Friday, December 31, 2010

Orange Hill Restaurant

With the Holiday season come and nearly gone; it's been a busy time.  And, I haven't been on here for a while, sorry.  I thought I'd review a recent restaurant visit, it's a family tradition.  When we first moved to California we came to Christmas Eve and didn't know what to do with ourselves having no family or friends as of yet.  We went to Outback our first Christmas Eve, charming......not.  Then after a few fumbled restaurant visits we settled on Orange Hill, the ambiance is amazing, the view spectacular and the food great. 

Over the years the food sort of went downhill a bit, not hugely but it had slipped slightly  Christmas 2009 we decided to go somewhere else because the year before Orange Hill had served up a really substandard vegetarian dish for my girls.  Well our new choice had been an even worse one so we decided to head back to Orange Hill hearing that they had a new vegetarian dish on their Christmas Eve menu.  We love the feel; and frankly it felt like home we'd been so many times. 

This year the only thing that I was disappointed in was our table location.  We had specifically asked not to be placed in the bar area, it's much louder than the other sections of the restaurant.  As soon as we got there we were lead to our table in the bar area.  It was loud and I really would have liked not to be sitting right beside the bar but we did have a window table, which I guess sort of made up for all the noise.

We were pleasantly surprised by the menu and the food was amazing, every item that was chosen was delectable.  Orange Hill has upped their game, a nice surprise.   One thing that had not changed was the ambiance, and the other their delicious pesto, butter and breads.  I could literally just go there for the pesto, bread and wine.   The Christmas Eve menu is different from their normal menu and new since we last visited.  You choose an appetizer and entry and the dessert was set. 

I had the mushroom soup to start with, it was rich, earthy, a tad spicy and warm, perfect.  My husband had the beef skewers which he said were really great and full of flavor.  Then both myself and my husband had the scallops which was a great choice being that I had eaten so much of their bread and pesto.  The scallops were bacon wrapped and seared to perfection, simply delicious laid on a bed of black rice and baby bok choy.  My daughters who are both vegetarians had the mushroom raviolli as an entry which was fabulous, a very welcome surprise for vegetarian diners.  My son enjoyed the salmon which he said was delicous as was the roasted chicken enjoyed by my daughters boyfriend. 

Dessert was the chefs selection, and it could not have been a better selection.  The waiter described it as a raspberry chocolate mousse sort of thing but I tasted no raspberry in it except for small decoration drizzle on the plate.  We all tasted a hint of mint but the rich chocolate mousse was the hit of the dessert.  It was rich, really rich and anyone who knows me knows that I rarely think anything is too rich.  But being that this was so rich a quarter sized serving would have sufficed.  Other than the crust being slightly tough, it was definitely delectably delicious. 

All in all a wonderful meal, great view and wonderful company.  We'll be back for Christmas Eve dinner next year, definitely hope to be there sooner though.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A little taste of heaven

Sometimes things just work, I mean really work.  When I take a bite of a new experiment and "oh my gosh" is the first thing out of my mouth, that's usually a good thing.  Well, these were one of those.  I call them Almond butter truffles.  I was inspired to make them by the original Peanut butter balls commonly made at this time of year.  I had a new jar of organic Almond butter in the fridge so, gave it a whirl.

After making the filling I wasn't sure that it would be sweet enough.  The almond butter isn't like regular peanut butter with added sugar and "stuff" in it.  It is basically almonds and a bit of salt.  But once dipped into chocolate, cooled and eaten they proved to be perfect.  They are so good and creamy that it is quite difficult to stop at one.  So I've had to ignore them, or at least try.  It has been made easier but suffing them into the freezer, that way I have to thaw first making it more complicated than simply scarfing.  Hope you enjoy. 

Happy Holidays

Almond butter truffles

2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. organic Almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 bag milk choc. chips
Cream, enough to make a creamy consistency

Mix all together very well, add enough cream to make a stand up consistency.  When you pull a spoon through a long strand can stand alone and then start to droop.  Put in the fridge to harden overnight.  Roll teaspoon amount into a ball and place on a tray with parchment.  Put in the fridge again to firm up. 

