Monthly Archives: January 2015

Grammy’s “Album of the Year” Cocktails at LA LIVE

It’s been a hell of a week and I’m ready for a cocktail and some good music. Usually that entails my husband putting on one of his custom entertaining or Rat Pack-inspired playlists, opening a great bottle of wine, and enjoying our night. But this weekend I’m going to break away from the CabSauv and get into the Grammy groove with some specialty cocktails at downtown’s LA LIVE. The Grammy’s are one of my favorite award shows for one important reason: unlike the increasingly ridiculous and booze-fueled Golden Globes, the Grammy’s actually feature memorable performances by talented entertainers. That’s not to say watching Ricky Gervais slam Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr. isn’t memorable or entertaining, but it just makes me want to shake my head rather than my groove thang. Since I can’t go to the actual award show, I’m celebrating the Grammy’s by enjoying $10 cocktails dedicated to each of the five Album of the Year nominees (Lady Antebellum, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Eminem, Arcade Fire) at the Mixing Room and gLAnce Bar inside downtown’s JW Marriot Hotel. The cocktails are available until this Sunday, Feb. 13, and I was lucky enough to score the ingredients in each. From my first impression alone, I’d have to cast my vote for Lady Antebellum’s “Hot For You.” What can I say, I’m addicted to spice! Check them all out below and if you make it downtown, let me know which cocktail you vote for!
Head to LA LIVE this weekend for Grammy’s “Album of the Year” Cocktails

1. Lady Antebellum “Hot For You” Cocktail
Why: “Need You Now” is the title of Lady Antebellum’s second album, which explores the desperate longings that make separated lovers yearn to reconnect. Take a sip and feel the heat described in the album through this Jalapenos-spiced cocktail.

  • 2 oz Cazadores Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice Fresh Squeezed
  • 1/2 oz Agave Nectar
  • Jalapeno

2. Lady GaGa’s “Fame Monster” Cocktail
Why: The Fame Monster album is shamelessly decadent. Eleven of its thirteen songs are about money, celebrity, sex, clubbing, or a sticky combination of all four. The “Fame Monster” signature cocktail contains all the energy of the album and is mixed with a Full Throttle energy drink.

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Midori
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • Top with energy drink (Full Throttle)
  • Garnish with two slices of cucumber facing up

3. Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” Cocktail
Why: Katy Perry called the album `Teenage Dream’ because she wants to be a teenage dream in a pin-up poster. The JW Marriott created a sweet teenage dream of a drink with Amaretto and Orange Juice.

  • Fill a Pilsner glass with Ice
  • Fill halfway with Shocktop
  • 1 1/2 oz Amaretto
  • Splash of Orange Juice
  • Garnish Orange Slice

4. Eminem’s “Recovery” Cocktail
Why: To put it simply, Eminem is back. In his new album Recovery, he shows that he can still spit with the best of them, then he shows that he’s better than all of them, and he knows it. The non-alcoholic “Recovery” cocktail features a sweet and sour mixture, which feels just like his music.

Ingredients (equal parts of all):
  • Pineapple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Splash grapefruit
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Garnish with orange & cherry

5. Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” Cocktail
Why: The Suburbs album is a complete work meant to be taken in as a single, hour long journey between adolescence and adulthood. Nothing marks that transition better than champagne!

  • Mumm Champagne
  • Topped with Chambord
  • Garnish with edible orchard
  • Serve in a champagne flute

DineLA Restaurant Week Starts Today!

I’m officially excited (and hungry)! DineLA is back, taking over LA’s restaurant scene from October 2-7 and 9-14! You know the drill: Hundreds of Los Angeles’ restaurants are offering prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner, often filled with their best-selling dishes. The menus are tiered in three price levels designed to meet the budgets of every Angeleno:
  • Deluxe Dining: $16 lunch/$26 dinner
  • Premier Dining: $22 lunch/$34 dinner
  • Fine Dining: $28 lunch/$44 dinner

DineLA’s participating restaurants range from L.A.’s culinary cream of the crop – think Craft, Fig & Olive (Obama’s fave) and Scarpetta, just to name a few – to more casual offerings such as Casa Vega and Hostaria del Piccolo. There are literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from but only so many meals in a day, so make your reservations accordingly — and fast!
But wait, there’s more: A list of locally-lauded hotels have signed on to offer “Stay & DineLA” packages, where you can stay one night in a guest room and enjoy a meal at a participating dineLA restaurant. Book a reservation and a night’s stay at LA Market in the J.W. Marriott, Scarpetta in the Montage Hotel Beverly Hills, or Asia de Cuba in the Mondrian Hotel, among others. Consider it a mini stay-cation, or just a really fabulous place to crash if you have too much vino.

