Archive | March, 2012

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

15 Mar

Made these shiny, chocolate-y, ganache-y cupcakes for my Mom and my Oscar viewing “party” recently.  She provided dinner, served by a most gracious attendant (my Dad), drinks, made by a most skilled bartender (my Dad), and I brought the chocolate.  Typical.  Thanks to Ina Garten for this one!  I think I may have over baked these puppies, so watch that timer.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • Candied violets, for decoration, optional

Line muffin pans with 12 paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat, or the cupcakes will be tough.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don’t overbake! Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly in the pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache.


Cinnamon Streusal Coffee Cake

5 Mar

Weekend mornings are my absolute favorite.  But weekend mornings plus homemade coffee cake and a piping hot cup o joe is even that much better!   Can you tell I’m having the Monday blues??

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Streusel topping
2/3 cups granulated sugar
pinch of  salt
3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (for color not for taste- you can leave it out if you want.)

3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
1 ¼ teaspoons if you use unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups milk (anything from skim to whole)
3 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or two 9″ round cake pans.
2) Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.
3) Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set it aside.
4) To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
5) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6) In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and milk till well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.
7) Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/yogurt mixture, beating gently to combine.
8) Pour/spread half the batter (about 3 cups) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you’re using two 9″ round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups batter in each pan.
9) Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.
10) Gently spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter.
11) Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
12) Bake the cake until it’s a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9″ x 13″ pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9″ round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.
13) Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve cake right from the pan.

Recipe adapted from:

Fish and “Chips”

3 Mar



Don’t get too excited, for this is not the Fish and Chips you’ll find at our favorite British watering hole.  This is far less exciting, as it is the healthier version of our beloved greasy plate of all things fried.  Joe’s go to meal is fish (go figure, he’s Icelandic) and I am still warming up to the idea.  The only fish we ate growing up was those frozen fish fingers when my mom would work Thursday nights, so I never really understood how is was prepared.  I also didn’t particularly enjoy fish sticks (if you could imagine).

Last night we decided to stay in and cook dinner together, so I swung by our beloved Whole Foods and picked up some cod and kale to make the healthy version of Fish and Chips.  I made the kale “chips” by tossing the leaves in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and baking in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  They come out super crispy and you almost forget you’re eating a dark leafy green.

After taking a sunset stroll on the beach, we opened up a bottle of Saddlerock wine (from our friends’ Chris and Cindy’s wedding venue–thanks!) whipped up our dinner and got into a highly competitive match of Scrabble.  And I smokedhim.  And I never win.  So this was a very good night.

Super Crisp Oven-Fried Fish (adapted from Cooking with the Big Dogs)
  • 4 slices white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) cod
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees C. Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (about 10 pulses). Transfer the crumbs to a baking sheet and stir in the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper, each. Spread the crumbs over the baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry (about 10-12 minutes)
  2. Remove the crumbs from the oven and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and spray a wire rack with vegetable oil spray (or if you don’t have any, simply brush the rack with oil, like I did). and place the rack over a cookie sheet
  3. Transfer the cooled crumbs into a shallow bowl and mix in the parsley and shallot. Spread 3 tablespoons of flour into another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise, paprika, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Then whisk in the remaining flour until a smooth, thick batter is formed.
  4. Pat each piece of fish completely dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Working on one fish at a time, dredge into the flour, then dip it into egg batter and finally coat it with the bread crumbs, pressing on each piece to adhere. Lay the breaded fish on the prepared wire rack.
  5. Bake the fish until the coating is golden and the fish flakes easily when gently poked with a fork, about 18-25 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on your fish if it isn’t too thick, like mine, as it will be done a lot quicker. Gently transfer the fish to individuals plates and serve with lemon wedges.Image

Look who went back for seconds….


Strong first word, Virginia….


Ghost from Blogs Past

2 Mar

At mom’s request, here’s the first post I did from my original blog.  I think she likes this first picture best 😉

When I was in the 5th grade (arguably the most awk of all the awkward years) I was gangly. Look that word up in the dictionary and this is what you’ll find: Tall, thin, and awkwardly built. So it didn’t help when one day my crush tapped me on the shoulder during Science class and said, “Psst. Your legs look like Pixy Stix. If I broke them open, sugar would come flying out.”.

Some things haven’t changed. I’m still tall, thin and awkwardly built and I keep hoping that if my legs ever did break, sugar would come flying out of them. Some things have changed: I no longer have a crush on this boy and a handful of my dearest friends still call me Pixie (spelling was changed for no apparent reason other than that when I was in high school I thought the “ie” was much cooler than the “y”?) And since middle school I have developed quite a hobby: baking/cooking/rocking out to my favorite Pandora station (JaRule) in the kitchen while baking and/or cooking.

Welcome to my adventures in a Los Angeles apartment kitchen. I enjoy cooking and baking for the wonderful people in my life and I find it’s a great way to make someone special feel appreciated. Equipped with my love for food, a passion for creation, and of course my Kitchenaid mixer, I hope you enjoy.


Tuna Melt

1 Mar

Sometimes I’d like to think that heaven is really a place called Cafe Vida.  This perfect little restaurant in my hometown has it all– excellent coffee, blueberry corn cakes, breakfast all day, happy servers, outdoor seating and a warm steak salad that will knock your socks off.  The food and the ambiance make for an incredibly wonderful dining experience and until recently you could bring a bottle of wine and enjoy it (without a corkage fee) in eco-friendly paper cups.

Cafe Vida holds a special place in my heart since it was the scene of Joe and my first date.  4 years ago, on a Monday night (May 12th, 2008 to be exact), we snagged a corner table on the patio.  Joe brought a bottle of red and we talked and laughed for hours, until the restaurant staff had to kick us out because, well, they had been closed for a while.   I remember thinking how lucky I was to be sitting at a table with this incredibly handsome,  like-minded, interested and interesting gentleman who made my heart skip.   After one night at Vida, I was sold and although I wouldn’t have admitted it then, I knew this man would be a very big part of my life.

Aside from it’s sentimental value, I love Cafe Vida for another reason, and that reason is their Tuna Melt.  Albacore, caramelized onions, avocado and cheese wrapped up in a spinach tortilla and, voila, perfection!

Cafe Vida Tuna Melt

1 brown onion

1 can tuna (prepared, with mayo)

1 tortilla wrap (Sun-Dried Tomato or Spinach)

1/2 cup Mozzarella, Jack or White American Cheese

1 ripe avocado

1. Chop onion and caramelize in a saute pan on low heat for 30 minutes, adding water if onions start to burn.

2. Place tortilla on panini grill and add prepared tuna, caramelized onions, cheese and avocado.

3. Grill for 2 minutes and enjoy!