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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Triple Berry Tart

I really love watching the Food Network, but not usually for the step by step cooking shows. I love Iron Chef, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I still get inspired for recipes by these shows sometimes, but it's rare for me to run off after watching the show and go recreate something.

A few weeks ago, I was watching Barefoot Contessa with my mother-in-law and Ina was making a dinner to send up to her friend's daughter in NYC. The dinner she made didn't sound particularly appetizing, but she made a prune tart for dinner, and it looked so easy and delicious!

I knew I had to try this one out, so a few days later, I worked at recreating my own easy and delectable tart. It turned out beautifully-I have never made a tart before, so I couldn't believe how easy it was to make something that looked so elaborate and tasted so scrumptious with just a couple ingredients.

Triple Berry Tart 
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with a mixer until crumbly. I felt like mine was too dry, but it turned out perfect, so don't stress if it seems too "crumbly."
3. Press 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2 inch springform or tart pan.  Using a measuring cup works well to press the mixture into the sides/bottom.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the berries and lightly toss until evenly dispersed. Pour the berries on top of the crust, spreading evenly across the entire surface.
5. Sprinkle to remaining crumb mixture evenly over the berries. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.

I loved how I could smell the sugars in the juice from the berries releasing as the tart cooked!

I had extra crumb mixture, so I put it in a mini loaf pan with blueberries and mangoes and that turned out delightfully as well!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Wife's Favorites: Week of 3/25

I've said multiple times on here how I rarely cook since we've been living at my in-laws, and that puts a bit of a damper on the blog content for a food blog. I've gotten by the last few months by posting the occasional recipe and reviewing the restaurants we have eaten at. I'm ready to be back in the kitchen with my industrial size KitchenAid, my spatula collection, and the opportunity to actually cook meals. I've been planning (for weeks!) things that I will make when we get back. Hopefully along with those will come some new things on the blog. I'm excited about them! Things will pick up soon, I surely hope.

We are both really ready to be back in our own space. It's been great to be here with family, and my in-laws have been incredibly hospitable, but I am most definitely glad this was only a 3 month experience. I'm mostly somewhat tired of my job too. I feel so blessed to have even been able to find a job for such a short amount of time, but I'm excited to not work with 16-year-olds anymore. My job back in Idaho requires more...thinking...if that makes sense. It's more of a challenge, and I need that to keep myself entertained.

Before we get back to Idaho, we are going to San Francisco for a few days. Our 1 year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks, so it worked out perfectly to take the long way back to Idaho and head up to Northern California for a few days to celebrate. We are staying in a really cheap motel, and have nothing planned besides that, just lists of potential things to do, and then we will see where our feet (and stomachs) take us!

My post from last week: North End Caffe-a restaurant review for a cafe in Manhatten Beach that was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I really love hole in the wall places like this.

Favorite Blog Posts from Last Week:
 The Ultimate Sourdough Recipe from Peas and Thank You
Four Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni from How Sweet It Is
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas from Eat, Live, Run
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Whole Wheat Basil Pita Toasts from Simply Scratch
Sunday Dinner(Roasted Garlic Shrimp Cocktail) from The Galley Gourmet-Nicole posts her Sunday Dinner plans and they are always exquisite and inspiring!

Things I Pinned:
Vietnamese Shaking Beef from Let's Dish
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake from Whisk Kid
Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart from The Galley Gourmet

What about you, did you find any outstanding new(to you) recipes this week?


Friday, March 23, 2012

North End Caffe-Manhatten Beach, CA

Last week, I had a day off in the middle of the week, so my mother and I went out to lunch. We went to a restaurant that she's been to before, and that I was dying to eat at!

We headed to North End Caffe for lunch, were lucky enough to get a parking spot right out side, and a table inside. We sat and pondered the menu for a while-me ogling at all of the choices!

Finally, we decided on the Pastrami Sandwich, the Tia(BBQ basted turkey, bacon, Swiss, creole mojo, pickle, onion, and tomato), and a Kahlua Pig Monte Cristo Egg Rolls to split.

While we waited for our food, I went outside to check out the view. See the green building on the left in this photo? That's North End Caffe! It's super close to the beach. 