1 1/2 bags semi sweet chocolate melted,
3 tsp corn oil. 

Mix well and put into deep narrow bowl.  Dip each ball into the choc. and shake off well.  Sprinkle immediately so that the sprinkles stick.  Once the chocolate cools, ENJOY!!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The amazing Nanaimo Bar

It's been a while, but t'is the Season of goodies, so I will hopefully have time for more posts because there will be a whole boatload of treats made at my house.  I baked Nanaimo bars today, I'm on the Joy of Baking on Facebook where they posted about Nanaimo bars today.  So I was inspired to make my first of many batches.  The Nanaimo bar was originated in.....................................................................Canada.   They were originally thought to have been the invention of some wonderful baker in Nanaimo, BC.  But it seems that there is conflicting information on their true origin.  They may have originated somewhere in Alberta, possibly Ladysmith, BC, who knows.  But wherever they come from they are very Canadian.

I have been making Nanaimo bars my whole married life (26 years).   There are many different recipes but they are generally similar.  Nanaimo bars are deliciously creamy, chocolatey, nutty squares that do not require oven baking.  They are by far the favorite in this household over the holidays and pretty much a big hit for those who have tried them.  No one person that I have asked in Southern California has ever heard of them.  I know this because as soon as you say Nanaimo, they say "Nan what?"  They are delicious and I grew up eating them.  No they are not calorie free, nor are they sugar or fat free.  They are filled with everything that makes them worth every caloric bite.  And I say if it's not worth the calories, why eat it? 

Some Nanaimo Bar interesting sites.

Practically Edible


Joy of Baking - with recipe

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adventures in Puff Pastry

I had my girlfriends over for dinner and lots of wine drinking on Friday night and decided to experiment with puff pastry. My mom raves about the stuff and told me that Trader Joe's only stocks it this time of year, so I figured I should finally give it a try.

I decided to make an appetizer with it, and since my main course was veggie lasagna, I knew it had to be 'Italian-ish'. I want to start using eggplant more and happened to have fresh basil lying around, this was how I created Eggplant Puff Pastry Crisps. The dish was a hit! I think I'll make it and variations of it again over the holidays! Check out my recipe below,

1 package frozen puff pastry
1 eggplant
1/2 cup white wine (any kind you like)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
approx 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp butter + more to taste :)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4-6 fresh basil leaves (julienned)

Cut eggplant into dime sized pieces.
Simmer wine, butter and minced garlic in a large skillet on medium for 5 minutes. Add thyme and chopped eggplant and let cook until all the wine evaporates and eggplant begins to brown. Add another tbsp butter to the pan and let eggplant cook up to 10 minutes or until it's caramelized. Remove from pan and let cool.

Defrost puff pastry and cut into playing card sized rectangles. Follow baking directions on puff pastry package. Remove puff pastry 1/2 way through the baking process and sprinkle each rectangle with 1 Tbsp of cheese and 2 Tbsp of eggplant mixture. Put baking sheet back in the over and allow puff pastry to finish cooking.

When pastry is golden brown remove from oven and sprinkle with julienned basil.

Serve warm.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chicken crepes

Late Saturday afternoon I thought that I might just make chicken crepes for dinner; I hadn't made them in years and they are fabulous.  As I often do on the weekend I puttered my time away working on photos and doing a bit of this and that until it was 5:30.  That didn't give me much time to make crepes; but I headed down to the kitchen and dug in.  I really felt like having crepes so they were done in speed mode but turned out just as yummy.

The actual crepe part is very easy to do; much like pancakes that just don't rise.  There are a couple of things to remember;

1.  You cannot leave the pan while cooking crepes, it happens very quickly.
2.  You must put either waxed paper or parchment between each crepe as they come out of the pan.  Otherwise you'll be left with a big mound of stuck crepes.

