I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again. I decided to start Holiday gift shopping as soon as possible this year and spent the weekend finding fabulous and affordable gifts that I’m going to get my friends this season. I’ve gathered all my ideas and put together a list of my favorite Holiday Gift Ideas 2016.
If you’ve never heard of Bombas, take note. Bombas is all about comfortable socks and paying it forward. For every pair of socks purchased, a pair is donated. Cool, right? They also have an awesome ‘happiness guaranteed’ return policy. I’m in love with these ski and snowboard socks designed by Olympic Gold Medal snowboarder Hannah Teter. They are midweight performance socks made with high-grade merino wool. Buy a pair for your best girlfriend and while you’re at it, pick up one for yourself.
This lightweight fashionable scarf comes in 3 colors to choose from and is sold online at J.Jill. With chunky stitching and an oh so soft texture this scarf will keep you cozy through the winter months.
Save some paper cups this season and buy your friends this gold stripe thermal mug from Kate Spade. Made with BPA-, phthalate-, and lead-free construction, this beautiful mug allows you to sip and savor safely. I love that the lid has an open/close feature!
I think these scales are the most reliable, economical kitchen scales around. I use them at my bakery as well as at the beach loft. They come in a variety of colors and are readily available on amazon.com.
This is one of my favorite candles to burn over the Holidays. I love the Spruce Cuttings scent and the two wicks. Not only is it pleasant, but it really permeates nicely throughout my loft.
Well of course I had to recommend my cookbook Beach House Brunch! It’s perfect for anytime of the year – whether you’re dreaming of warmer weather or wanting to bake up brunch favorites like Italian Sausage Casserole, Blueberry Pancakes, Omelets, and Cranbery Walnut French Toast. Purchase my book on Amazon.
Oh and while you’re on Amazon, pre-order my third cookbook Farm to Table Desserts!
I recently came across this fantastic bakeshop mystery series by author Ellie Alexander. Ellie currently has four titles out, Meet Your Baker, A Batter of Life and Death, On Thin Icing, Caught Bread Handed, and soon to be a fifth with Fudge and Jury (January 3, 2017). The story’s protagonist is Baker Jules Capshaw. Looking for some reprieve from a busy career as a cruise ship pastry chef, Jules retreats to her hometown of Ashland, Oregon to help out at her mother’s bakery Torte. But her dream of peace and quiet quickly dissipates into a cloud of murder, mystery, drama and love.
Okay, okay, I know this one’s a bit silly but gosh it’s fun. These Chewbacca slippers emit two different Wookiee roars when you walk. Stay warm and entertain your friends and family at the same time! These are available on thinkgeek.com.
These personalized charm bracelets make such a nice gift because of their distinctive quality. Offered by Alex and Ani, they are available in gold or silver finishes. The charms are stamped with script lettering giving the bracelet an elegant, timeless look.
One of my favorite online clothing shops is ModCloth. I’m a big fan of all their clothes, but especially their leggings. These Holiday leggings have super cute gingerbread printed on them making them perfect Christmas morning attire. Your friends will love them!
Hi Everyone! I want to introduce you to Doug, ‘The Kitchen Professor’, who writes a wonderful blog of the same name. He is an expert on antique cast iron cooking among other things related to food, recipes and the kitchen! I’m thrilled to have him as a guest blogger this month. He has decided to share with all of you his fast homemade vegetable stock. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!
I am always out of vegetable stock when I need it. After you read this post, you will be liberated from store bought stock. The great thing about making vegetable stock is that it is so quick and simple to do. However, if you’re anything like me, when you hear “vegetable stock” you picture a can or even a little bullion cube.
Here are the ingredients for a basic stock:
If you are watching your salt intake, then you can skip the salt altogether.
One great kitchen hack for vegetable broth is to save your vegetable cuttings through a week or two. Put them in a zip top freezer bag (a 1 quart size is perfect) each day, squeeze most of the air out, and toss it in the freezer. When you have a full quart or so, you can make your broth.
Here are some other veggies that go well in a stock:
Making homemade vegetable stock is easy. You’ll never find yourself panicked when you realize that you’re out of vegetable stock.
A couple other advantages are:
If you have any tips for making stock or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments.
Doug isn’t really a professor at all, but he geeks out in the kitchen. He can barely follow a recipe and uses them as guidelines. Doug blogs about knives and keeping them sharp to cutting boards to cooking in antique cast iron. Check out more at The Kitchen Professor!
Happy Summer everyone! Last week was the much anticipated Beach House Baking release party held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. After a month full of emails, phone calls and taste testing, the Beach House Baking Release Party went off without a hitch.
I’m thrilled to share with all of you some memorable shots from the party. And if you haven’t checked out my book yet, Beach House Baking is now available for purchase on Amazon here. It’s full of great summer and beach-inspired recipes for everyone!
First up – dessert! I baked up a variety of sweets from my book and created a beachy dessert table for guests to pick and choose from. The recipes I made from my book included: PCH (pina colada highway) cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes, Blueberry Lavender Pie, Tsunamis and Coco Hut Macaroons.