Need more info? Get it at

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Relishes & Chutneys

Cherry-Pear Mostarda
Photo: LA Times

Fresh or canned? When it comes to cranberry sauce, I’ve never heard of a more polarizing Thanksgiving issue. Just the mere presence of the “wrong” type of sauce can send people into a tailspin. My family has always opted for the canned stuff while Bryan’s family asks that he be in charge of making fresh cranberry sauce. I like both kinds while Bryan likes neither. Isn’t it time we stopped the madness?

From chutney to relish to mostarda, there are so many ways to dress up classic cranberry sauce and keep the peace. I’ve collected five fabulous versions — think cranberry ginger chutney and cherry-pear mostarda — from Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart and Hatfield’s restaurant in L.A. Make any one of these and the only debate at your table will be who gets the last serving.

This chutney has added piquancy from fresh ginger and a pinch of crushed red pepper, plus more versatility than the average cranberry sauce: It dazzles on turkey sandwiches and alongside roast duck.

Sweet-and-Spicy Cranberry Sauce

The pineapple may be unexpected, but it brings the cranberry, chili and cilantro flavors together and makes them shine.

Recipe (pictured above, right) adapted from Chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield, co-owners of their eponymous restaurant. Dried pears can be found in most well-stocked and gourmet markets, as well as online. Pickled mustard seeds are available at select gourmet markets and online.

Guests will bite into this unassuming cranberry sauce only to encounter a “whang!” from lime zest and cayenne pepper.

This cranberry sauce with dried Calimyrna figs has a chutney like texture. A little red wine makes the sauce rich in flavor and ruby red in color.

‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Speaks at Wilshire Ebell Nov. 15

I am so so so excited. The Barefoot Contessa HERSELF is coming to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Nov. 15. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you might as well stop reading now. But, if you do, I hope you have just as big a culinary crush on Ina Garten as I do. My love for Ina goes way back. My grandma and I used to sit and watch her cooking shows together, and one-by-one, we’d collect her cookbooks as they came out. 

Slowly but surely, recipes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and Family Style became my go-to’s for dinner parties and last-minute meals. A few years later, during a period when I was slammed at work and looking for no-fuss meals, How Easy Is That? became my recipe bible. Pappa al Pomodoro — a Tuscan bread and tomato soup — is comforting on a chilly winter night. Scallops Provençal helped me get over my fear of overcooking delicate (and expensive) scallops. And her Brownie Pudding had my chocolate-lover friends licking their plates. No joke.

All of this is why I can barely wait for an evening with Ina on Nov. 15, when Garten will chat with host Jennifer Garner about her new book, The Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. Tickets are $42 plus tax and include an autographed copy of Foolproof. Make reservations via the event sponsor, Vroman’s Bookstore, by visiting Vroman’s will call department (695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena) or calling (626) 449-5320.

Congratulations to Bakelab Holiday Cupcake Kit Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Bakelab Winter Wonderland Cupcake Decorating Kit contest! From Buckeyes to snowflake sugar cookies to shortbread to chocolate mint cookies, your list of favorite holiday treats sound amazing! It was so hard to choose but after all was said and done, I have to say congratulations to Cristina and Michelle who love their homemade pizelles and truffles filled with funfetti cake! Both treats are are so close to my heart; I’ve been eating pizelles with my family since I was a kid, and Bryan’s and my Candy Land-themed wedding cake had a custom layer of funfetti cake in it.

Thanks again to everyone who entered and keep reading for the next giveaway!
I hope you have as much fun playing with your Bakelab kit as I did!