Our food came relatively quick, and it was hard to wait a moment to snap pictures before we dug in! It all looked so tasty!

The Monte Cristo Egg Rolls-these are SO good, and I'm sure incredibly unhealthy! But delicious! 

My "Tia" sandwich, served with organic leafy greens. To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the salad, but the sandwiches were to die for!

Meri's Pastrami sandwich. Look at those delicious layers! Hers was mighty scrumptious as well.

My sandwich again. Obviously, I couldn't wait longer to take a bite ;)

If you didn't catch it from the menu's, North End Caffe was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network. I haven't actually seen that episode, but I might try to hunt it down. 

Besides having outrageously delicious food, North End Caffe had friendly staff, great location, and a fun atmosphere.  I will most definitely be making a stop back here, and hopefully before we leave!

The things to keep in mind is that this is located on a busy street with limited parking, and there is very limited seating inside, but you can order to go.

I highly suggest stopping here if you are in the Los Angeles area. North End Caffe is located 3421 Highland Avenue, Manhatten  Beach, CA 90266, and can be reached at 310-546-4782. They are open everyday from 8am to 9pm, and have different menu's for every meal. 

North End Caffe on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Wife's Favorites: Week of 3/19

It was a slow week on the blog last week. No one is to blame but me :) I ate quite a bit of delicious food last week though, my favorite  being at a cafe--I'll be posting about it later in the week. We had a ton of rain and wind over the weekend,and it was really cold. I know you care about the weather...but it was different from the usual 60degree+ weather.

My posts from this past week:
"Children Filaments," Sandwich-a knock off of Chik-fil-a. These are really good!
Best Brussel Sprouts-My favorite way to eat these little balls of joy!

Favorite blog posts from this week:
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cupcakes w/Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting from Espresso & Cream
Creamy Lime Squares from Eat, Live, Run
Homemade Cliff Bars from Cookies & Cups
Homemade Cinnamon & Honey Soy Milk from Kiran Tarun
Confetti Quinoa from Zesty Cook
Honey Oatmeal Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Peach, Goat Cheese and Sweet Balsamic Crostini from Cooking Healthy for Me

Things I Pinned:
Grilled Chicken Tzatziki from Style at Home
Tuscan Chicken Soup from Yammie's Nosh
Chocolate Frosting Shots from Chocolate Covered Katie
Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce from Sunshine & Smile
Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Parfait from Epicurean Mom


Monday, March 19, 2012

Best Brussel Sprouts

You might be thinking that "Best" and "Brussel Sprouts," should not be included in the same sentence. If you try this recipe, you will beg to differ.

When my mom served a mission for our church in Germany(she was 21), she made friends with a lady from church, and my mom and her companion were invited over to her house for dinner.  She said when she walked in, it smelled awful. The lady told them she was cooking brussel sprouts, and my mom was disgusted! She saw a giant pot of brussels steaming on the stove and was completely grossed out. The lady told her she had to try them.

After she finally agreed, the woman came back with a giant steaming bowl of brussel sprouts.

She took a bite, expecting to taste something gross, but then experienced a delightful taste.

Surprising, I know. This is how my mom got us to eat brussel sprouts when we were growing up, and my favorite way to eat them now.

Best Brussel Sprouts 

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
2 cups milk*

1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter on medium high heat.
2. Add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, constantly stirring with a whisk.
3. Stir in the salt and pepper.
4. Pour in the milk, and stir constantly until the mixture is boiling. Turn down to low heat and wait for it to thicken, stirring occasionally.
5. Pour mixture over steamed brussel sprouts.

*I've found that it is better to not use fat free milk when making these because the sauce doesn't thicken.

Now come tell me if you still think brussel sprouts are gross after trying this!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Chidren Filaments" Sandwiches

I'm sure you've all had mishaps with your cell phone at one point and sent something completely different than what you actually meant to say. This has happened to me multiple times, but this was one of my favorites:

I was trying to text my husband a few weeks ago to see if he wanted to eat at Chik-fil-a for dinner, but my phone autocorrected it to "Children Filaments." Not exactly what I was aiming for. I thought it was pretty funny though, so I still sent it, and now Chik-fil-a is referred to as "Children Filaments."

