Beach Town Baking










Have you ever bought a bag of carrots for a pot roast stew and ended up with half a bag of unused carrots sitting in your refrigerator for days? Well, I find myself in that situation more often than naught. Woe is me as I’m left racking my brain wondering what to make with them as they slowly dry out in my vegetable drawer.  This carrot bundt cake is a PERFECT solution.

The recipe uses 3 to 4 carrots which is probably what you left in your fridge RIGHT NOW. I like to add plump raisins and walnuts to give the cake some texture. The addition of crushed pineapple keeps the cake moist for days and days.

What makes this carrot bundt cake so striking are the bright orange strips of carrot that embellish the top of the cake. In order to ensure that the gorgeous carrot design stays in tack, make sure to grease the bundt cake pan well. Also helpful, don’t flip the baked cake out of the pan until it is completely cooled.



beach town baking




  • 3 to 4 Medium carrots (peeled)
  • 1.5 cups raisins
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Large eggs (room temp)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325F. Great a 10-inch Bundt pan well. Use a peeler to cut 8 long, thin strips from one of the carrots. Line the Bundt pan with the strips and trim them if necessary. Set aside pan.
Shred 1 1/2 cups of carrots and set aside. Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside to allow the raisins to plump.
Combine the flour, walnuts, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Add the eggs, sugar and oil to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until blended. Add the pineapple, shredded carrots and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Scrape bowl. Add the dry ingredients and the drained raisins. Mix for 1 minutes on low speed. Scrape bowl.
Use a large ice cream scoop to transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before inverting onto serving platter.

Affordable Gift Ideas 2017

Hi everyone – December is already here so let’s just cut to the chase. I’ve gathered all my gift ideas and put together a list of my favorite affordable holiday gift Ideas for 2017. Enjoy!

1) Serene House Ultrasonic Cool Mist Aromatherapy Diffuser

We’re all looking for ways to relax and unwind these days. Unlike other aromatherapy diffusers out there, this one has a handy automatic shut-off timer. Purchase online at Nordstrom.


2) Lands End Natural Canvas Tote Bag

This durable tote bag can be customized to your (or your recipient’s) liking – everything from color scheme to bag capacity to handle length! Perfect for everyday errands, grocery shopping and beach trips, this tote will quickly become your go-to bag.




3) Windowbox Herb Planter

This Windowbox Herb Planter from the Tasteful Garden is a great gift for a cooking enthusiast. The planter comes with 3 herb plants of your choice(!), soil and they are perfect for indoor growing. Planter colors include taupe, brown marble, or charcoal.

4) Escali Chrome Digital Kitchen Scale

This handy scale is making its appearance again on my affordable gift ideas list. I think this scale is the most reliable, economical kitchen scale around. I use them at my bakery as well as at the beach loft. It is readily available on

5) COCO Eco-chic Candles by Stone Candles

I love the COCO line of candles by Santa Monica based Stone Candles. The COCO line is comprised of eco-chic coconut wax candles that come in a wide range of scents and start at $6,99. Handcrafted and clean burning, the Honeysuckle candle is my favorite scent so far!


6) Farm to Table Desserts Cookbook

Well of course I had to recommend my cookbook Farm to Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes from your Farmers’ Market! It’s perfect for anytime of the year as the recipes are presented by seasons. Purchase my book on Amazon.

7) Heart of Glass Choker by Frasier Sterling

Like them or not, chokers are back in style. Handmade in Los Angeles, Frasier Sterling creations are beautiful and affordable.

8) QUIP Electric Toothbrush

So this gift is probably more for family than friends 🙂 Called the “iPhone of toothbrushes”, this sleek electric toothbrush is getting rave reviews for its sleek design, portability, ease of use and performance. Starter sets begin at $25 with 3-month refills starting at $5. Check it out!

9) Alex and Ani Friend Charm Bangle

The ultimate emblem of friendship, the periwinkle, symbolizes eternity and the power of camaraderie. Enough said.

10) Textured Plaid Square Scarf by J.Jill

I love getting scarves from J. Jill. They have such a nice assortment of designs at reasonable prices. I’m loving this textured plaid scarf because it’s a classic design that’s not too showy yet still eye catching.

Happy Holidays!

beach town baking



I recently decided to try Costco’s Kirkland brand of almond butter. I was a bit hesitant at first, but after letting it sit on my counter for weeks I finally tried it. And you know what? It’s pretty darn good…and much cheaper than other almond butters out there. As is typical of most Costco products, it took me weeks to consume it all so I decided to bake up some almond butter cookies with what was left.

