a very happy hour. [blueberry pomegranate drink & blackberry mojito]

August 24th, 2010 by | comments

This past weekend, I invited a few girlfriends over for the evening. Our original plan was to get drinks and appetizers for happy hour in Laguna Beach. But due to the time crunch and our disinclination to spend a boatload of money, we decided to create our own happy hour. We managed to do just that minus spending money on gas, meter parking and a tip.

We wanted to make refreshing and delicious drinks that were all-natural sans the alcohol. I have to give credit to my friend, Ellen, as she was the mastermind behind our two drink concoctions.

Once we finished making the drinks, we lounged in my backyard by the pool, sipping on our cocktails as the sun set. Talk about a perfect weekend night!

continue reading ››

summer soiree. [raspberry lemonade bars]

August 21st, 2010 by | comments

Ok, I know I just made lime bars (here), but I recently found this recipe for raspberry lemonade bars and couldn’t resist—I had to make them. Since I have always relied on my lemon bar recipe for the filling and crust, I was somewhat hesitant on trying a new recipe. I am sure glad I did, however, because these bars were absolutely fantastic.

At times, I’m very impatient when it comes to baking. In regards to these bars, I wanted them to cool in 5 minutes so I could try a bite. Instead of letting the bars chill in the fridge for an hour or so, I figured they’d be just fine after 20 minutes (and they were). My first bite into one of these sweet treats was complete ecstasy. The refreshing raspberry lemonade flavor made them the perfect summer dessert.

Once you’ve finished making the bars, I would suggest keeping them in the fridge so the crust does not get soggy. This way, the bars will stay fresh for more than a few days. If you’re not wild about a ton of filling on top of your bars, just pour half or 3/4 of the mixture on top of the crust. This will tame the sweetness of each bar a bit. (FYI: I used all the filling).

continue reading ››

better than krabby patties. [crab guacamole]

August 19th, 2010 by | comments

Sorry SpongeBob, but this crab appetizer will put your renowned krabby patties to shame. Its got all the delicious flavor with a gourmet twist. The variety of colors and textures in this dish really make it stand out. Your guests will get the impression that you slaved over this recipe, when in reality, it will only take you about 20 minutes.

Now I wouldn’t say I’m a seafood fanatic in the least bit, but the crab in this appetizer is so subtle that I can barely tell I’m eating it. However, I’m sure the avocado, lime juice and garlic helps mask the fishy flavor that I typically despise.

This is the type of recipe that you can alter to your liking. If you aren’t a big tomato fan, don’t put as much in the mixture. If you love avocado (like me), feel free to add more. After all, this appetizer is basically an elevated version of guacamole. Since I doubled the recipe, be sure to add more of the other ingredients accordingly.

continue reading ››

testing 1, 2, 3. [lime bars]

August 17th, 2010 by | comments

After the first time I made my lemon bars, I knew they would be my go-to dessert for any party or get-together. I almost feel guilty when I get multiple compliments on the bars, since they are so easy to make.

There’s no doubt that my friend has been their biggest fan from the beginning. She will often ask me if I can bake them for her just because they sound good at the time—I’ve gotten pleads via text and phone call…and definitely in person.  She made a request the other day, but suggested that I make lime bars instead of lemon. I figured that lime would be just as tasty, so I gave it a shot.

When I tried the lime filling, I almost couldn’t tell that it wasn’t lemon, but still decided to bake the bars. After 40 minutes of curious anticipation, I took the bars out of the oven to let them cool. Although the bars didn’t have as strong of a lime taste as I had hoped, they were still delicious and had the citrus flavor. Next time, I would add more lime juice and add lime zest to give them that tart pop.

Apparently the dessert bars were still a hit, though, since the batches I gave to my friend and left for my brother last night are almost gone!

continue reading ››

jumping for julia. [bruschetta w. roasted plum tomatoes, ricotta & prosciutto]

August 15th, 2010 by | comments

I’m officially inspired. My friend adamantly told me the other day that I had to watch the movie “Julie and Julia.” According to her, I am Julie. After watching the movie, I’d have to disagree a little bit, as I have yet to cook such intricate meals…nor have I ever tried to bone a duck (ew). However, I do mirror Julie’s passion for cooking and sharing it with others via my blog.

I find her tenacity for taking on such a daunting task (524 recipes in 365 days) extremely admirable—especially for someone without any cooking background. Her relationship with Julia Child’s cookbook was clearly a full-time commitment.