For a few weeks now, we've been talking about trying to recreate the delicious classic Chik-fil-a sandwich.
Last night was finally the night!

Chik-fil-a Knock Off Chicken Sandwich 

To start off, I made homemade hamburger buns. You can use store bought ones, but if you have the time, I HIGHLY suggest making homemade ones, as they are delightful. I used the recipe at Annie's Eats.

For the chicken:
(slightly adapted from Food Network)
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup of pickle juice(from the jar)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
oil for frying(I used corn oil, they suggest peanut oil)
1 large egg
1/2 cup nonfat milk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour(I didn't have any, so I used a little more white flour and added 1 Tbs of Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal).
1 tablespoon  malted milk powder(I also didn't have this, so i added an extra tsp of powdered sugar)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 sour pickle, sliced

1. Butterfly the chicken breasts, and then cut in half. Place in a shallow bowl, and cover with the pickle juice. Let sit for at least an hour.
2. Pour about 2 inches of oil into either a pan or a deep fryer and heat until the thermometer reaches 325 degrees F.
3. While the oil is heating, combine both flours, the milk powder, powdered sugar, baking soda, dry mustard, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika. Set aside.
4. Whisk the egg, milk, and 2 Tbs of water in a baking dish.
5. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and the remaining teaspoon of paprika.
6. First dip the chicken in the egg mixture, coating completely, then dredge in the flour mixture, then fry in the hot oil until golden brown, which is about 4-6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
7. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with extra crispy pickles and french fries on the side. This is a recipe not to be missed! Food Network is genius because this tastes like the real thing!

PS the pickles are my favorite part!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Wife's Favorites: Week of 3/12

Once upon a time, I used to post the blog posts from blogs I follow on here once a week. They started getting out of hand (see this post) because there was so many posts I liked, so I tried to scale back, but eventually just stopped doing it. I'd like to start up again though because I've found some awesome "share-worthy" posts lately!

I'll be doing it differently this time around. I'll still be including some of the posts I starred on others blogs, a recap of my posts from the week, and some "Pinterest" favorites.

My posts from the past week:
C&O Cucina-Marina Del Rey, CA-A restaurant review on a great Italian restaurant near Los Angeles!
Venice/Malibu Day Trip-A recap of our day trip to Venice/Malibu last week.
Snicker Snack Cake-An amazing guest post from Kim at Cravings of a Lunatic. I tried this out, but in cupcake form and they were really good!
Sherri is Getting New Lungs-My next door neighbor Sherri is getting a lung transplant and she needs our help!

Favorite Blog Posts from this week:
"Eloise at the Plaza," Birthday Party from Hostess with the Mostess
Madeline Themed Birthday Party from Hostess with the Mostess
Tamale Casserole from Esprersso & Cream
Garlic Bread Pizza Crust from How Sweet It Is
Ginger Chicken from No Recipes
Southwest Quinoa Salad from Let's Dish
Buckwheat Pancakes from Eating for England
Roasted Cauliflower and Smoked Cheddar Soup from Eating for England

Things I pinned:
Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon from How Sweet It Is
7 Ways to Cook Tilapia from My Recipes
Creamy Quinoa Primavera from Let's Dish
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce from Small Kitchen College
Great Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from Joan's Bunchberry Bites


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sherri is Getting New Lungs!

In January, I wrote a post about my next door neighbor back home, Sherri, who would potentially be getting a lung transplant. Since then, Sherri has endured some long hours of testing, but has since been told that she is in the window to receive a lung transplant!

As I mentioned in the last post, lung transplants are incredibly expensive, and even after insurance, they are guessing it will still be between $40,000 and $60,000. 

Every little bit helps, so please consider donating(even just $1) to Sherri's transplant fund. I've created a button on the side of my page, with the code for it underneath. I would really appreciate it if you could copy the code and put the button on your site as well.  Please spread the word any way that you can!

If you are unable to donate, and even if you are, please keep Sherri in your prayers.

You can follow Sherri's journey on her personal blog or on the Lungs4Sherri website. 

On the Lungs4Sherri website, it lists multiple ways that you can donate. 