The longest part of these crepes is the chicken and mushrooms that need cooking.  Once the filling is cooked up it is nothing to put them together and pop them into the oven.  The smell of them cooking is heavenly.

I got this recipe over 30 years ago in High School; we made them in Home Ec class.  And each time I make them I think back to the wonderful teacher I had that year; she was very inspirational and a wonderful woman, Mrs. Bewley.

1 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten well
1 1/4 c. milk
2 tbsp melted butter

Mix flour and salt together, mix eggs, milk and butter together.  Use electric mixer or whisk and mix together until smooth.  Best made an hour ahead of cooking or overnight.

Pour about 3 tbsp. of batter into a hot well oiled pan.  Immediately rotate pan so that the batter covers the entire bottom.  Crepe should be as thin as possible.  As soon as the edges brown; flip over.  Let brown slightly and remove and place parchment or waxed paper between each.  Set aside for filling later.

Filling Chicken Crepes

1/2 C butter
1/2 flour
1 1/2 half and half
1 cup well seasoned chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C cooked mushrooms chopped
2 tbsp dry sherry (or more)  ;)
1/2 C. sour cream

Make a roux with the butter and flour; add cream, broth and salt and pepper to make a nice cream sauce.  Divide sauce in half; to one half add chicken, Sherry and mushrooms for filling.   In the second half add sour cream for sauce on top.  Roll crepes with about 1 -2 tbsp of chicken mixture and place into baking dish seam down.  After complete; cover with sour cream sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan reggiano and chives.  Bake at 350 for about 20 min, until hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Yum.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall soup

Is there anything better than soup and fresh bread on a rainy day?  Soup simmering in a slow cooker all day filling the house with the aromas of your childhood is pretty good.  I thought soup was a good idea; it's pouring out which I love and take advantage of when we get them so soup it was.  I decided to throw it all into the slow cooker; so much less work.  I started by coating the entire crock with olive oil, added a half chopped red onion, about a cup of shredded carrot, vegetable broth and crimini mushrooms.

Next I oven baked a squash and once it was done I scooped that into the soup.  I threw in a cup of shredded green cabbage and locked'r down for a couple of hours.  It took no time to fill the house with the warm smells of soup cooking.  I love that; knowing that dinner is being made whether I am present in the kitchen or not.  I am really starting to like this slow cooker thing.

After several hours I opened it up and had a taste.  Always be very careful when you taste food made in the slow cooker, it's freaking boiling.  So; the soup had a lot more flavor than I had anticipated.  I added some white wine; wine is almost always a nice addition.  Then thought about my flavorings; you can go many different way with a soup like this.  Being that it was raining and reminding me very much of a day back home I decided to go the turkey soup route.  I got out the poultry seasoning and added about a tablespoon; just the smell brings me back to Thanksgiving dinner.  I added some salt and pepper and that's it; lid back on until dinner time.

I will serve it with a nice loaf of fresh whole grain bread with a some Tuscano cheese.  For dessert?  Fresh baked Oatmeal cookies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm lucky enough to work in a non-profit organization with very a diverse and wonderful staff. Eating lunch in our break room is always an interesting culinary adventure. Almost every day for lunch, each one of us has different type of cultural or ethnic food. It's common that in one afternoon there will be Iraqi, Lao, Turkish, Ethiopian, Chilean, Ugandan, Mexican and Italian food- all at the same table. This is not the type of office where people are brown-bagging a turkey sandwich and an apple.

It's always exciting to see what everyone brings and to hear how they make it. We all automatically become foodies- the staff has no choice, it's just all so interesting. To me, the Ethiopian dishes always smell the best. I love Ethiopian food and the dishes in our lunch room usually consist of potatoes, greens, or cabbage with warm smelling unfamiliar spices that I can never put my finger on.

As you can tell, I view my co-workers lunch box contents very warmly and think of each day as a fun, world food experience. That was until today. Today has stunted my culinary curiosity. I hope this isn't permanent but I find myself longing for the scent of microwaved Lean Cuisines the elementary school PB&J's. I smelled a food so awful today that any time I recall its scent, I get goosebumps- seriously.

