September Sangria

september sangria 02

Sometimes you just need a really good drink. By sometimes I mean probably several times a week. I love to try out new specialty drinks at bars, but I also love trying out my own hand at tending bar from home. I’m a big fan of Sangria. Most of the time I really prefer a white sangria, but I was really craving something red, so I whipped up this little concoction.

september sangria 03

I like to pretend that sangria is healthier than other drinks because of all the fruit. That’s definitely true, right? This version is even healthier because it’s made with 100% pomegranate juice which is a good source of potassium. So, drink to your health and enjoy a glass (or two or three) of this delicious red sangria.

 

September Sangria:

ingredients:

1 bottle red wine of your choice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup tonic water

1 cup pomegranate juice (I used pom wonderful)

2 lemons

2 oranges

10-12 strawberries (plus more for decoration)

 

instructions:

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan to create a simple syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue cooking until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Combine simple syrup, wine, pomegranate juice, tonic water, and brandy in a pitcher. Take 1/2 of a lemon and 1/2 of an orange and squeeze juice into pitcher. Slice the remaining orange and place in pitcher with sliced strawberries and 1 sliced lemon. Leave 1/2 remaining lemon to slice and use as decoration. Place in refrigerator and allow flavors of the fruit to infuse for at least 4 hours.

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Six: Gobble Gobble Goodies

I don’t know how the rest of you are feeling, but I just have to say that Thursday cannot come soon enough for me! Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday. It means time with family, lots of delicious food and what I consider the start to the holiday season. This year it seems like it is taking forever for the big turkey day to get here! While we are waiting for the arrival of Thanksgiving, take a peak at some of these fantastic goodies to make your Thanksgiving even more glamorous and fun! I mean, who wouldn’t love to carve the turkey with a golden knife?!

Gobble Gobble Goodies

01. HILLCREST CHARGER PLATE BY KELLY WEARSTLER

02. NAMBE COPPER CANYON WINE COASTER

03. ELK HORN SERVEWARE FROM ANTHROPOLOGIE

04. ANTHROPOLOGIE AUREUX CARVING KNIFE

05. ‘CHEERS’ DOUBLE OLD FASHIONED TUMBLER FROM TARGET

06. MARCHESA BY LENOX 3 PIECE SERVING SET

PS- If you are looking for any last-minute ideas for something sweet to finish up your Thanksgiving meal with, try these cupcakes or this easy apple pie!

XO

Classic Apple Pie With Crumb Topping

I recently got to cross off a few things on this years fall bucket list, one of them being to pick some fresh apples! It was freezing the day I went, but it was an awesome experience and it gave me tons of apples to make delicious treats with! I shared my quick recipe for apple pie candy apples already, so I though I would share my apple pie recipe. It’s so delicious that I find it hard not to go back for a second slice!

Apple Pie Crumble Top 1

CLASSIC APPLE PIE WITH CRUMB TOPPING

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • 6 Medium Sized Apples*
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • A Few Dashes of Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Apple Pie Spice

*I used Cortland.

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel apples and cut into thin slices. Place in large bowl and toss with lemon juice

3. Add flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice to apple and stir until each slice is coated with equal amounts.

4. Roll out pie crust in round pie dish and cut excess off of edges.

Apple Pie Crumble Top 3

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 1/8 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Stick Butter (Room Temperature)

Directions:

1. Cut the butter into four equal pieces and place in bowl. Add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, sugar, and apple pie spice.

2. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to mash ingredients until well combined and made into small chunks.

3. Spoon topping over pie until completely covered.

4. Cover pie with foil and back at 350 for 30 minutes.

5. Remove cover and continue baking for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Apple Pie Crumble Top 2

 

Enjoy!

XO

Apple Pie Candy Apples

One of my very favorite sweet treats is the apple pie candy apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. It’s so delicious and I always feel a little less guilty for indulging since a large part of the treat is an apple, which makes it totally healthy, right?! I like to pretend that is true!

This fall, I decided that I would try to re-create the apple pie candy apple on my own. I must say, it turned out quite delicious and it was very easy and pretty fun to make! I’ve shared my simple recipe with you all below, let me know what you think!

