Eric Ripert LOVE, anyone?) and the menu shows. There are prix fixe menus every week, delicious takes on local food - but that's not why I came. No. Way. It's the sweets. They are reknown for their desserts. The blueberry scones are so popular they are usually sold out in the morning.

Proving that point I had to go TWICE, two days in a row, just to be able to
purchase that one scone. And it was totally worth it. Soft, sweet - it almost melted in your mouth.

But the true focus, the reason for going back again and again: The Lemon Crunch Cake. In the case it looks unassuming, ok - it's a lemon cake, what of it? Well, think layers of soft lemon cake, intertwined with lemon curd, a fluffy frosting and then laden with...toffee bits? You think it wouldn't work but it is AMAZING. I couldn't stop eating it.

It made me wish I could carry the cake back home or have it shipped, but the islands are far far away. So I took the same idea and made it into a cupcake form. While I love lemon, I wanted a taste that reminded me of Hawaii so I used Lilikoi (Hawaiian Passionfruit) instead, which proved to be a perfectly tart substitute

My little homages to the perfect lemon cake are nice stand ins, but I still long for the real thing. At the...bowling alley.

Lilikoi Crunch Cupcakes recipe, here.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eddy:In Zen terms we're all molecules. There's no difference between me & the table, me & a tree, me & Madonna.
Saffy:You have a fatter bottom.

The kids are in back in school and I don't know about you buy my mornings are crazy hectic. Getting them packed up and out the door on time works my last nerve. Being on time everyday is a chore. Then, when all is said and done and they are gone, a sense of calm returns. And all I can think about is....tacos.

What is your zen? Mine has to be tacos. I think about them everyday. Is that nuts? While I spend the majority of my day looking at food, writing recipes or cooking - when it comes to what I crave? Well, it always, ALWAYS goes back to tacos.

Maybe it's ingrained in me from being born and raised in Southern California. Maybe it's the abundance of amazing taquerias and fresh tortillas that are on every street corner. Whatever it is, I cannot escape it.

To maintain my sense of calm throughout the day I start dinner at 9am. You heard me. Beef that has been stewing in a crock pot slowly all day will give you the most flavorful, tender, fall apart delicious tacos you can imagine. The crock pot is your friend. Love it. Take it out to lunch. Write it a thank you card.

By starting dinner in the morning it means I don't have to think about it at the end of the day when the kids come home and there is homework and dinner and baths and, and...I'm getting worked up. I think I need some tacos.

Stewed Beef Tacos recipe, here.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle

Check out this collection of super easy Jell-o recipes. Just...please refrigerate it. Unlike O.G. I know you have SOME self control.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm the imperial, Overweight Lover MC Heavy D.

The Farmer's Market is a weekly event for us. I go all over depending where my errands take me that day. Downtown, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, the South Bay - all are great markets with lovely seasonal produce.

Right now the weather is perfect and large green watermelons are calling my name. Granted, it's pretty much the tail end of the season right now, so picking a good one can be tricky.

My own personal way of doing this is to look for a nice even green color, a rounded shape and most importantly - weight. If it feels a little heavier than you'd expect - that's the one to choose. That is, pick it up - if you think you're going to get a hernia, you're good to go. I know it doesn't make sense but it's always worked for me.

This past week, using this method I picked the juiciest and sweetest watermelon I've had in a long time. Now that I've had my 'perfect' watermelon for the season, I feel I can move on and I'm ready for fall produce. Bring it on!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

How does your garden grow?

The Handmade LA event was a lot of fun! It was nice to see friends stop by and talk to Saturday shoppers.

I debuted a lot of new items and gave away cupcakes - but I ran into that same old problem...

just like with the Shave Ice cupcakes - no one thought these were real. What. A lot of people thought they were candles or soap because they looked 'too perfect.' sigh. They are real. They are tasty. Please...just eat them. Who knew that my crazy perfectionism would become such a problem? Next time...I'll make ugly cupcakes? I don't know.

These little heart flower cupcakes are simple to make and I did so many sketches of them that I thought I'd make them into notecards too! They are fun and colorful and a nice remembrance of summertime as we move into fall...

Heart Flower cupcakes how-to, here.
Heart Flower notecards, here.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Need to know...

