taquiza time

TacoliciousTable_264976-652x868San Francisco’s Tacolicious has partnered with Williams-Sonoma on a line of Cali-Mex sauces and braises that make it easy to lay out a beach/backyard build-your-own taco buffet for family and friends this summer. Just ordered these. Mouth. Watering.


DSC_0013Whipped up these Easter cuties for the kids today; was declared baking genius. Cake+frosting+Peeps.

free vase with purchase

DSC_0124 DSC_0182 DSC_0181Yesterday my neighbor stopped by and bestowed upon us a pint of perfectly ripe organic strawberries from the farmers market. I quartered them into small bowls filled with whipped cream (plus some chocolate sauce drizzle for the kiddos) and the whole thing was heaven.  I use Strauss organic heavy cream – 35 percent butterfat, people – and really the flavor is amazing.  Plus, the pint-size glass bottle looks beautiful as a kitchen counter bud vase post-whip…and a lovely little thank-you when delivered to my neighbor.


rainy day veggie pot pies

IMG_3281Nothing says comfort food like savory pot pies. These individual vegetarian versions stay warm for about an hour after baking and look impressive all puffed up – always a crowd pleaser at my house.

Best Veggie Pot Pies

Makes 6 individual crocks 

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 sweet or yellow onion, diced

12 sage leaves

5 tbsp. butter

4 cups frozen mixed vegetables

4 tbsp. flour (I use gluten free, but whatever)

4 tbsp. cold water

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

salt & pepper

1 package frozen puff pastry (Dufour is delish, but the inexpensive stuff from Trader Joe’s works well too)

Thaw puff pastry (takes about 45 mins on the counter).  Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Place crocks on baking sheet/tray. Gently unfold pastry, delicately stretch with lightly floured hands so that you can cut 6 squares that will completely cover the top of each crock.  Set aside.  In a large stock pot combine sweet potato, onion, sage, and butter.  Cook on medium heat until sweet potatoes are tender.  Add frozen vegetables and cook until thawed, about a minute.  Add broth.  In a small bowl combine flour and water with a couple tablespoons of the cooking broth and add this mixture to your pot.  Simmer and stir occasionally until the broth thickens to a gravy.  Season with salt and pepper and ladle the contents of the pot into individual crocks filling each crock 3/4 full. Top each crock with a puff pastry square, taking care to pinch the pastry around the lid so it doesn’t collapse during baking.  Carefully place the tray of crocks in oven; bake for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is puffed and browned to your liking.  I like to use convection to ensure the pastries are evenly browned. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes; contents will be extremely hot and the pies will stay warm for about an hour.

world’s greatest sandwich

world'sgreatestsandwichFor lunch, from Town & Country: this sandwich “claims a good quarter of the business poolside at the Cabana Café, where one may add avocado to create one of the finest California club sandwiches ever served: three pieces of toasted white from La Brea Bakery, turkey breast from Willie Bird in Sonoma, applewood-smoked bacon from Hobbs’ Smoked Meats in the Bay Area, local Bibb lettuce and tomatoes, a slice or two of gruyère, and a light aioli for moisture, the entirety of which is cut into quarters and secured with frilled toothpicks or bamboo skewers. Enjoy with pickle, chips, fries, salad, fruit, or onion rings; Coke or iced tea; a copy of Variety; and pure California sunshine.”

green gold

avocadotheftSerious about our avocados. Photo via Panoramio.

goop’s healthy L.A. takeout

mouthwatering options from this week’s goop mag:


1. Ammo—Turkey Burger. 
Hands-down delicious, from the brioche bun to the grilled corn.

2. Café Gratitude—Kale Salad w/Kimchi.
It’s hard to go wrong at this vegan spot: The hummus is really good, too.

3. Sugarfish—Trust Me.
As its name implies, you should do exactly that (there’s also a Trust Me Lite, for those who can’t down a whole box of sashimi and rolls for lunch). Getting a table usually requires a crazy long wait, but their sushi holds up for takeout. A new location just opened on La Brea.)

4. M Café—Bi-Bim Bop with Salmon (the Grilled Tuna Burger and the M Chopped Salad are great, too).
It’s a mini-chain (a new outpost just opened in Brentwood), but everything here tastes hand-crafted.