The food that destroyed my nasal passage and has left me in nauseous convulsions is called Pahdek. I can't think of how to best describe this edible concoction so I've decide to leave the details up to Wikipedia: "Padek is a traditional Laotian condiment made from fermented or pickled fish that has been cured. Often known as Laotian Fish Sauce, it is a thicker, seasoned fish sauce that often contains chunks of fish in it. The fermentation takes a long time, giving Padaek a rich aroma similar to fine cheeses..."

Let me start my rant by saying that I'm not a complete Asian food amateur, I know all about the complexity of fish sauce and how commonly used it is in many cuisines. But Lao fish sauce ain't no ordinary, slightly aromatic, mildly fishy sauce. This isn't the thin, clear fish sauce most of us Westerners are used to. This is a black, thick, insanely fowl smelling substance. I love my amazing Lao friend who excitedly explained to me this morning that she brought her favorite sauce to work. Next, she told me that her mom warned her not to bring the sauce to work and that she was nervous about how other staff members might judge its smell. "Who cares what they think!" I naively assured her, "It can't be that bad- we're used to all the random ethnic food smells!" Oh god, was I wrong. So, so wrong.

I consider myself to have a pretty open mind and invited my friend to open her sauce as we all ate together. The moment she cracked the lid I felt like I was slapped across the face with a dead body. " Oh my gosh, I'm sorry but that smells really strong," I commented trying to be as polite as possible.

"Wait no, that smells like VERY, strong. Wow, I don't think I can handle that being right next to me!" I said, then timidly asked my friend if she could try to keep the lid closed and move down a few seats.

Everyone at the table simply could not believe how intense this stuff smelled. Let me attempt to describe the many odors that create the intricate Lao fish sauce smell: dead fish (duh!), bile, blue cheese, vinegar, a polluted river, parmesan cheese, more fish and finally, a touch of garlic.

I learn something new about food every day in my office, but I never expected to become acquainted with smell of death in a busy San Diego non-profit. If you take anything away from this story, I hope it's that if you ever hear someone from Laos talking about Pahdek- You'll save yourself and start running away. Run farther and faster than you've ever ran before.

*image from:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Red snapper

I made snapper last night; a first.  I've made many types of fish but never this one so I got out my trusty laptop and had a look around at what others do with this fish.  Seems like blackening spice and red pepper are the trend so I set off to try.  I cut rings of onions and threw them in the pan; tossed them around until they were lightly browned and set them aside.  I got the snapper out; washed it and patted dry, squeezed lemon on each piece and salt/pepper.  I sprinkled lightly with Cajun blackening seasoning and added the onion on top.  Then poured the olive oil that I had cooked the onion in over the top of the snapper.  Popped it into the 400 degree oven for about 20 min.

As a side I decided to try something new as well; it's squash season and we are big squash eaters.  I got some puff pastry at Trader Joe's, time to stock up on it as they only carry it in the freezer dept. this time of year.  So I cooked the squash; stirred in butter, salt and pepper.  I rolled the squash in the puff pastry and topped with some pecans.  I love puff pastry; I've got a lot of Scottish blood in my veins so this is my excuse.  :)  Anyway it turned out amazing; great alternative to just simple squash and it was very easy.  It too cooked about 20 min. in the 400 degree oven.

Now for the snapper; it was really good, lightly seasoned and very moist and tender.  Being that I am not actually a big fish fan; I do not like the fishy taste of some fishes.  Halibut is by far my favorite although this was pretty darn good.  It was light in flavor, not fishy.  It had a more meaty texture than Halibut and a little more flavor.