These almond butter cookies bake up slightly crispy on the outside yet gooey and chewy on the inside. All quite remarkable considering there’s absolutely no flour in the recipe! The cookies have a wonderful salty sweet taste and the vanilla extract and brown sugar add great flavor. The crunchy peanuts and soft chocolate chips make this cookies memorable.


Flourless Almond Butter Cookies


  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 cup almond butter (chilled or at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts (whole or pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet trays with aluminum foil and set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a Kitchen Aid bowl and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
Portion out with a 1-ounce cookie scoop onto the prepared trays. You should get 16 cookies. Press down slightly with your palm and bake for 11 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let cookies cool completely before removing from trays. Store in an airtight container.


beach town baking


$1.99 E-book SALE of Farm to Table Desserts Cookbook

I’m thrilled to announce that Amazon and Barnes and Noble are BOTH running an E-book promotion of my latest cookbook Farm to Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal Organic Recipes Made From Your Farmers’ Market.

Don’t miss out on this promotion which is running only from 11/16/17 to 11/22/17.

Click here to buy on Amazon.

Click here to buy on Barnes and Noble.

Not a fan of E-books? Click here to purchase the hard cover on Amazon.

Thanks everyone.


beach town baking


Hi Everyone –

I’m thrilled to introduce Tiana Matson, author of the delicious blog Yum of China. She has generously shared her recipe for a mouth-watering Chinese dish known as Spicy Steak Claypot. Her directions are easy to follow so don’t fret if you’ve never made Chinese dishes before. She has also taken many pictures of the cooking process to help you along the way. Note: this recipe uses a claypot and rock sugar. Both can be found online on Amazon –  Claypots Rock Sugar


beach town baking


Spicy Steak Claypot

The people of southern China are known for their love of rice dishes. They have created many different ways to serve and use rice, including the ever popular claypot dishes. The most common rice dishes are of course, plain rice and porridge. However, the variations of and the foods rice can accompany are too many to count. For example, rice can be ground into flour and made into cakes, noodles and pancakes to name a few.

In my opinion, Fujian and Guangdong in the southern region of China are the most noted for their rice dishes. Guangdong is famous for its delicious claypot dishes, and Liang for its rice porridge dishes. Fujian rice-based snacks are numerous and include well-loved items like the steamed layer cake and shrimp dishes.

Rice is a magical ingredient – plain and overlooked, but sorely missed when you go a few days without it! It’s one of my all-time favorite foods and I don’t think I could live without it. Whether it is served with braised, boiled or fried foods, I like rice any way it comes.

My spicy steak claypot is a combination of braised spicy steak and Cantonese style claypot. Stewed for a couple of hours, the braised steak is finished off in the claypot that the rice is cooked in and then served in the same dish.

Claypots are used frequently in Chinese cooking. Because claypots are able to maintain heat and reach high temperatures, the spicy flavors of the steak are released into the rice as the temperature in the claypot rises. After the steak is cooked, the vegetables are added to the claypot and topped with a delicious soy-based sauce.

With one spoonful of aromatic rice wrapped in spicy steak and drenched with a savory-sweet sauce, you’ll experience a medley of Chinese flavors. The best bite awaits you at the end. At the bottom of the claypot  will be a layer of crisp, fragrant rice which you can eat up right away or add to soup for another meal if you prefer.

So lets get on with making this awesome claypot dish. Here’s what you’ll need:


300 g beef ribs

2 slices of ginger

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon chili sauce

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

2 bay leaves

6 teaspoons light soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

8 pieces of rock sugar

500 ml water

200 ml cooking wine

1 small Chinese lettuce or cabbage

1 green onion

300 g rice

350 ml water

green onions extra for garnish



Step 1

Soak the rice in a bowl of water for 1 hour. The water should come to about 1 – 2cm above the top of the rice.

Step 2

Rinse the beef ribs and place in a bowl.

Step 3

Boil up a pot of enough water to blanch the ribs.

Step 4

Put the ribs into the boiling water for 20 seconds and fish out with a skimmer.

Step 5

Chop the ginger, peel the garlic cloves, and collect the star anise, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

Step 6

Pour a small amount of cooking oil into the pan and spread it over the entire surface with a wooden shovel.

