Muffin Mondays | Blood Orange Corn Muffins

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Sunshine in the form of muffins, that is what these are. The inspiration for these comes from amazing sunshine corn cakes from Clementine. They are delicate, crumbly and have a bit of a crunch from the gritty corn. They have a sweet zesty touch from thick bits of orange throughout the muffin and a lovely thin slice of orange baked on top. Those are sunshine corn cakes.

Inspired by these delicious beauties I picked up some super sweet blood oranges from the farmers market this weekend. Blood orange plus corn meal and flour make a perfect muffin. My muffins use blood oranges rather than regular oranges. Let pulp, more juice and zest. They are bright, sweet and bring a little sunshine to your morning!

recipe below…

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Muffin Mondays | Meyer Lemon Blueberry Basil Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Basil Muffins

It has been beautiful and sunny lately here in LA, well minus those rainy days. And all this sunshine and warmth really had me wanting lemonade. In the summers I love making blueberry basil lemonade. Tart and sweet with a wonderfully herbacious nuance from the basil. Since it isn’t quite summer yet, I decided to hold off on the lemonade and instead make muffins. Can we talk about lemon muffins, specifically meyer lemon muffins or cakes or quick breads, I mean there is just something so wonderful about meyer lemon muffins. Are you with me? I love making these meyer lemon muffins and these too! But this new one with blueberries and basil really kicked it up a notch. Juicy and sweet from the blueberrys, and the basil softly wraps around the muffin. Lemony, tender and sweet, I’m just in love with these muffins!

recipe below

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National Pie Day!

Did you know yesterday was National Pie Day? I didn’t either honestly until I saw the twitterverse abuzz with pie. So naturally I had to go celebrate.

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I enjoyed a slice of my favorite banana cream pie from Clementines. The crust is perfection. Slightly salty, crunchy yet crumbly and buttery. The filling is creamy, thick and topped with a generous heap of fresh whipped cream. Not a banana fan, well their key lime pie is equally as delicious.

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If you need an excuse to enjoy pie, how about a belated National Pie Day celebration at the Fruit + Flour ‘Pie of the Month Club‘ event. I am a proud memeber of this pie of the month club and I can happily attest to the beauty of these pies. Each month’s flavors are so lovely, so tasty, so wonderful. This month you can enjoy as slice of lemon tart with rosemary infused crust. See you there?

Mulled Apple Cider Muffins | Muffin Mondays

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Happy Monday! Are you ready to tackle the week? I know I would rather stay in my warm bed than face the cold, but the thought of warm apple cider is enough to get me out of bed. And warm apple cider paired with hot out of the oven mulled apple cider muffins, yes please! Wait mulled means I’m boozing first thing in the morning, a little won’t hurt right. May just be the little boost I need to face the cold day.

They mufins can be as boozy as you like. I tried them brushed with bourbon for a more mulled taste and without the extra bourbon, both were wonderful especially when enjoyed warm. The apples are juicy and soft and wonderfully seasoned with cloves and all-spice. The muffin is crumbly and only faintly sweet. Warm winter spices wrap around the muffin. The cinnamon is most prominent and delicately rounded out by the nutmeg and cardmom. If you love warm mulled apple cider you will love these!

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Bouchon Bakery | The Sweeter Side of Beverly Hills

To start off the new year I went on a sweets crawl of Beverly Hills with my friends Krista Simmons and Nick Wilson. It was epic sweetness overload and the highlight of it was Bouchon Bakery. I could have spent the entire day in that sweet little spot devouring everything they had to offer. From canele’s to chocolate bouchons to bread pudding and even pretzels there was nothing here that I didn’t fall head over heals in love with!

The “queen” of Bouchon Bakery’s pastries truly is the kougin-amann (prounounced queen ah-mahn). The kougin-amann hails from Brittany, France. It is folds of lamenated dough (think croissant meets palmier) sprinkled with butter and sugar with a caramelized sugar bottom. Bouchon’s kougin-amann is doughy and delicate with a sugar coated bottom like a creme brule. It is a disc of caramelized sugar that shatters with each bite, sticky and addictive. This pastry is absolutely heavenly- rich, decadent sugary perfection.

 

You can also enjoy this kougin-amann in bread pudding form. Yes even more butter and sugar, warm and gooey and luscious. Ask for it warmed if you are enjoying it at the bakery or heat it up at home.

 

Another favorite was the seasonal almond croissant. It was floral, zesty gorgeouness. Perfectly flaky, tender and packed with winter citrus. I can’t wait to try their summer version!