Dessert?  Apple cheesecake.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cooking weather

It's chilly and raining; two ingredients much sought after for being in the mood, the cooking/baking mood, at least for me that is.  I love cooking when it is cold, dark and rainy out.  I like cooking most of the time but if it's really hot; forget it.   Last night was a bit different; I left cooking to the last minute.  I'd been busy doing other stuff and finally ran downstairs to ponder dinner.  The mushrooms caught my eye; that was that.  I started simmering them in a pan with some garlic.  Once they made some nice brown stuff on the bottom of the pan I poured in a good amount of wine to pull that flavor off the surface of the pan and into the sauce. 

Once everything was simmering nicely I added tomato sauce, Parmesan reggiano, fresh basil, salt and pepper.  I let that simmer for at least 20 and threw the pasta on.  Made a quick arugula (of course) salad with a pile of fresh tomatoes and poured myself a glass of wine. 

Tossed a little extra mozzarella cheese on top with some fresh basil; done.  I do love Italian.  

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Il fornaio

After a crazy week; a not so great week, I needed a break so my hubby took me to Il Fornaio.  It is one of my favorite local restaurants.  Il Fornaio is located in Irvine on Von Karman Ave.; an easy get to restaurant off of  Jamboree exit at the 405.  When we got there last night it looked like maybe a wedding reception was going on; I didn't realize that they held events like that here.  The valet parking is validated before you leave making it very nice to drive right up to the front.  Happily there was lots of room inside and we got a lovely table by the window. 

The service is good here; prompt and friendly.  As soon as we sat and ordered our wine; which I cannot remember the name of now but was amazing, they brought us our bread with olive oil and balsamic.  Oh; and we always order butter with our bread as well, there really is nothing better than good bread and butter.  Last night they had a new bread in the basket; it was a delicious white bun filled with green olives.  I cannot remember the last time I tasted bread quite as good as this and I will be trying to find the recipe.  It was soft and filled with flavor plus the added olives as well.  Yum.  This tasty treat is located to left of the basket.

I really didn't need to look at the menu; I always have the same dish, I love it and look forward to it specifically.  I have the Cappellacci di Zucc; butternut squash filled raviolli with tomato and brown butter sauce, walnuts and crispy sage leaves, delicious.  The crispy fried sage leaves are to die for; very different but something I look forward to with the raviolli.  I'm not sure how many times that I have had it but not once have I been disappointed.

 My husband often has the same dish as I but this night he had their Restaurant week special; which includes an appetizer, main dish and dessert.  His first course or Antipasti consisted of grilled scallops, shrimp and calamari drizzled in pesto sauce.  We shared the dish; it was plenty big enough for two and delicious.  The scallops were so tender that we barely had to chew; simply enjoy.  The next dish was his main course which was a double breast of chicken; roasted potatoes and spinach.  The chicken was amazingly tender; spicy yet not firey. 

Finally the piece de resistence which was a decadent hazelnut frozen custard like dessert; drizzled in chocolate, fresh whipped cream and topped with candied orange.  It was a delectably rich, creamy and amazing as well. 

A decaf coffee to go with the dessert and we had enjoyed another wonderful meal at Il Fornaio.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Hmmmmm; you learn something new everyday.  "I love Nutella"; there I said it.   When I say I love it; I really mean that I love it; in fact I love it so much that the only thing I usually pair it with is a spoon.  So; yesterday I was jonesing for some chocolate when I remembered the big jar of Nutella I'd bought the day before.  Yes; score!!!!!!!!!!!!! "that'll hit the spot." So I searched the cupboard and could not find it, I thought about the idea of having left it at the store.  I couldn't have left it at the store.  "I'm sure I unpacked it."  I started to panic when I opened the refrigerator and there it sat.  Weird; and it was open already, someone had already been into the jar of glory.

I grabbed it and head up to my computer to work.  When I opened the jar and looked in; the Nutella was hard.  Hmmmm; never knew that cold Nutella was hard, we never keep it in the fridge.  It's hard enough to bend a spoon and you really have to work to get at it.  So; I've learned that keeping the Nutella jar in the fridge can be a good and bad thing. 


Slows down the eating process.

Burns more calories; much more work to get a spoonful.