Step 7

Sauté the ginger and garlic in the pan for a minute or so, and then add the ribs in a single layer. If you have too many ribs to cook in a single layer, do this in two batches. Too much meat in the pan at once will lower the temperature and ‘stew’ the meat.

Step 8

Stir fry the beef ribs until they brown to a nice golden color.

Step 9

Add the 100ml of the cooking wine to the pan and simmer until all the wine is evaporated and absorbed by the meat.

Step 10

Then add the other 100 ml of cooking wine. When the wine comes to the boil, add the 500 ml of water.

Step 11

Toss in the star anise, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

Step 12

Add 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of light soy sauce, and the rock sugar.

Step 13

Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to the boil. Simmer on low for 1 hour.

Step 14

Add the red pepper sauce and continue to simmer on low a further 30-40 minutes.

Step 15

After this time, the sauce will reduce to almost dry and be full of flavor. Transfer meat to a clean bowl and set aside.

Step 16

Rinse the soaked rice thoroughly, drain and tip it into the claypot.

Step 17

Add 350 ml of water to the rice with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.

Step 18

Cover and simmer until the rice is almost cooked (this when there is still a little water that remains in the rice).

Step 19

Just before the rice is completely cooked, spoon the spicy steak on top of about half the rice and continue to cook.

Step 20

Make the Sauce

Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce, and the oyster sauce together in a bowl.

Step 21

Wash the Chinese lettuce leaves and blanch them quickly in boiling water. Pop them on top of the rice next to the beef and pour the sauce over the lot.

Step 22

Throw a little chopped green onion on the beef and give it a good mix!



You can also use pork ribs or your favorite meat in this recipe.


Hearty and filling traditional claypot is the perfect comfort food for those chilly winter days. My Spicy Steak Claypot will warm you up!


Fall is here and it’s time for harvesting beets. The beet is one of my favorite vegetables because I get to eat not only its fleshy root but also its leafy greens. The root can be roasted with olive oil and served over a light salad. The greens can be sautéed with garlic to make a yummy side dish.  Nothing gets wasted, folks!

Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up a bit and make a batch of beet chips with the extra roots. Beet chips are a super healthy snack that can be enjoyed any time of the day. They are simple and quick to make, too.

To make these beet chips, you’ll need a mandolin. This ensures that each chip is of the same thickness and that each chip will bake evenly. With only three ingredients, this recipe is a breeze to make.

Want more beet recipes? Purchase my latest cookbook Farm to Table Desserts: 80 organic seasonal recipes from your local farmer’s market on Amazon and   at Anthropologie.


beach town baking



  • 1 Large beet
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut off greens with a sharp knife. Saute them later for dinner 🙂
Scrub the beet root and use a peeler to remove skin.
Using a mandolin, cut beet into thin slices and place into a large bowl. Toss them with the olive oil and salt.
Arrange slices on a foil lined tray so they do not overlap. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes. Do not overbake as chips burn easily. Let cool completely before serving.








These flourless almond butter cookies are my latest indulgence. Really, I can’t stop eating them. Let me tell you how it all began…

I recently decided to try out Costco’s Kirkland brand almond butter. I was so skeptical I let the jar sit on my counter for weeks.  To my surprise, it was pretty darn delicious. Not to mention it was way cheaper than other almond butter brands. But as with most Costco products, it was too large and I was getting tired of eating almond butter on toast so I decided to bake up some almond butter cookies with what was left.

These flourless almond butter cookies bake up slightly crispy on the outside yet gooey and super chewy on the inside. All quite remarkable since there’s no flour in this recipe. The crunchy peanuts and soft chocolate chips give these almond butter cookies great texture while the salt, brown sugar and vanilla make this cookie memorable.

When you make the cookie dough it may be a little oily from the almond butter separating. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal and your cookies will bake up just fine.


Flourless Almond Butter Cookies


  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 cup almond butter (chilled or at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts (whole or pieces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet trays with aluminum foil and set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a Kitchen Aid bowl and mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
Portion out with a 1-ounce cookie scoop onto the prepared trays. You should get 16 cookies. Press down slightly with your palm and bake for 11 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let cookies cool completely before removing from trays. Store in an airtight container.

beach town baking


Yum! Pork and Beans from Scratch!

It’s a busy summer at the Sugar Blossom so I’ve been using my crockpot a lot more than usual. By the time I get home from the bakery, I’m usually starving so it’s a thrill to open the front door and smell a warm meal that’s ready to be eaten.

