Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snowballs and Sweethearts

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I really wanted to post these Christmas cookie recipes earlier, but with the mayhem of the holidays, these festive treats will have to serve as belated gifts :)

Snowball Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
powdered sugar

1. Cream soften butter and granulated sugar. Add in almond extract.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Slowly mix into butter mixture.
3. Add in pecans and mix well.
4. Roll into 1" balls and bake at 350* for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
5. When cool, roll in powdered sugar.

Sweetheart Cookies:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam

1. Cream butter and sugar. Add in vanilla. Slowly add the flour and mix until well blended.
2. Roll out dough 1/8" thick on a well floured surface. Cut out heart shapes with cookie cutter.
3. With a smaller heart cutter, cut out smaller hearts on half of the cookies.
4. Bake on parchment paper at 300 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are very lightly golden.
5. When cool, spread jam on the whole cookies. Place cut out cookies on top to form a sandwich.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Tis the Season

Ever wonder how to host a fabulous gingerbread house making party, but didn't want to deal with all the fuss of rolling out and baking dough? Then try substituting graham crackers and have your guests bring candy decorations potluck-style! Just follow these 5 easy steps to host your own party:

1. Purchase supplies to create a set-up for each one of your guests:

  • 6 whole graham crackers
  • 1 tube of royal icing (see recipe below)
  • foil cake pan or pie tin
  • small plate for holding candy
  • plastic knife for cutting candy/spreading icing
  • paper towel/napkin
  • gingerbread man favor (optional!)

2. Cut 2 of the 6 graham crackers to make the front and back of the house:

3. Make royal icing: sift 5 cups of powdered sugar, add in 3 egg whites and blend in a stand mixer until it becomes the consistency of peanut butter. (Additional powdered sugar or water may be needed to form the proper consistency). Scoop icing into decorating bags and secure with rubber bands. Each batch makes approximately 4 bags of icing.

4. Set out bowls for the candy decorations.
5. Use icing to build and decorate houses. Be creative and HAVE FUN!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Factory

One of the newest eateries in Bixby Knolls (northern area of Long Beach) is The Factory. Don't let the name fool you though - it is anything but factory like! They promote local dining and use produce grown from a farm that is less than a mile away from the restaurant!

A few friends and I were taking a stroll along Atlantic Boulevard for their monthly First Fridays event when we stumbled upon The Factory. With their first operating day being the previous Tuesday, they already seemed to be doing quite well, as the line to order was out the door! We didn't mind waiting because it gave us plenty of time to scope out the menu. I attempted to order the Paella, but it was so popular that night that they already ran out! I opted for the pan seared Garlic Thyme Chicken and wasn't disappointed. Our food was served quickly, but I could tell it was cooked to order because the skin on my chicken was still nice and crispy. It was served on a bed of udon noodles sauteed with mushrooms in the same garlic thyme sauce they used to top the chicken. Finished it off with a tall glass of homemade sangria and I could have called it a night!
The Factory also serves a handful of local beers on tap that are all $5 a glass. They have an outdoor patio area equipped with heat lamps and water bowls for dogs. Another added feature is that they host cooking classes that are kid-friendly and have special wine tastings. Just drop by the restaurant to see when they're offered. However, my favorite thing about this place has to be the late night hours of can't find very many good eats like this after 10PM!

The Factory
4020 Atlantic Blvd.
Long Beach, 90807

T-Th 11AM-11PM
F-Sat 11AM-1AM
Sun 11AM-3PM

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tapas That Tops Them All

A few months ago, a girlfriend introduced me to what is now one of my favorite restaurants - K'ya. Located in Laguna Beach in the lobby of the historic 20s-style hotel, La Casa del Camino, K'ya is an intimate little restaurant that specializes in tapas. They combine fresh ingredients with simple, clean flavors in their wide variety of appetizer and dinner selections. No dish is over $15 and most are around $5-7, but that doesn't mean they skimp on portion size!