Some shop info....right now buy any stationery item and get a mini pack of 'modern thank you' cards for FREE! Start your holiday shopping early! pin packs!

old skool
four 1" round pins

robot love
four 1" square pins

Tomorrow I'll be at Handmade Galleries L.A. on Ventura. There are so many cool and unique gift items there, you're sure to find something fun!

I'll be there from 11am to 2pm, with lots of new things so stop by and shop a little!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Slow, slow, quick quick slow.

I am a busy woman. I don't have time for dilly dally, yo. I'm on the move.

I have important things to do like watch 10 minutes of Hoarders, then immediately become so disgusted I have to go clean every inch of grout in my house with a toothbrush. Seriously. I am clean-obsessed, and with the amount of time I spend cleaning, it leaves time for little else.

Why not hire a cleaning service? Well, the way I look at it, I made the mess in the first place, I should be the one cleaning it up not a poor stranger who had nothing to do with it. Plus anyone else would think vacuuming the living room three times a day would be an insane request...

No, I've got no time. So I like to think ahead for dinner and start it early. Early? 9am early. My go to recipe is my easy BBQ sauce over - well, anything. In a crock pot, good to go. Now where did I put that scrubbing toothbrush...?

BBQ sauce ribs for the crock pot recipe, here.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ninja, please

Did you know Halloween is coming? Well it is, so deal with it. I'm with Cher, if I could turn back time...well, I'd hang onto summer just a bit longer. Stop pushing me into winter, retailers!

The Baby has decided unequivocally, without a doubt, that he is going to be Darth Maul for Halloween. What. Can you imagine anything scarier than a 40" Darth Maul running at you begging for candy? Yeesh. I'm trying to talk him out of it.

Lately he has been on a ninja kick, so I've been trying to convince him that's a good route. Aaand not just because it'd be way cheaper for me to put together. Ahem.

Subliminal messages is how I'm going to get this done - subliminal messages through food.

I made up some rice balls and using a cute punch that my friend brought me back from Japan - I made up a little ninja for my Little Ninja.

I don't think it's working since I just found him rummaging through the drawers looking for batteries for his lightsaber...

Salmon+Furikake rice balls recipe, here.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Top 5 Coffee Desserts in Los Angeles

Next to root beer - coffee is my number one flava flav. I love it, especially in desserts. Whenever I go out if I see coffee this or that on the menu, I must have it.

I think you know I drive all over this town, therefore I've tried A LOT of desserts. Here are my Top 5 Coffee Flavored Desserts to be found here in Los Angeles...

1. Blanco y Negro at L.A. Mill in Silverlake
Why are we starting with number one? Because it is that good. Not only is it one of the hippest little boutiques in Silver Lake - it has a fantastic menu that I love to introduce to friends. While the food is great it's the Blanco y Negro that keeps me coming back for more.

Icy, almost crispy coffee granita - the purest smoothest of coffee - coupled with a dollop of the creamiest cold vanilla ice cream. When the two are combined they give you the brown/tan Pantone color palette of your dreams. Nice and refreshing even on the coldest of days, it'll always leave you wanting more.

2. Coffee Mochi Ice Cream at Mikawaya in downtown L.A.
There's no denying my love of mochi runs deep, but right here is the perfect combination of coffee and mochi - and the perfect price point.

At just around $1 you can get the tiniest of desserts that will leave you happy and satisfied. Rich coffee ice cream surrounded by the minimalist layer of coffee mochi. There is nothing cheaper that will make your life more complete.

3. Coffee Toffee Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich at Milk on Beverly
Are you serious? All you have to say is 'macaron' and I'm in. But add the fact that it's ten times the size of a normal macaron, and then with a good 2" thick of creamy coffee ice cream studded with chunks of toffee? I'm at a loss for words.

4. Coffee Creme Brulee at 85 Degrees in Irvine
Yeah, that's half eaten. Don't judge me - sometimes there's no time for pictures just diggin' in.

When I took one bite of this, I immediately wanted to go order a second one. That's how good it was. But the line - always a 30-40 minute wait and you wonder, what the hell is wrong with these people? Who would line up that long for baked goods? IT'S WORTH IT.