The reception was held at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern in the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where I was the former pastry chef. Below are just some of the delicious canapés they served: avocado spheres filled with Dungeness crab, fried chicken bites, crispy kale chips, kobe beef sliders.
I was thrilled to have some very special guest bloggers and editors on hand. Anita Lau of Mad Hungry Woman, Valerie Mitchell of Mama Likes to Cook, Shelby Barone of OC Mom’s Blog, Caryn Bailey of Rockin Mama, Angela Saldana of Momfluential, Priscilla Mayfield of Orange Coast Magazine and Cathy Thomas of OC Register/ Cathy Thomas Cooks.
Guests spent the evening perusing through my new book in between sips of champagne and my Berry Sangria.
Lots of friends came out to partake in the celebration, too!
All in all, it was a hugely successful event that was enjoyed by everyone!
It was 6pm Sunday night when the fried chicken craving hit hard. But it was a little too late to drive to Chateau Marmont in Hollywood for their amazing fried chicken Sunday dinner (sad face). So I jumped online and started doing some research with the hopes of finding an alluring Orange County restaurant serving up this classic Southern dish.
It didn’t take too long before I stumbled upon Memphis Café in Costa Mesa in north Orange County. I made my reservation, jumped in the beach mobile and headed north.
About 30 minutes later, we landed in Memphis. I would’ve gone right past it had I not been carefully following the Maps app. The restaurant is in a discreet, non-distinct building and I began questioning whether I had made the right decision for dinner.
We decided to sit in the backyard patio to enjoy the beautiful cool evening weather. I felt like we were in Memphis sitting in someone’s backyard – plastic chairs and all. Yeah, it was pretty cool. (sidenote: those empty tables were packed when we arrived).
We were stoked to learn that Happy Hour was still going on when we arrived so we immediately ordered their $5 margaritas to start the evening off right.
After ordering, we were served their homemade cornbread. It was hearty, moist and flavorful. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but trust me, no butter is needed on these delicious treats. I LOVE butter so you gotta know that this cornbread must have been THAT good.
We decided to start with two items off their Happy Hour menu: fried okra and Dungeness crab cakes. The fried okra passed with flying colors. The corn meal coating was super crispy and the accompanying spicy aioli took this dish over the top. Hands down, the best fried okra I’ve had to date.
Regarding the crab cakes: a valiant effort, but if you want to get blown away, head to Wildfish in Newport Beach.
Now for the reason I came: Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The chicken was moist and the skin super crispy. It is served practically deboned which makes eating it somewhat less authentic. I wanted to get my hands greasy, folks! The collard greens had a nice vinegary tang. That huge fried round thang you see is a hush puppy. They were good although a little too large for my liking.
If you feel like you need a little more something-something to fill your tummy, order a side order of Hoppin’ John. It’s a classic Southern dish of rice and black-eyed peas with a hit of tabasco.
Must’ve been a pretty darn good meal since I ate everything on my plate.
I will be going back to Memphis Café for sure. It had a welcoming laid back atmosphere, friendly attentive service and delicious food.
Oh and in case you were wondering, we left PK on the car roof while we ate so he could watch the planes take off from John Wayne Airport.
Newsflash: I purchased my first crock pot a few weeks ago! I’ve been using it every chance I get cooking up all sorts of delicious stews, chilis, braises and soups at the beach house. My local market had a sale on pork tenderloin so I decided to pick one up and try it in my “magic” pot (this recipe is solid proof that a crock pot really is magic at its finest…and delicious)!
The pork is cooked in a mixture of balsamic, Worcestershire, garlic and cinnamon. The result is fork tender pork (yes, fork tender!) with the perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness and acidity.
The cooking liquid is so easy to prepare. Just whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl, and then pour over the meat. Don’t worry if the liquid doesn’t cover the entire meat. It will cook just fine.
I served the pork with cauliflower puree (cauliflower, half and half, grated parmesan, salt and pepper) and some broccolini sautéed with garlic and olive oil. After working a long day at the bakery, this was the perfect meal to come home to!
The other week, I offered to watch my friend’s 9-year old son for the evening so that she could have a relaxing night off from motherhood. Instead of taking him out for dinner, I decided to have a pizza night at home! And not delivery pizza (cue the DiGiorno jokes)– I decided to make pizzas at home as a fun and creative activity. Needless to say, it was a hit!
We topped our pizzas with green peppers, mozzarella and pepperoni. But what really stood out was the pizza sauce. Just thinking about it makes me drool. Yes, it was that good! So good, in fact, that I just had to share it with all of you on this blog post.
I used oregano and fresh garlic and threw in paprika at the last minute to add a delicious flavor of pepper and some mild heat. I added a generous serving of sugar, which is needed to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
This pizza sauce recipe is so simple to make, takes 2 quick minutes to whip up and yields about 2 cups of sauce.