Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes

Recipe Review: Light and airy Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting are the perfect treat for a special occasion. 

March seems to be the month for birthdays- including my best friend Amber's. Amber is a really amazing person and a really great friend to me, so when I volunteered to make cupcakes for her birthday party I knew that they had to be something spectacular. Since we were celebrating a birthday I thought it would only fitting to make Champagne Cupcakes. I found an amazing recipe on SprinkleBakes and was so excited to try it out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grilled Scallops & Fennel Risotto

Recipe Review- My very favorite scallop recipe that my family has been making for years, accompanied with creamy fennel risotto and a simple spinach salad

I love all foods- but if I had to pick a favorite it would be scallops. Kevin agrees with this sentiment- If there are scallops available on a menu at least one, if not both of us are sure to order them. My favorite way to make scallops is on the grill. The recipe that I use has been a favorite in my family for as long as I can remember (it was originally published in 1987). It's quick and easy to make and turns out amazingly every time. Kevin and I had both had a pretty crummy week, so I decided to make some scallops to cheer him up (I had originally intended to treat him to dinner- but he ended up helping make most of it).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Recipe Review- Basic Tomato Sauce & Meatballs over Spaghetti- Traditional Italian Comfort Food

A lot of times I do food projects on Sundays. Usually if I'm going to attempt something new or fancy I like to give myself a good amount of of time. Except this Sunday I didn't have the cooking bug. It was rainy and cold out. I was sore from a long run the day before, and totally had that curl up with a blanket with hot chocolate vibe- not my normal "I'm gonna cook! I'm so excited!" enthusiasm. I did want to cook something... just not something labor intensive. Apparently when I read the recipe for homemade tomato sauce and it included blanching, peeling, seeding and chopping 4 lbs of tomatoes, my brain didn't think that was labor intensive. Instead I had visions of sauce simming on the stove for hours, my house smelling like Italian spices food, me leisurely stirring the sauce every once in a while, sprinkling in a little extra basil here, some oregano there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Recipe Review: Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and a hidden pudding center.

It was a rainy day and since I had conquered traditional buttercream last week I decided to take on chocolate buttercream frosting. I've been doing lots of new things with cupcakes and baking from scratch, and while its been really fun and the results have been incredibly encouraging, when I make something and its not perfect, I get pouty. I also get really stressed from not knowing how a recipe will work the first time that I make it, so I decided to test this one out ahead of time. This is how I ended up baking cupcakes for no reason on a Monday (Kevin and his co-workers got to reap the benefits of this little project).

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Recipe Review- Fresh Made Guacamole- My favorite! Put it on your taco, burrito, or just gobble it up on chips

One of the best parts of living in Southern California is the overwhelming prevalence of avocados in daily life. We put avocados on our omelette's, sandwiches, sushi, I've evn had tempura fried avocados, and obviously tons of avocados go into the Guacamole we eat with the delicious Mexican food that omnipresent. Ever since I moved here I've been trying to make the perfect guacamole. It turns out different every time, but I seem to have worked out a general idea of what makes it how I like.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blackberry Cupcakes

Recipe Review: Fresh Blackberry puree paints basic vanilla cupcakes pretty purple! 

My friend Ashley's birthday was yesterday so I thought it would be a perfect time to make some cupcakes (now that I know how easy it is to make them from scratch!) and give buttercream another shot (last time it had good taste, but poor texture) I had originally wanted to make peach cupcakes but there were no ripe peaches at the store so I did a last minute switch up to blackberry. I loved how the blackberries turned the cupcakes bright purple- and they were still pretty after baking.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Muffins

Recipe Review: Yummy easy to make breakfast muffins

Simmer Sister Lauren is in California for the weekend! I was so excited that I wanted to bake something special for her. Last week I baked some breakfast buns from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and they were amazzzingg so I wanted to try something else from Magnolia.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rave Review: Florabella

Ok so this post doesn't have anything to do with food. Well I guess it sort of indirectly does. Here's the back story:  The past few posts that I've made have been about food from a brunch I hosted a week ago (Where I made some amazing Cupcakes, Quiche, and Berry Breakfast Buns). When I was getting everything ready and buying party supplies I decided that I wanted some pretty flowers to put on the table. I work as a concierge and I am always incredibly jealous of the beautiful flowers that get delivered from our preferred florist- Florabella. Seriously I've seen my fair share of flowers delivered to the hotel- and its not always pretty. Lots of times the arrangements are mediocre, tacky, or just plain blah. Not Florabella- their flowers are WOW every time. I decided to splurge and got an arrangement, and I was just so tickled pink by how beautiful they were that I wanted to share.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lemon Buttercream & Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes

I have never attempted to make cupcakes (or any cake) from scratch. Box cake has worked just fine for me in the past. This christmas I got a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer (red!) So I felt it was time to attempt some baking from scratch. I am the type of person that always over does things- this is how my brain works:
"Humm cupcakes would be a cute dessert, I could decorate them all pretty... I could try to make them from scratch that would be impressive... Lemon cupcakes sound yummy... So do vanilla... ehh vanilla is too plain... what about vanilla with strawberry raspberry filling- yea! Humm I should probably make home made buttercream too... oooo or I could buy fondant and make them look super cute and professional- ooo ooo and I could use the fondant to make tiny tiny flowers to put on the cupcakes! Yes ok that's what I'll do"
And that ladies and gentlemen is why I spent the better part of two days, baking frosting, filling and decorating cupcakes. My life was possessed with cupcakes for the entire week before. I poured over different recipes and decorating tips, and made obsessive shopping lists of ingredients and supplies that I would need. I'm pretty sure the topics of baking and cupcakes dominated most of the conversations that I had. I did all my shopping on Thursday night woke up Friday morning like a kid on Christmas- "Horay I get to bake cupcakes today!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tomato Basil Quiche

A few weeks back I was reading Tartlette- a great blog written by Helene Dujardin, a food stylist, photographer and ex French Pastry Chef. While her food always looks amazing much of it is a little advanced for me, and leans heavily toward baking. (I love baking for special occasions but I'm not going to be whipping up Galettes or Tartes unless there are other people there to eat it!) She did however have a post where she recommended a cookbook she had styled and photographed called Deliciously Organic by Carrie Vitt. I loved the fact that the book was all about using fresh, organic unprocessed food- but what really sold me was the photos of this quiche that they showed on the site. I ordered the cookbook right away and ooo'd and ahhh'd when it arrived in the mail. When I decided to host a brunch for my girlfriends I knew right away I was making this quiche for sure!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Magnolia Bakery's Cream Cheese Breakfast Buns

Recipe Review: The perfect breakfast pastry- light but rich, just sweet enough, and you can use any jam to make these your favorite flavor!

My sister made these breakfast buns for Christmas morning a few years back. They are like a cross between a muffin and a cupcake, with fruit preserves swirled on top. The recipe is from Magnolia Bakery, a New York City icon. They opened their first location in 1996, and now have four New York City locations, one in L.A. and even a Dubai location. They are always busy, and have been featured on Sex & the City, SNL and in The Devil Wears Prada. Magnolia actually lives up to the hype serving up delectable desserts, pastries, cupcakes, banana pudding, pies and more. They are open late too- between 10 and 12 (depending on the location) on most nights, its the perfect place to pick up dessert to eat on your subway ride home. (Last time I was in the city my friend Angela and I had finished our cupcakes and banana pudding before we even made it to the subway stop a few blocks away- oops!) They have put out quite a few cookbooks, and this recipe is from The Complete Magnolia Cookbook.