The crisp sugary creme brulee topping is made that much better with the addition of a rich coffee syrup. It is the most amazing experience I've ever had, in a tiny little cup. Someone go stand in line for me while I finish this one, thanks.

5. Mocha bouchons with Coffee Ice Cream at Bouchon by Thomas Keller in Beverly Hills
I know this is a tease....but this is NOT a regular menu item, I just happened to be graced with it's presence the day I decided to dine at Bouchon. It was a special dessert of the day and let me tell you - it was spectacular.

I love Thomas Keller, I love bouchons. In fact I make his recipe from scratch quite often (bouchon recipe, here). Forget that canned crap from Williams-Sonoma, there is nothing easier and tastier than making your own from scratch.

But what he did on this occasion was add coffee to make it a MOCHA BOUCHON. And then topped those warm chocolatey corks with a cold, rich coffee ice cream . To. Die. For. If this doesn't make you bow at the alter of Thomas Keller's kitchen, nothing will.

~And there you have it. My ode to coffee, the flavor that I love. If you feel the urge for a little pick me up while driving around L.A. I'm telling you, none of these will let you down.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Infinite Sadness

Lately I have been waking up in a bad mood. Seriously cranktastic, nothing can lift my spirits.

My cure? My anti-depressant? Baking. Early morning baking is pretty therapeutic. The house is quiet, the sun hasn't even fully risen, everyone is sleeping - just enough atmosphere to gather your thoughts.

My favorite anti-depressant go-to is Buttermilk Brown Sugar muffins. I make them more often than I should say. I came up with this recipe when I was rummaging through my pantry one angry morning.

They mix together super quick. Light as air, any addition of fruit or nuts would just weigh it down. No, this is pure buttery goodness - the only thing to cure your morning sadness. But it's the smell - melty buttery brown sugar, is there a better scent in the world? I think not.

I like them piping hot, right out of the oven with a cup of tea. Before you know it, the kids wander into the kitchen wondering what's for breakfast. And since my crankiness has waned I can exclaim - muffins! Little do they know they missed my morning visit to Crank City and I just don't tell them I've already eaten two...

Buttermilk Brown Sugar muffins recipe, here.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Sire, that the young lady has disappeared, leaving behind only this glass slipper.

When I was 16 I wore Doc Martens everyday. I had a black pair and a maroon pair and I wore. them. out.

Now time has passed and it turns out two of my favorite things have merged:

Sanrio Docs.
Yes, please.

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I’m so cold, yeah I need that hot toddy

Seems like everyone's going to Hawaii lately. While I went to Oahu, my friends were on their way to Maui. Since we stay with family and mostly stay away from Waikiki - it doesn't really seem like a vacation. Air conditioning equals vacation in my book.

Visiting other islands - now that's a vacation. The only time I've been to Maui has been for golf and to see the volcano. But what I remember the most - even more than actually walking on hot flowing lava? The ice cream.

Tasaka's on Maui is famous for their 'guri guri.' Guri-guri is pidgin english for 'Goodie Goodie' and it's like a creamy yummy homemade sherbet. Everyone's recipe is basically the same. It's so easy to make at home and it's the greatest cold dessert ever since no ice cream maker is necessary!

Cold, creamy and easy to make -perfect for summer if you can't make it to Maui...

Guri Guri recipe, here.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Egg recall? JIGGA WHAT. Say it ain't so. I love eggs. I can't get enough. And you'd think that with my overly paranoid food expiration is this old I might die throw it all out all of it, beliefs - that I wouldn't go near them. But I can't help myself. I also check the stores and codes religiously.

And so while we are living on the edge I made some egg salad. I love egg salad, it reminds me of my youth. The creamy egg filling on crunchy toast just comforts me. And lately I am on a spicy kick, which is weird since I used to have such an aversion to it, but the plainest of things could do with a little kick in the butt now and then.

Perhaps it's the fact that the kids are Star Wars obsessed lately, but I felt that these little spicy egg salad sandwiches were calling out...VADER. And so it came to be - the Dark Lord loves him some egg salad. I just hope he doesn't poison me...