More likely that I will stop eating before I get a stomach ache.

Spoonfuls are much smaller.

Makes for a tastey treat.


Slowing down the entire process.  ;)

Sometimes there are no words needed

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quick and easy

These days everyone is in a hurry; food has become a "git'r done" sort of event.  But; busy doesn't mean that you need to skimp on nutrition.  Fresh can be very quick and easy.  I just about live on salads; I'm obsessed with Arugula so that is the base for most of them.  To the wonderful mound of Arugula I add; chopped cabbage, cheese, nuts, tomatoes, carrot or whatever else strikes me. I often pile leftover pasta on top of my salad; love it.   This let's me eat a substantial amount of food; so I don't feel ripped off and I feel really healthy.  It takes all of 2 minutes to throw together; helps keep you out of the fast food lines and you can't eat this and not feel good about it. 

The other night I made marinated grilled Ahi Tuna sandwiches.  Talk about fast and easy.  I had a loaf of Rosemary and Olive Oil bread in the freezer; got that out.  Threw the ahi in a container with some Goddess dressing for the afternoon and head out for some more Arugula.  Making this really great sandwich was again fast and easy.  Baked one potato; then tossed the fish into the oven, sliced the bread and mixed some spicey mustard with mayo.  When the fish was done I toasted the bread just for a second and put the sandwiches together.  They were a big hit and very simple. 

One tip for ease of meal preparation and saving money is to plan.  If I don't plan a meal, we often eat out due to a lack of planning.  So a bit of planning can save you money in the long run.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

You wanna go where everybody knows your name

Just imagine; walking into a restaurant, cafe or coffee shop and having the servers bring you your regular.  Or even coming to your table and asking you if you'd like your usual.  Is this even possible nowadays?  Well; a couple of things to consider.  One you can frequent a smaller town place where they don't have so many people that you simply are a number or two; you frequent the place a lot.  Well; we frequent BJs a lot and there are two girls that work there who know what we want.  It is an amazing feeling; we sit down and they ask us "two blondes? or a blonde and a red?"  And they even know what we want to eat.

The first time it happened I was shocked; the sort of shocked where you are looking around like "okay; what's going on here?"  Living in Southern California; you get a sense that no one will ever remember you.  I've been going to the same grocers for years; and only a couple of the people that work there seem to maybe remember me a bit.  Let's face it; there's a crap load of people here.  And it takes someone who is going beyond the call of duty to recognize a face; or care to. 

So; what's good at BJs?  As I said we are regulars, like every week regulars.  Pretty much everything is good; I have not been disappointed as of yet.  My favorite right now is the California club flatbread pictured above, yum.  It's lighter than the pizza and doesn't leave me feeling so full after having a beer as well.  I like the mini pizza; the Great White is pretty amazing and the Veggie.  I also really like the chicken Quesadilla from the small snacks menu.  I always order their own Blonde beer; it's won lots of awards and always goes down nicely with whatever dish I order. 

The atmosphere is pretty typically Brew House; a cross between sports bar and pizza place.   A very family friendly eatery; a bit noisy at times but it is very reliably good.  They have a great Happy Hour; but you must sit in the bar area to get the discounts.  During Happy Hour we can both have a beer and mini pizza for 20.00 imagine.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Easy Peasy Cheesey

Dinner doesn't always come easily; sometimes I sit pondering about the meal and get nothing, no ideas, no inspiration.  But the other night I was inspired by Zach; a reader and Facebook member.  He posted an image of a pizza he made and explained how easy the dough was; no yeast!  No yeast?  What?  I'll make it tonight I thought.  So the dough uses beer and baking powder; a whole can of beer.  And like Zach said it was ready in 15 minutes.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tblsp baking powder
1 can or bottle of beer

I mixed the dry ingredients in my mixer and threw in the beer; Coors light.  I mixed it for about 2 minutes to make sure everything was good and blended; plus it took a while for the beer to soak in.  I dropped it out onto a  cutting board and used about 1/4 cup more flour while kneading it.  I let it rest for a bit; and the rolled it out to a full sized cookie sheet; leaving more around the edges for a crust.  I then coated all the edges with olive oil.