Read more about our sweet crawl through Beverly Hills here.

 

 

Muffin Mondays | Gingerbread Muffins

I love gingerbread. The warm smell. The sticky molasses. The spicy ginger. To me gingerbread screams winter time. It makes me want to snuggle up at home with a hot cup of tea. And bite of gingerbread reminds me of childhood in the winter. I remember eagerly devouring gingerbread while shivering from the cold. And I love how powdered sugar dusted over the gingerbread looks like snow. For me nothing signals holiday time more than gingerbread. So thing morning we’re baking gingerbread muffins. They are fragrant, fluffy perfection. The fresh ginger bits sprinkled throughout give it a little kick and really brings out the molasses. Go bake some muffins and fill your home with warmth and beautiful gingerbread aromas.

Gingerbread Muffins

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

pinch ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup light molasses

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup firmly packed minced fresh ginger

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the lower third of oven. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper, then spray the paper. Dust the entire pan with flour and shake out the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, eggs, oil, and buttermilk.

Dissolve baking soda in the cup of boiling water. Fold the baking soda and molasses mixtures into dry ingredients until combined. (Do not overmix.) Fold in the minced ginger.

Scrape batter into the prepared baking pan; bake until cake is set around edges and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Sweet Gifts That Deliver | A Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that gift giving time of year again, have you completed all of your holiday shopping yet? If you need a few fun ideas that don’t even require you to step into a mall or battle for parking, then I’ve got you covered.

Here is my gift guide for the sweet lover in your life (and they all deliver!):

Compartes Chocolates

Gourmet chocolatier Jonathan Grahm crafts beautiful confections from truffles to chocolate bars. My favorite of his chocolate delights are the ‘love nut’ – hand roasted nuts (you choose your favorite nut) caramelized with Tahitian vanilla, sprinkled with a pinch of sea salt, coated in a blend of chocolates and topped with raw cacao powder. They are a mouthful of goodness and make for one sweet present!

Donut Snob

There is bound to be a donut lover in your life (maybe it is yourself) so why not gift them a dozen donuts. LA based Donut Snob delivers specialty donuts, flavors like the Oinker (maple bacon) and Raspberry Lemon Lulu (stuffed with raspberry coulis and lemon zest).  These donuts are pillowy soft and incredible. Who wouldn’t love a box of gourmet donuts delivered to their door?

Le Bon Garcon

Le Bon Garcon is hands down my favorite caramels ever. Justin Chao, the mastermind behind Le Bon Garcon, delicately crafts the butteriest luscious caramels.  These caramels are so good it is hard to choose a favorite. I love the nutty crunch of the macadamia caramels, but I also love the tropical burst from the mango-passion fruit or sometimes I’m in the mood for the simple and classic salted caramel. But the newest holiday flavor – Bon Hiver (persimmon, guava and lime) tastes like a holiday pie. It is slightly spiced, fragrant and just wonderful. Give the gift of caramels this holiday season!

Crème Caramel LA

Crème Caramel LA offers velvety rich crème caramels in assorted flavors along with the most swoon-worthy bread pudding in town. Best part is that you can find that at local farmers markets AND they deliver. A box of crème caramels and bread pudding, I think that would make just about anyone burst with joy.

Coolhaus

How about receiving ice cream monthly. Sounds good right! I think it does. Coolhaus now offers a pint or sammie of the month club. You can pick up in the store or have a new surpise pint or custome four pack of ice cream sammies delivered to your door monthly. It’s like a wine club, but way cooler and sweeter. Anyone want to buy me a membership ;)? Coolhaus also now overs Haus-made products like chocolate nutella spread, marshmallows and bacon salt. Yum!

Poketo

Want something not food related for your sweetie? Then these Poketo tea towels are for you. Featuring hand-printed design in candy pink and cocoa brown, it is adorned with cute images of cakes, pies and ice cream. They are perfect for displaying with your freshly baked muffins or to just hang up in the kitchen. Non-edible sweetness!

Happy shopping. I hope you are able to find the perfect sweetness for your loved ones!

Muffin Mondays | Banana Almond Muffins

I hate to admit this, but I may have overdone it with the sweets lately. Between Thanksgiving and a recent donut binge I think I need to ease up just a bit. So for today’s muffins I cut back the sugar and I added nuts for protein. I’m still going to enjoy muffins, but just a touch healthier than normal. Almond meal and flour go into these nutty banana muffins along with tangy yogurt and a splash of Macallan 12 for good measure! The ripe bananas make up most of the sweetness with just a bit of brown sugar to round everything out. I topped them with almond slivers to add a little crunch. It’s a one bowl muffin that whips up in no time. Pair it with a rich cold brew coffee and you’re in heaven. Hopefully this will be my only treat for the day if I can be good.