5. Inaka—The Inaka Plate.
This perfectly composed meal is essentially macrobiotic Japanese food, and it’s insanely good—though it changes a bit from day to day (depending on what’s in season), you’ll find brown rice, sea veggies, greens, and root vegetables.

6. Mao’s Kitchen—Tofu Lettuce Cups.
It can be hard to find healthy Chinese food, but Mao’s is exactly that: When they say no MSG, they mean it.

7. Tender Greens—Chinese Chicken Salad.
This is a chain, it’s true, but that takes nothing away from this particularly good salad.

8. Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese—Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich.
Pretty much everything here is delicious, in no small part due to a genius trick: They drizzle the bread with olive oil and balsamic before they assemble the sandwich.

9. The Ivy—Grilled Fresh Vegetable Salad w/Shrimp.
At $29, this is no joke—but it’s a delicious and special treat.

love, baked

Whipping up a pudding pie and red velvets today, Valentines. xoxo!


This is the best pudding pie ever, with just a couple tweaks from the original bon appetit January 2008 recipe. Don’t bother buying fancy pre-made crème fraiîche; it’s inexpensive and easy to make your own: just combine 2 tablespoons buttermilk with 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a glass container, cover, and let sit 12-24 hours (until it thickens to the consistency of yogurt). Stir well and chill in the fridge for up to 8 days.

You’ll Need

CRUST: 1 cup organic chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package; about 23 cookies, finely ground in processor)  //  2 tablespoons sugar  //  5 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, melted  // 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped

FILLING: 1/3 cup sugar  //  1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  //  2 tablespoons cornstarch  //  1/8 teaspoon salt  //  1 3/4 cups whole organic milk, divided  //  1/4 cup organic heavy whipping cream  //  4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped  //  1 tablespoon dark rum  (you can substitute non-alcoholic rum extract flavoring if needed) //  3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

TOPPING: 1 cup chilled crème fraiîche  //  1 cup chilled organic heavy whipping cream  //  1/4 cup sugar  //  bittersweet chocolate shavings or curls


CRUST: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides (not rim) of 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Bake until crust begins to set and no longer looks moist, pressing gently with back of fork if crust puffs, about 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over bottom of crust. Let stand until chocolate softens, 1 to 2 minutes. Using small rubber spatula, gently spread chocolate over bottom and up sides of crust to cover. Chill crust until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

FILLING: Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt to combine in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually add 1/3 cup milk, whisking until smooth paste forms. Whisk in remaining milk, then 1/4 cup cream. Using wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom and sides of pan until pudding thickens and begins to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in rum and vanilla. Pour hot pudding into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.

TOPPING: Using electric mixer, beat crème fraiîche, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl just until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread topping decoratively over top of pie, swirling to create peaks. DO AHEAD Pie can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Create chocolate shavings using a shaver or grater. Sprinkle chocolate shavings decoratively atop pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

These are the best red velvet cupcakes.  An all-natural cake mix base makes this recipe easy and keeps the artificial red food coloring out of your kitchen.  Love Sof’ella mixes — an L.A. based gourmet food company that specializes in all natural sweets.  You can find their red velvet mix at Cost Plus World Market stores or here.

You’ll Need

CAKE: 1 box Sof’ella Red Velvet Cupcake and Vanilla Bean Frosting Mix  //  2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa  //  1 stick unsalted organic butter  // 2 organic free-range eggs  //  3/4 cup water

FROSTING: 1 bag of Sof’ella Vanilla Bean Frosting Mix (included alongside cake mix)  //  8oz. cold cream cheese   //  1 stick unsalted organic butter, firm but not cold  //  2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

TOPPING: 12 candied dots or hearts


CAKE: Prepare cupcake batter according to package directions, combining the unsweetened cocoa to the batter as the last step before pouring batter into cupcake molds. Bake as directed. Let cool completely before frosting.

FROSTING: In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the Vanilla Bean Frosting Mix with the confectioners sugar. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat butter, cream cheese, and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Using low speed, gradually add the frosting/sugar mix until incorporated. Do not overbeat – the frosting should be dense and creamy.

TOPPING: Place a candy dot or heart on each frosted cake.

Kumquat Cupcakes

kumquat cupcakesWhat to do with all those kumquats? From foodie blogger Eva Kosmas: Kumquat Cupcakes with Citrus Cream Cheese Icing! Recipe here.



Perfect fried avocado tacos.

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