Thanks for helping my friend out!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Guest Post-Snickers Snack Cake Cravings of a Lunatic

I'm so excited to have Kim from Cravings of a Lunatic here today! Kim was one of the first people who connected with me when I first started blogging. I'm so glad she did because I have loved reading her blog! She makes things like Taco Pasta, that makes me want to lick my computer screen, and her plethora of Ice Cream recipes makes me excited for the day I actually have an ice cream maker! Besides awesome recipes, Kim is also one of the most genuine people I've "met" online. You can tell that she is passionate about her blog and puts a lot of hard work and effort into it, and she's also really funny. After checking out the awesome recipe she has for us today, make sure and go check out her blog!

Hi folks. I am so happy to be here today. My name is Kim and I am the lady who runs the asylum at Cravings of a Lunatic. I was so pleased when Erika asked me to guest post for her. I mean another Pepsi junkie, and wild cherry to boot. Erika also made some pistachio cupcakes. So yah, I may just fall in love with this young lady. She is so well rounded in her cooking. I admire her for outlook on life. I also think her and her hubby are too adorable for words. 

If you aren't familiar with my cooking blog it's kind of an indulgent place to hang out. Most of my recipes are rather fattening, full of sugar and not very good for you. I'd apologize but um, er, ah, I really don't feel that bad. Yes I realize I should eat like a grown up but seriously who made the rule that grown ups have to eat things like kale (ew!), spinach (ick!), lentils (blech!) or tofu (barf!). I mean who made up the rules that adults have to eat yucky food. All us adults are walking around miserable cuz we're eating stuff we all hate but pretend to like. And kids are grinning from ear to eat cuz they get to eat fun food. Okay I realize this is a skewed way of looking at things but seriously, I don't even care. I also realize some people eat those things cuz they have to for health reasons so I'll forgive those folks. But the rest of you, well, I don't know if I can let this slide any more. Eat something fun once in awhile. Like chocolate, or candy bars, or chocolate candy bars, or chocolate smothered in candy bars. Okay seriously I think I need professional help sometimes. While I wait for the men with the straitjackets to show up I thought I'd share this with you. I hope you enjoy!

Snickers Snack Cake:
Source: Paula Deen's Chocolate Celebration

Ingredients for the Cake:
1 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla salt
Chocolate Frosting to follow
Directions for the Cake:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 8 or 9 inch pan with parchment paper. (I find wetting it makes it more pliable)
In your mixer combine your butter and your vanilla sugar. Mix on medium speed till fluffy.
Add your eggs one at a time. Beat the mixture well after you add each one. 
Now beat in the vanilla.
In a separate small bowl, you want to combine your flour, cocoa, baking powder and vanilla salt.
Now add this mixture to your butter mixture, beat it until it is well combined. 
Spoon the batter into your parchment lined pan. 
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. You will know when it's done by sticking a toothpick in and pulling it out clean. 
Remove from oven and cover with the Chocolate Frosting (recipe to follow) while it's still hot. 
Once it's frosted let it cool. 
Cut into squares and serve with a big old kiddish smile!

Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
3 1/2 full size Snickers bars, cut into small squares
Directions for Chocolate Frosting:
Place a medium saucepan on the stove over medium to low heat. 
Melt the butter in the saucepan.
Add your cocoa and buttermilk and whisk until your cocoa dissolves completely.
Now gradually add you confectioners sugar and whisk until smooth.
Stir in your snickers bars. 
Now pour over your cake.

Thank you so much to Erika for having me over to her lovely blog today. I am so pleased she asked me to do this. I hope you all enjoyed the recipe. Feel free to pop over to Cravings of a Lunatic so I can tempt you with more "bad for you" food. I am also PinterestFacebook and Twitter. Feel free to stalk me anywhere and everywhere. 
Toodles and smoochies! xx

Wow that looks so good!! I'm excited to try it. Thanks to Kim for posting today! Make sure you go check out her blog!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Venice/Malibu Day Trip

 Prepare yourself for photo overload! Also, my computer is officially gone,  but we can still save my hard drive, we just haven't yet. So, I still only have recent pictures and I don't have Photoshop, so none of these pictures are touched up.