We arrived shortly after 7:00PM on a Friday evening and the restaurant was already packed with hungry customers. Since our reservation wasn't ready yet, we decided to have drinks and an appetizer in the lobby. What's great about their drink selection is that most wines and cocktails come in various sizes so you can sample a number of different ones - appropriately matched with their small plates theme. Petite Sangria ($4) for me and the Flash Fired Calamari ($5) appetizer to share. The red Sangria had just the right combination of wine, triple sec, and soda and was tastefully garnished with fresh berries. The tender rings of calamari were tossed in a sweet and slightly spicy Thai glaze with cilantro, peanuts, bean sprouts, and carrots. I was pleasantly surprised that the breading wasn't heavy and didn't lose it's crispness under the glaze.

Just as we finished up our appetizer, we were seated towards the back of the restaurant and were greeted by our (handsome!) waiter. Having looked over the menu in the lobby, we were all ready to order as soon as we sat down. I decided on the Herb Marinated Chicken ($5) and Truffle Risotto ($5). Much to my surprise again, the portions were very generous for being so inexpensive! I was delighted that the chicken was tender and came with grilled eggplant, zucchini, onion, AND asparagus. But the real star of the night was the rich, savory truffle risotto! The combination of the melted Parmesan and grated bits of black truffles created such a velvety texture in my mouth, I had to contain myself from devouring the entire plate!

Dinner, drinks, and an appetizer for under $20 - AND it was delicious? I don't know why you haven't already hopped on the 405 to get down there!

K'ya Bistro Bar
(Inside La Casa Del Camino Hotel)
1287 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, 92651

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This year I made deviled eggs and they are devilishly divine :) Here's the recipe:

12 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
Dash Worcestershire sauce

1. Place eggs in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer eggs for 15 minutes.
2. When cool, crack and peel eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients (except for paprika) and blend well.
3. Fill empty egg whites with yolk mixture and garnish with paprika.

Tip: Use eggs that have been in your refrigerator for about a week - they will be much easier to peel!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fanciful Fruit Cups

Hello friends! Sorry for the short hiatus, but I'm back! Today I will teach you how to easily assemble these colorful and fancy fruit tarts that you've seen in many bakeries and restaurants before.

Frozen puff pastry shells
Instant custard
Apricot jam
A variety of fruits

1. Bake the puff pastry shells as the box indicates. When cool, carefully hallow out centers with a spoon and set aside.
2. Prepare instant custard and spoon into pastry shells.
3. Slice fruit if necessary and arrange on custard in the pastry shell.
4. Melt the jam and glaze fruit with a pastry brush.

TIP: Really impress your friends by making your strawberries into blooming flowers! Simply slice off the tops and flip them over so that the widest part is now the base. Make 3-4 small slices inward, starting from the bottom and working your way up to create "petals." This may take a few tries, so I suggest starting with odd shaped berries first and saving the nicest ones for your presentation. Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Keep The Change, Here's Your TIP

Foodie Tip of the Day:

When chopping food, don't drag your knife along the cutting board to scrape everything together. This just dulls the blade. Instead, flip the knife over and use the top to collect your goodies :)

<3, KellyCakes

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Suck on What?

For months I've been hearing the buzz about The Boiling Crab and have yet to try it until this weekend. After first attempting to dine in at the location on Brookhurst in Garden Grove, we decided just to do take out since the wait was over an HOUR! (Mind you, it was still early in the evening, a mere 5:45PM!) The take out menu is actually ordered at The Boiling Crab To Go, which is just a few stores down from the main location in the same strip mall. To Go was just as crowded, but we were able to order quickly.

1 lb. blue crab, 1 lb. shrimp, 1 lb. crawfish, corn on the cob, and Cajun fries.

The shellfish comes with a choice of seasoning: Rajun Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Butter, or THE WHOLE SHA-BANG! - meaning all three. Of course, I had to get THE WHOLE SHA-BANG!