Now this is the part where you can do whatever you want.  I used tomato sauce, black olives, Parmesan reggiano, fresh basil, garlic powder, veggie Italian sausage and lots of mozzarella.   Baked it at 375 for almost 30 min.  I think the dough could have used a bit of zazz; maybe I'll put some herbs in it next time.   It was really good and; it's gone.  And as Jamie said in her breakfast blog; I had it for breakfast this morning.  ;)

Thanks Zach; this will definitely be on my regular list now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a hippie's version of white chocolate brownies

If you know me, you may say that I'm a hippie, a tree-hugger, an animal rights activist, or maybe even all of the above. I cannot deny these claims... but if you know me as well as my closest friends and family do, you would know that more than all of those things I am a chocolate fiend. I love chocolate. Period. Anything and everything chocolate. Any kind of chocolate at any time of the day. If it has the word chocolate in it, you can bet that I'll be eating it. Seeing as how my sweet tooth and my love of all things "hippie" are fairly definitive of the person that I am, I figured I would make my first blog about the most cliche combination of the two. Here is how you make tie-dye white chocolate brownies...

You will need:
8 ounces of white chocolate chips
6 tablespoons of butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of flour
A splash of vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 baking pan and set it aside (or if you wanna add a little extra love, use a heart shape pan like I did).

Start by using a double boiler to gently melt the white chocolate chips with the butter. Once it is melted and smooth, remove it from the heat. Let it cool down for just a second, but continue to stir so it does not solidify. Add in your sugar and both eggs, stirring until it is completely creamed together.

Add in the vanilla and the flour and mix well. If you are in the mood for some good ol' fashion beige-looking brownies, you can throw this batter into your pan and voila! You will have some yummy white chocolate brownies. However, if you want to channel your inner Janice Joplin, this is where you need to put in a little extra work.

Divide the batter into as many bowls as colors that you would like to use. I used four; red, yellow, blue, and green. Use a couple of drops of food coloring for each divided portion of batter and stir until the color is completely blended. Pour one color of the mixture into your greased pan at a time, trying to keep that color confined to one corner/side. Once all the colors have joined the party, you can take a knife and make a quick zig-zag across the batter to make a tie-dye-like pattern. Be careful not to mix too much, or you'll end up with some nasty lookin' swamp-colored brownies. 

Pop them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the edges start to look a little brown, and a toothpick comes out clean. 

You'll notice in the pictures that I also made some tie-dye frosting for these woodstock-inspired desserts... because I LOVE frosting. However, once I tried the final product, I felt they  could have done without. I might try a simple white chocolate drizzle next time... because I will definitely be making these again! Enjoy.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This is my first official post on Flavor Gossip- a foodie 'esque' blog where my sister, my mom and I will discuss the foods we eat and cook at home and when we travel. We'll gossip about the cafes we visit, the farmers markets we frequent, what we're served at five star restaurants, dinner parties, weddings, baby showers and holidays. Hey- if you can eat it, we'll analyze it, make fun of it and if it's good enough, you might even see us poetically deify it.

Since this my first post, I thought it'd be fitting to discuss the first meal of the day.

Who doesn't love breakfast? I can't think of a person (even a vegetarian person, which I am) who isn't immediately sent into a sniffing frenzy when the warm aroma of smokey bacon wafts through the kitchen in the morning. There is something deeply nostalgic about the sounds, sights and smells of traditional breakfast. Imagine sunny orange slices leaning perfectly against triangle toast slices on round white plate, the sound of a 50's era stepford wife cracking eggs on a glass bowl or the bubbling hiss of an espresso machine in a bustling coffee house. Breakfast comes in so many forms, whether you're the simple cereal and milk type, the full on eggs and hash browns kind, or the busy Venti coffee and a muffin sort, we all have our own favorite way to start the day.