In my pork and beans from scratch recipe, I use pork butt and dried black beans. This cut of pork is typically sold in 4 pound portions so I use half and then freeze the remainder for future dishes. This recipe is quick to pull together – the hardest thing is remembering to soak the dried beans overnight!

The pork and beans cook for 3 hours on high and 6 hours on low, resulting in melt in your mouth pork and creamy, soft (but not mushy!) beans. This dish is delicious on its own, but if you’re looking to supplement it with some sides, I’d recommend Parker House rolls and some sautéed haricot verts.


beach town baking




  • 1 cup black beans (dried)
  • 2 cups water (for soaking beans)
  • 1/2 Large yellow onion (small diced)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2lb pork butt (cut into small, bite-sized cubes)


Soak beans in the water overnight.
Add remaining ingredients except pork into crockpot and whisk well. Stir in the pork pieces and drained beans.
Cook on high 3 hours; then low for 6 hours.


With berries making their appearance at the markets, I thought it timely to share my recipe for Black and Blue Crostata. A crostata is a rustic free-form baked tart or pie widely seen in Italy. It may also be baked in a pie plate, which is what I chose to do with my crostata. 

A nice change from a typical pie, this sweet crostata has a wonderfully soft cookie-like crust with a preserve-like filling. My black and blue crostata is filled with a mixture of blackberries and blueberries (get it??).  The berries are first cooked with some sugar to create a tasty, ooey gooey preserve, and then added to the pastry shell and topped with a crust. Don’t be turned off by the lattice top crust – it’s surprisingly easy to create!

Recipe makes one 9-inch crostata

Black and Blue Crostata


  • 6oz unsalted butter (soft)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 16oz blueberries
  • 6oz blackberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Large egg (whisked)
  • sugar for sprinkling


Make Crust:
In a Kitchen Aid bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until dough is formed. Shape into two discs, wrap each with saran wrap and let chill in refrigerator 30 minutes.
Make Filling:
Combine the berries, sugar, flour and water in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a deep sauté pan over medium heat and add the berry mixture. Cook mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash a third of the berries with a large spoon. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes until thickened. Transfer to a shallow baking pan and let cool in refrigerator. Stir occasionally to speed up cooling.
Make Crostata:
Remove one disc of dough from refrigerator and roll out to a 10-inch round between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Remove top paper and flip dough onto 9-inch pie plate. Trim leaving a ½-inch overhang and flip inward. Press dough into the sides such that it is flush with the top of plate. Poke holes into dough with fork and place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Remove second disc from refrigerator and roll out to a 10-inch round between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Remove top paper and cut 10 (1-inch wide) strips. Slide the paper with the strips onto a sheet tray or large plate, and chill for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet onto the middle rack. Remove pie shell from refrigerator and fill with the berry mixture (lukewarm is fine). Arrange 5 strips across filling, trim ends flush with crust and press them slightly into the crust. Arrange remaining 5 strips diagonally on top of the other strips. Trims edges flush with crust and again press them slightly into the crust. Brush lattice with whisked egg and generously sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 55 minutes until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown. Let crostata cool completely before cutting.

beach town baking

Blueberry Pancakes

I woke up this morning with an impossible to ignore blueberry craving. Luckily I had some blueberries on the counter that I picked up over the weekend at the farmer’s market. I thought about making blueberry muffins, but the growls from my stomach convinced me that something more substantial was needed. Something like BLUEBERRY PANCAKES!

I loaded the pancake batter with a bowlful of macerated blueberries. I chose to make them with whole wheat flour, but all purpose would have been fine, too.  I normally like to use buttermilk in this recipe, but sadly didn’t have any. I substituted with whole milk and couldn’t tell a difference. Finally, I added a little baking powder and baking soda to make them super fluffy and light. The end result?  Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes (aka Perfection).

Want more delicious breakfast and brunch recipes?

Purchase my cookbook Beach House Brunch on Amazon here.



  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 cups whole milk or buttermilk
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat or AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • maple syrup for serving


In a small bowl, use a fork to slightly mash the blueberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, remaining sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir in the blueberries. Mix in the flour, baking powder, soda and salt until just combined. Batter will be thick.
Heat a griddle or a nonstick skillet. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter onto griddle and spread of batter. Cook for a couple minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook for another minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with maple syrup.


beach town baking


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