Take out orders conveniently come with a large piece of butcher paper because the crack-and-eat meal sure gets messy! Each shellfish was bagged separately and filled with generous portions of the deep red, mildly spicy goodness of sauce. The sauce is really what makes the meal here at The Boiling Crab. It balances the right amount of butter and citrus, packs the perfect punch of spice, and adds just enough freshly chopped garlic to leave a unique, but not overpowering taste on your palate. The large shrimps are steamed whole, so when you crack off the head and suck out the creamy matter, you get a generous portion of the flavorful sauce as well. The shrimp itself was tender and meaty; and although already drenched in sauce, I couldn't resist going in for double dips.

After the feast!...

Definitely a winner, but go early to avoid the hour wait!

The Boiling Crab
13892 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove
The Boiling Crab ToGo
13908 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Hope everyone has a fun and safe night!! I LOVE Halloween and this year it's making me go "GaGa" :)

Love, KellyCakes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Definitely A Treat, Not A Trick!

Pumpkin Cupcakes

4 eggs
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
16 oz. pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
dash nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil and set aside. In a smaller bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture a little at a time and stir well. Pour into 24 lined muffin tins and bake at 350* for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*These can also be made into squares by pouring the batter into a 9x13" pan and bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, or until center is done.

This recipe is perfect for any fall get-together, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even when you're craving them in the middle of July! This is a very moist, but not too spongey cake and the cream cheese icing is rich and thick. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg when they are baking really brings you into the mood for Autumn!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beary Adorable!

Was looking through some old pictures and came across the most ADORABLE cupcakes I have ever seen! I'm a big fan of the Forever Friends bears (as seen on Hallmark cards) and I would love to have these for my wedding!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Really Good Potato Salad

This recipe has been a favorite of mine for years. Very basic, but the result is amazing! Try it out at your next BBQ or potluck!

Spaghetti Potato Salad

5-6 white rose potatoes
1 cup spaghetti noodles, broken into 1-2 inch pieces
4 hard boiled eggs
1 cup diced celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice (added to the mayo)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

*Wash the potatoes and place in a large pot filled with water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. (Cooking time may be more or less, depending on size of the potatoes, so check them often!)
*In the mean time, bring a medium saucepan of water to boil and cook the pasta 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
*Chop the celery and onions and set aside.
*Peel the hard boiled eggs (I usually make these in advance to save time) and chop.
*Once the potatoes are done, put them into an ice bath and let cool. Then peel and chop the potatoes and put in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cream of the Crop

When it comes to cafes, Creme de la Crepe sure is the cream of the crop! With two locations in the South Bay and one in Long Beach, Creme de la Crepe offers a wide variety of both sweet and savory crepes to satisfy any palate. Not in the mood for a crepe? They also serve heary soups, fresh salads, appetizers, and traditional French items such as quiche and beef bourguignon.
Although I've been to Creme de la Crepe many times, I always seem to order the same thing: Caprese Panini and a build-your-own Strawberry and Nutella dessert crepe. Both delish! The panini is freshly grilled and filled with roma tomatoes and thick slices of mozzarella. Instead of whole basil leaves like in a traditional caprese salad, they use a basil and oil spread, which still packs in all the great herb flavor! The panini also comes with a baked cheesy, potato layered side (think scalloped potatoes, but with parmesan and asiago) that is to die for! The dessert crepe is stuffed with freshly sliced strawberries and then drizzled with warm nutella - both inside and out. The dish is garnished with freshly whipped cream - nothing out of a can here!

Check them out:
424 Pier Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are You There Martha? It’s Me, KellyCakes.

As I sat in my room one Sunday night, contemplating what to do with my future, the idea of starting a blog to share my creativity popped into my head. All these ideas started flowing about what I could write about…restaurant reviews, party ideas, “how-to” for college kids on a budget, how I’m a recent college grad trying to figure it all out, etc. Hmm…all interesting to me, but who the hell else will want to read my mumble-jumble? Maybe you? Maybe not…Maybe the Editor In Chief at Martha Stewart Living and she’ll give me my dream job of food styling in Los Angeles??? Well, probably not. But, as somewhat of a self-proclaimed Martha myself, hopefully this blog will be more than an outlet of expression for me and actually be intriguing to you guys in the Internet world. Enjoy!