My day must begin each day with good coffee. Period. After that, I'm not really too picky except that I tend to stray away from typical breakfast foods. I blame this on my mother (what an original concept huh?), who, for as long as I can remember fed me a vast array of un breakfast foods for breakfast. My typical childhood b-fast foods were, left over lasagna, a homemade quesadilla covered in my favorite salsa, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich. I just can't bring myself to have a danish or some granola when I could have some hearty vegetarian chili instead. I crave REAL food in the mornings. It's not that I don't enjoy the taste of a warm glazed donut, a fresh chewy bagel or a slice of toast with jelly, it's just that if I start my day off by eating something completely void of protein and uh...substance, I'll feel a zombie. I think those 'continental breakfast' foods are better left as a late night snack or food you eat at meeting out of desperation. Though I'm not the breakfast food type, I can appreciate a nice restaurant omelet and a comfy weekend style breakfast with fruit, potatoes and eggs done just right. But for my daily life, it's good coffee and something you'd be having for lunch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chocolate afternoon break

Thought I'd just post some scrumptious photos for the afternoon

Bananas and oatmeal

Is there anything that smells more like home than banana bread baking in the oven.  I've eaten so much of it over the years that I tend to steer away from the almighty banana.  But as I was cleaning up the kitchen yesterday I saw those spotted fruit staring at me; begging to be thrown into a mixing bowl.  Okay fine but I need something else; oatmeal.  I looked up an oatmeal and banana loaf recipe and found it on; which is one of my favorite recipe site.

I very rarely make a recipe as is; I typically switch things out when I think it would be better.  Most of the time it works; sometimes I should have followed the recipe.  This was great as I changed it.  I switched out shortening for butter; and used brown sugar instead of white.  I cut the sugar in half and used 1/2 cup of honey as well.  I added chopped pecans for some extra protein and chopped some giant raisins up and tossed them in as well.  It is really great; heavier than the fluffy type loaf but definitely leaves you feeling like you just ate something that will stick to your ribs.  Ingredients below:

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup oats

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (I used three medium)

  • 1/2 cup chopped raisins (optional)

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (chopped myself; so they were larger than the prechopped ones)
  • Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Native Foods

    I was at Native Foods for lunch today; it is a vegan restaurant in Aliso Viejo.  I brought my trusty camera so I could photograph the goods; but unfortunately I ate the food before thinking about shooting it.  This is a rare occurance for me but I guess I'll chalk it up to being very hungry and anticipation.  Knowing what I'm in for has me anxious to dive in and before you know it; presto, it's gone. As I sat looking at the empty plates; the photo came to mind, "crap I ate it."  I almost always order the Native chicken wings; of course being that it is a vegan restaurant; there is no chicken in the chicken wings.   I'm a big chicken tender/finger fan and these do not disappoint; they are one of my favorites.

    We also added a side dish of sweet potato fries to our meal.  I am also a huge fan of these little strips of glory; and again Native Foods does it great.  Delicious and flavorful, these fry alternatives made from the sweet potato are nutrient rich.  I keep sweet potatoes on hand all year; both for us and our dogs.

    I've eaten several items listed on the menu and have loved them all.  Even if you are not a veggie or vegan you will enjoy eating at Native Foods.  The food is fresh and when you leave you have that "I feel healthy" sense about you.  Today we decided to try a dessert as well; first time.  The cupcakes at Native foods look delicious; we asked for a recommendation and the gal at the cash told us the chocolate cupcake was her favorite.  Well it was pretty fabulous I have to say.  I tried the frosting and cake separately so I could get the full flavor of both; then together.  I don't know how they do it vegan but they've figured it out.

    These images below were sent from Native foods for me to post.  Thanks Andrea


    Welcome to our new blog; Flavor Gossip.  We (Jamie, Nicole and Sherri Regalbuto) will discuss food in it's entirety.  Eating out, critiquing, creating, recipes, new name it.  If it has to do with food; we're talking about it.  Here's to good food.