I wrote last week that we were going to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, but after finding the address online first, and then using the GPS on my phone, we couldn't find either of them! We got to the spot where both markets were supposed to be, but there was obviously nothing there. We still had a fun day though. 

After we were unsuccessful with that, I realized we were really close to C&O, so we headed there for lunch. After that, we went over to Venice Beach. Parking was insane(but that is expected), so we were parked pretty far away. While we were walking to the beach, all the sudden we were right on the Venice canals! I was so excited. I had wanted to go here before we left LA, but I didn't know if we would have the time. We strolled around for a bit and checked out the beautiful houses and took some pictures. The water was really nasty, but it was super cool! 

We finally made it to Venice Beach, where we walked around, saw some crazy people, some men in Speedos weight lifting on Muscle Beach, bought my brother and sister some birthday presents, and then watched part of a filming of American Ninja Warrior. 

Once we left the beach, we drove to Malibu. The original plan was just the Farmer's Market and Malibu, but we didn't mind a few extra stops too. The drive to Malibu is on Highway 1, which runs right next to the ocean for the majority of the time. It's a really pretty drive! 

Our destination in Malibu was El Matador beach. We walked around and took pictures and just relaxed here. You have to hike down to the beach(it's a really short but steep hike), but it's so worth it. There was tons of other people there taking pictures too, and one group looked like a pretty risque engagement shoot...we were laughing at the ridiculous poses they were making, and then we were walking around somewhere else, and when we came back, they were in the underwear. Thankfully it didn't go further than that, but it was kind of shocking! 

It was a beautiful day and a fun trip! So glad we got to go! 

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

C&O Cucina-Marina Del Rey, CA

When I was in 8th grade, my school's choir came to Los Angeles to attend the ACDA convention. Besides singing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and getting lost in Chinatown, we also went to the beach, and C&O Cucina. This was the first place I ever tried calamari(it was delicious) and since then, I've always been craving their garlic knots.
Garlic knots!

This restaurant has been on the back of my mind for more than 6 years now, and it was on my list of "Must-do's," while we were in California. This past Saturday, we were trying to find the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, and we couldn't, so on a whim we went to C&O for lunch!

The garlic knots were just as fantastic as I remembered them! The rest of our food was delicious as well. Besides having fantastic food, C&O has an incredibly helpful and friendly staff, and such cute decor!

The menu-I got the Capellini Shrimp. 

The inside. So cute!

This restaurant is pretty close to Venice Beach, so if you're headed there, be sure to stop here for lunch or dinner!

Waiting for my food

Woody's Sun Dried Tomato Pasta.

My Capellini Shrimp!

C&O's is open 7 days a week from 11:30am-10pm on weekdays, and until 11pm on Friday/Saturday. Reservations are not always required, but would be a good idea during busy times. We were able to just walk in and be seated. It is located at 3016 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292.

C & O Cucina on Urbanspoon

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Sooooo my laptop is broken. I'm not sure what's wrong with it, but it's been having issues for a while, and then all the sudden just up and died. Nothing I do will make it even turn on :( I'm just hoping to rescue all my pictures from it!

So, right now I don't have access to all of the pictures from posts I was planning on doing. I do have some from our day trip on Saturday though. I plan on doing a more extensive post with them later on, but here ya go for now!

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Farmer's Market El Segundo

A couple weeks ago, we went to the Farmer's Market in El Segundo. El Segundo is really the perfect little town-it's safe, right near the beach, and it has an kind of "older" feel to it. It's hard to describe, but it's just a cute little town that's been around for over 100 years. If you're visiting LA, you need to make a stop in El Segundo. There's so many great restaurants and cute shops, it will definitely be worth your while!

 Each week, they have a Farmer's Market on Main Street. Luckily, I get to walk by every Thursday on my way home from work. It's not a huge one, but the smells of fresh fruit always draw me in!

Today we are headed up to Malibu, and stopping on at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market along the way. I'm excited! For now, here's some pictures from the El Segundo one.

Seasoned potatoes on a stick! 

Love me some fresh fruits and veggies! 

Also, I've started tweeting again. Feel free to follow!!/erikaalynn

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