Monthly Archives: November 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Bryan and I picked up a mini chocolate cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries. And promptly demolished it. Talk about romantic. 🙂
Hope you all had a “lovely” day!
Before…

And after…

Hitting the “Downtown Dog” Lunch Truck

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a quick lunch at a food truck. It’s cheap, it’s fast and if you’re lucky, it can be just as good as restaurant food. This time we stopped by Downtown Dog, parked right in front of Bryan’s old work at the Miracle Mile’s E! Network building.
Downtown Dog Food Truck


We were there for less than twenty minutes, grabbing a California Dog: An all-beef snap dog topped with avocado spread, arugula, tomatoes, fried onions and served with a basil aioli.

Downtown Dogs’ California Dog


It was like the hot dog version of California Pizza Kitchen, kicking up the traditional snap hot dog with great flavors and cool, crunchy textures. While the toppings were fun and interesting, at the end of the day it’s still a hot dog. Overall, we give it a B. Next time, however, we might go for the breakfast dog (all beef snap dog wrapped in applewood smoked bacon topped with a fried egg) and buffalo tots with blue cheese crumbles. Sounds like a winning combo!
Downtown Dogs’ Menu

Must-Buy: Govino Shatterproof Wine & Champagne Glasses

Photo: govino

I’ve been anxiously waiting for the right time to tell you about govino shatterproof wine glasses but there’s been one slight problem: The weather hasn’t cooperated. Talking about my favorite outdoor dining accessory during April’s torrential downpours didn’t exactly seem right. Now that the warm weather is back — hopefully to stay — let’s talk about the shatterproof, stylish, stemless wine glasses, champagne flutes and cocktail cups you must buy, like, now!

Bryan and I aren’t shy about our love of wine. We got engaged and married in Napa, wine tasted our way through Italy, and have our local wine shop on speed dial. No, really. So when we find a wine product that we absolutely love, we hang on to it. Which is exactly what happened when a friend gifted us with a 4-pack of govino’s stemless wine glasses.

We love having BBQs but don’t love schlepping our fragile wine glasses to the patio, watching them precariously tip on the edges of patio furniture or, worse yet, accidentally crash to the brick floor below. At the same time, we’d rather put our “glass” wine glasses at risk than drink out of thick, foggy plastic versions that make our good wine taste like crap. Govino solves that for us with their paper-thin, sleek polymer glass design that not only makes your wine and champagne look stunning, but actually reflects their color and aromatics just like crystal glasses do. The ergonomic thumb indentation is also a great touch and lets the glass sit comfortably yet firmly in your hand. No fragile glass crashing to the ground here!

govino’s champagne flutes
Photo: govino

Bryan and I aren’t the only one’s who appreciate govino’s design; the glasses won an International Design Excellence Award in 2010. They’re elegant, shatterproof, reusable, recyclable and truly a “go anywhere” kind of glass. And for $12.95 for a four-pack you can afford to stock up on them, which is exactly what we did. Now our outdoor patio is outfitted with a slew of unbreakable govino wine glasses and champagne flutes that are just waiting to make their appearance at summer BBQs. And this time if we lose one, it’s no sweat.

govino
– Shop online or at govino’s list of retailers
– Glasses available in wine (16 oz.), champagne (8 oz.) and cocktail (12 oz.) sizes
– All lines available in 4, 12, 36 and 72 packs

Tie-Dye Cupcakes: A Psychedelic Dessert, Indeed

Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Photo: CanYouStayForDinner

I admire my friends who’ve made the leap into parenthood for many reasons. They manage to function as (somewhat) sane adults while totally sleep-deprived, they balance work with childcare, and perhaps most importantly, they are constantly coming up with creative ideas to satiate their child’s curiosity… and sweet tooth

So when I received a note the other day from a reader whose son wants a tie-dye themed birthday party, it was the least I could do to provide some inspiration! And in this case, inspiration looks like tie-dye-swirled cupcakes. I recently made these beauties for a friend’s baby shower and they were a hit. Even better, they’re quick (and by “quick” I mean made with store-bought cake mix and frosting), fun and filled with psychedelic colors that will boggle the kids’ minds. Here’s how you make them:

Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cupcake baking pans
  • 24 cupcake liners
  • One box white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic White)
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 large canisters Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle Class Vanilla Frosting
  • 1 vial each of of red, orange, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring (available at your local baking supply store)
  • Colorful sprinkles of your choice 
Directions: Preheat your oven to 350°F for metal or glass pans, or 325°F for dark or coated pans. Divide 24 cupcake liners equally between the two cupcake pans. Set aside. Make the cupcake mix: Blend dry mix, water, oil and egg whites in large bowl at low speed until moistened (about 30 seconds). Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide cupcake batter equally between 5 small bowls. Add color: Gently dip the tip of a toothpick into the red gel food coloring and add it to one of the bowls of batter. Mix with a spoon until fully combined. If you’d like a deeper color, add a TINY bit more gel food coloring until the batter reaches your desired shade. Repeat the same instructions for the orange green, blue and purple batters.

Divide cake batter into five small bowls and get ready to add some color!

Here’s the food coloring I prefer…

Mix food coloring in each bowl of batter until you reach a desired shade

Using a teaspoon, drop a dollop of each colored batter into the cupcake liners. Continue to layer the batter on top of each other (or around the sides for an uneven “layered” look) until all five colors have been added and each cupcake liner is 2/3 full. Insert a toothpick and gently swirl the batter in a clockwise direction to add a swirled design. Bake for 21-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool. 

Dollop teaspoons of colored batter into cupcake liners
Use a toothpick to make a swirl design

Bake for 21-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

Once cupcakes are cool, top with frosting (I like to use a piping bag with a star-shaped fitted tip) and sprinkle with colorful jimmies of your choice. Serve and enjoy!

Top with frosting and colorful jimmies of your choice!

I Got My First Order!

I got my first order this week! Our great friend, Jon, is an editor for a TV show and needed some holiday goodies to give to his editing department. I’ve given many of our friends boxes of cookies, cupcakes, brownies, you name it. Jon loved some of the cookies and asked me to make gift boxes for his department, so naturally, I was really excited. I made four types of cookies, three of which I’ve already posted recipes and one new cookie, a White Chocolate Chip with crushed peppermint pieces (recipe coming soon!). Here’s what I made:

  • Kitchen Sink
  • Walnut+Sea Salt+Chocolate Chip
  • Gingerbread
  • White Chocolate Chip+Crushed Peppermint


I also made pumpkin spice muffins and got these adorable edible “Santa Claus” and “Candy Cane” decorations. I made homemade cream cheese frosting, added multi-color sugar crystals and stuck the decorations on the top.
For the boxes, I always have a stash of fold-it-yourself boxes on hand in case we have visitors that want dessert, leftovers, etc. I stacked the cookies on one side of the box and put the cupcake on a folded “bed” of holiday tissue paper so it wouldn’t tip over in transit. I got ribbon and gift tags at the 99-cent store (a completely madhouse during the holidays but worth the savings!), and even put a little “Pardon My Crumbs” sticker on the bottom left-hand side. Jon picked up the boxes tonight and was thrilled, even calling it his “fantasy holiday gift.”

It was really fun and I hope I’ll be able to do many more in the future. Hey, baby steps, right?