The most recent recipe my mom and I tried out was bruschetta with rosemary, roasted plum tomatoes, ricotta and prosciutto from Bon Appetit. Just reading the ingredients makes my mouth water. A series of “mmms,” “yums” and “ooos” will be mumbled after biting into one of these decadent crostinis.

Not only do they taste delicious, but they look it!

continue reading ››

move over beef. [turkey burgers w. sun-dried tomato mayonnaise]

August 12th, 2010 by | comments

It’s all about the turkey in this recipe. I absolutely love cooking these quick and easy turkey burgers. I’d say they definitely give an In-n-Out or Five Guys burger a run for its money. With an equal amount of flavor, why not opt for the healthier alternative? Although, once you add the cheddar cheese and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise, it somewhat defeats the healthy aspect, but there’s no doubt it boosts the flavor tenfold. The succulent vinegar-infused sauce is guaranteed to titillate your taste buds—and it’s a strong competitor with the In-n-Out “special sauce.”

I usually make mini turkey burgers, but decided to make regular-sized patties the other night. The mini burgers, however, are the perfect dinner party appetizer. They’re just like sliders you would order at a restaurant.

continue reading ››

birthday baking. [blueberry & lemon cupcakes]

August 10th, 2010 by | comments

A friend of mine celebrated her birthday last night—and we all know what that meant. I had a reason to bake! I wanted to make something that I had never made before, so I decided on blueberry and lemon cupcakes. The birthday girl was kind enough to share her cupcakes with our table of 12 so that everyone got a taste. I’m not sure how well blueberry cupcakes went with sushi, but they still got two thumbs up all around the table.

Since two of the main ingredients are fruit, one of my friends asked if that meant they were healthy. Unfortunately, I had to say no. But it would be ideal if they were, right?

The sweetness of the blueberries and the subtle tartness of the lemon is a surprising, yet delicious, combination. The recipe initially did not have a strong lemon taste, so I altered it a bit to make sure the lemon stood out. One suggestion for the recipe was to freeze the blueberries for 4 hours. By doing this, the blueberries would not sink to the bottom. I’d say this trick worked!

continue reading ››

chimi-chimi(churri) choo-choo. [steak pita w. chimichurri sauce]

August 8th, 2010 by | comments

All aboard! Let’s take a little trip south of the equator. I guarantee you won’t regret it. With succulent rib-eye steak and garlic-infused chimichurri sauce, your palate will experience an explosion of flavor.

Simplicity seems key to this recipe—multiple condiments are unnecessary. Just pile the steak and drizzle the chimichurri sauce on top of grilled flat bread. Of course if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s no problem with adding a little Cotija cheese, tomatoes or avocado—I just prefer to make the flavorful sauce the star of the meal. I included photos of both options.

continue reading ››

chicka what? [simple hummus topped w. toasted pine nuts]

August 7th, 2010 by | comments

Chickpeas! If the name isn’t ringing a bell, that’s most likely because you’re more familiar with them when in the form of hummus. And I guess that’s really one of the only ways I eat these little guys.

A year or so ago, I remember ordering hummus at a restaurant and wondering if it was difficult to make. I went home and browsed the Internet for some recipes and stumbled upon one that’s very simple and very delicious–I’ve used it ever since. I tweaked the recipe a bit, but it really comes down to how you prefer your hummus: thick/thin, salty/non-salty or spicy/mild.

My mom and I frequent this little Arab market by our house where we can find all the ingredients. (FYI: You might have to go to this type of market, rather than an Albertsons or Ralphs, to find the tahini paste). We absolutely love the market’s Lavash that they bake right in front of you upon order—we rarely walk out of the store without trying a couple bites.

continue reading ››

when eggplant met salsa. [sesame eggplant salsa w. lavash]

August 6th, 2010 by | comments

Disclaimer: don’t judge a book by its cover. This appetizer is absolutely delicious, but it doesn’t necessarily look it. My brothers made sure to point that out. But trust me, I wouldn’t share something that’s anything but scrumptious.

This is a pretty time-consuming dish with a decent amount of ingredients, but it’s all worth it in the end. I can guarantee that people will hover over it at any dinner party or event. Initially I was leary about the ingredients, since I’m not eggplant’s biggest fan, but this appetizer definitely erased my skepticism.

continue reading ››