Happy Monday!

Banana Almond Muffins

ingredients:

4 very ripe bananas

1 egg, beaten

1 ½  tablespoons of greek yogurt

¼ cup melted butter

1 tablespoon whisky (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup of light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup all purpose flour

¾ cup almond meal

¼ cup almond slivers (optional)

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan. In a large bowl mash the ripe bananas, leaving it chunky. Add the egg and yogurt and whisk to blend. Next add the melted butter, whisky and vanilla extract and whisk to blend. Then add the sugar, baking soda and salt and whisk until incorporated. Sift in the flour and add the almond meal. Gently fold batter together. Do not over mix. Fill muffin pan with batter ¾ full. Top with almond slivers. Bake on middle rack for 18-20 minutes or until muffins spring back when gently pressed. Rotate pan half way through baking. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

National Pastry Day!

Sunday (December 9th) is National Pastry Day! It seems like there is a holiday for every type of food product out there, in fact it seems like everyday is a food holiday. BUT there are two of these food holidays that I completely support – National Pastry Day and National Doughnut Day. Both two very important holidays wouldn’t you say?

So in honor of National Pastry Day I offer you some wonderful pastry selections to drool over! Sweet to savory there is a pastry out there for everyone. What are you waiting for? Go celebrate, every day can be National Pastry Day with the array of awesome pastries LA has to offer.

Recently opened Copenhagen Pastry offers traditional Danish pastries. If you love custard or almond you will love their plethora of pastry because almost each and everyone has either almond or custard or both. The Spandauer has a custard center with tucks of almond pastry lining it’s outer ring of delicate puff pastry. Sweet and simple.

Sycamore Kitchen offers some tasty crostatas, scones, muffins and tarts. In the mornings I love the blueberry almond finanicer, it is sticky chewy and sweet or the sour cherry scone with all of it’s crumbly goodness. In the afternoon I like to treat myself to a brown butter mini date bundt cake, I’m addicted!

 

Who can deny the beauty and pleasure one gets from biting into a croissant! Buttery folds of danish dough. Fill it with ham and cheese and it gets even better! A flaky mess on your lap that leaves your smiling with delight and Proof has a good one. Get their early when they are super fresh!

While it is no secret that I love EVERYTHING at Short Cake, surprisingly I often order the comte thyme croissant. The savory nutty cheese mixed with the fresh thyme fold perfectly into the braided croissant. Each bite is magical (and messy). Perfect for those savory pastry lovers.

Tierra Mia‘s guava and cheese pastry is incredible. I love the combo of guava with sweet cheese, it is tropical and satifying. A magical pairing with their coffee.

If you frequent the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market they you are certainly familiar with Valerie Confections. One of my favorite stops in the market I love their seasonal selection of pastries. If you are a fan of scones their sour cream is to die for, but sells out quick. My favorite is their rotating selection of hand pies. The pies are buttery, flaky perfection. And hey since Sunday is National Pastry Day and the same day as the market so here you go, no excuse not to celebrate!

Morning Buns

I don’t know if you noticed, but I kinda missed Muffin Monday. I just couldn’t find time to bake muffins, gasp! But even though it is Tuesday we should still celebrate with something sweet and baked in a muffin pan. So happy Tuesday I baked you some super easy morning buns. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa on my flight over to Denver.  In the episode Ina Garten make these incredibly simple sticky buns using store bought puff pastry. I had two thoughts when watching this 1) this is awesome now I can have yummy sticky buns in the morning withouth all the work and time and 2) is this actually going to be good that looked a little too easy. So here it is and it was good. Really good!

I just love that you can wake up just a little earlier than usual, throw these together and enjoy hot and fresh sticky buns in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a production and it is still just as satisfying. Fifteen minutes of prep time and thiry minutes in the oven. You can get dressed while they’re baking and when you’re ready to head out the door they’re ready too.  I threw in some orange zest to brighten the flavors and omitted the usual nuts. More of a morning bun than sticky bun.  Go make some easy morning buns you deserve a mid week treat!

Morning Buns (recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Easy Sticky Buns)

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (you can leave this on the counter the night before)

1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted (you can leave this in the fridge the night before to thaw)

For the filling:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon orange zest

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In a bowl combine the 12 tablespoons softened butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 tablespoon of orange zest. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful – they’re hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper.

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