The Dark Side of Egg Salad

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning, I sit around
Trying to smile but the air is so heavy and dry

The last day of summer is September 21, but if you ask me - it's Labor Day. Your last chance to jam pack your three day weekend with as much activities as possible until it bursts.

There were playdates in the park, water play, pinatas and pool parties. But due to the recent near-death-drowning experience that the Baby had, where I had to jump in fully clothed and save him (Let's not relive that) his party rsvps now consist of 'OH GOD THEY HAVE A POOL, NOOOO!.' So now he mostly passes on the pools and goes for the parties. The food of course.

For me the end of summer means catching up. Lots more recipes to work on, and lots of new cupcakes - oh the cupcakes. I'm having one more event this summer this time at Handmade Galleries L.A. on Saturday September 18 from 11-2. Lots of stationery and lots of cupcakes!

And so with all this cupcake experimentation I turn to summer fruits. Nothing says summer like watermelon - not real watermelon, crazy. I don't know why I love food that looks like other food, but I took my vanilla cupcake, tinted it pink, added some mini choco chips and green frosting and there you have it. A faux mini watermelon cupcake that doesn't look like watermelon at all but hey is still super cute, am I right? Whew. Goodbye summer.

Watermelon cupcakes recipe, here.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

There's something inside my body and it's called a heart

Man, do I love hearts. In any shape in any form, I am a sucker for them. So when I saw these kakimochi in a heart shape? I nearly died of cuteness overload.

Kakimochi aka Arare aka Rice Cracker is a Japanese snack. In Hawaii they are a little bit crunchier, soaked with a lot more flava. Think of it as a teriyaki cracker. wouldn't think to put it in a cookie, right? You'll find a lot of Hawaii cookie companies make an arare cookie - it's as if the rice cracker takes the place of nuts or cereal, anything that adds a crunch.I decided to try and make up my own recipe and load it with flavor. By flavor I mean packed with chocolate, of course.

I had visions of pressing the little heart crackers into the cookies, because the adorable factor of it all was beyond me. Is it sick that I have a sketchbook for ideas like this? Probably.

So I mixed up a batch and passed them out to friends, and they all seemed to like them! What better way to show your friends love than with a cracker? I mean cookie. I mean cracker. LOVE CRACKA.

Kakimochi (arare) cookies recipe, here.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

There will be breakdowns and there will be breakdowns

(click to biggie size)
Pickle juice? I'm not making this up.

O.G. WAS sick from staying up late to watch The Great Food Truck Race, got leg cramps - she heard that drinking pickle juice cures that (yeah right) - and then promptly vomited. Okay...

And so since I am in the running for Grand-daughter of the Year (and losing) I found out where the Nom Nom truck was going to be via their twitter and hunted them down so that she could try the deliciousness that she had been watching all night on television.

I was a big fan of Nom Nom before the show and I've glad to see they are doing so well!

After a quick hunt near LAX I found that it was a food truck park. Barbie Q's was there, as was Pinkie's, (I've tried both, both are great!) a green truck and a Mediterranean truck, but to my surprise the Ludo Bites truck was also there!!

I've been DYING to try to their fried chicken - since you KNOW I love fried chicken and I love Ludo too!
The line for the fried chicken was a mere 5 min wait and really, who can pass that up.

I bought two chicken balls and ate them while waiting in the insanely long Nom Nom line. The chicken was crisp and flavorful and still really juicy inside. The perfect bite for waiting for MORE food.I finally got to the front of the Nom Nom line and ordered the Special which was one 12" banh mi, one taco and a drink. I got grilled pork and grilled pork, these were for O.G. after all, the Queen of Meat.

I chose to drink the Basil Mint Lemonade which was FANTASTIC. I am a connoisseur of all things lemon and the basil and the mint weren't too overpowering, just the perfect compliment to the lemon. Great on a nice summer day.

I got the goods and took it back home. O.G. liked the banh mi but was so so on the taco. She's doesn't like 'modern' tacos, she prefers her mexican food old skool. But the sandwich - she heartily approved.

It's a good thing I went to get the food by myself, if O.G. knew how long I stood in line she would have been ticked. Now she probably thinks it's a cinch for me to get this food-truck-food to just magically appear on her doorstep. Too bad it didn't come with a side of pickle juice...

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