Apple Pie Candy Apples 3

APPLE PIE CANDY APPLES

Ingredients:

  • 5 Green Apples*
  • White Baking Chocolate
  • 1 Bag Kraft Caramels
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 5 Sticks or Skewers

*It is best to use a sour green apple, it contrasts well with the sweetness!

Directions:

1. Wash your apples, twist off the stems, and insert your wooden sticks into the center.

2. Unwrap the Kraft Caramels and place into a small pot (preferably a deep one). Add 2 Tbsp water and heat on medium, stirring occasionally until melted.

3. Dunk the apples in the caramel. If the caramel does not reach near the top of your apple, you can tilt the pot to get the apple deeper. Spin the apple to let excess caramel drip off and scrap the bottom.

4. Place the apples on wax paper or greased foil. Let cool for 20 to 30 mins. If the excess caramel has formed a puddle around the bottom of the apple, simply fold it over around the bottom.

5. Repeat step 3 and 4. By double dipping, you really get the best flavor!

6. Combine Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, and Sugar.

7. Melt your white chocolate in a double boiler to ensure that it comes out smooth. If you do not have a double boiler you can fill a frying pan with water and place the chocolate in the bowl in the center of the pan on medium heat. Stir until completely melted.

8. Dunk the apple in the melted chocolate, letting excess drip off.

9. Pat the cinnamon and sugar mixture around the outside of the apple.

10. Let cool for at least 1 hour. For best results, cool in refrigerator so that the caramel hardens completely.

11. Cut, serve, and enjoy!

 

Apple Pie Candy Apples 1

Apple Pie Candy Apples 2

XO

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

One of my favorite things about fall is the fact that I can embrace my obsession with pumpkin flavored treats! Yes, I am absolutely one of those girls who goes crazy for pumpkin spice lattes every year. When the weather turns chilly and the leaves turn golden I turn into a pumpkin fiend! = )

In honor of fall, I decided to bake some pumpkin spice cupcakes and top them with cinnamon frosting. They are so delicious; the perfect treat for dessert while popping in a scary movie (another one of my fall obsessions)! I’ve shared my recipe below and I hope you will try these delicious cupcakes yourself!

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 3

PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON FROSTING

(Makes One Dozen)

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 1/2 can Pumpkin

Directions:

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice (all dry ingredients except the sugar).

2. In a separate, large bowl mix the sugar and eggs. Add oil and mix at medium speed for a few minutes.

3. Combine flour mixture with eggs and sugar. Then add pumpkin. Mix at medium speed until well blended.

4. Spoon into lined cupcake tin and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 1

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon

Icing Directions:

1. Let the stick of butter soften outside of the fridge, but do not allow it to melt. I took mine out when I put the cupcakes in to bake and allowed it to sit  while they baked and cooled.

2. Beat the butter and vanilla on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is creamy.

3. Sift the powdered sugar, add to mixture one cup at a time, and beat.

4. Add heavy cream and beat.

5. Add cinnamon and beat once more.

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 2

 

I also used molds to create toppings for the cupcakes. I melted dark chocolate chips with cinnamon and placed them in the fridge.

A few notes: you do not have to sift the powdered sugar, but it usually leads to a better consistency. Also, if you do not have pumpkin pie spice you can simply use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. I like to add the extra cinnamon and nutmeg to make it more “spicy”.

Enjoy!

XO

Restaurant Spotlight: Spoon by H

Restaurant Spotlight Spoon by H

{SPOON BY H 7158 BEVERLY BLVD LOS ANGELES, CA 90036}

 

EAT: Though the menu is limited, there are several delicious choices. My personal favorite is the caprese sandwich, containing not only the usual fresh mozzarella, tomato, balsamic vinegar, and basil but also iceberg lettuce and pesto. It’s delicious, fresh, and has a low price point. The pastries are always different and are homemade. There’s always something yummy! Another great choice is the berryberry waffle, perfect for a breakfast paired with some coffee or tea.

 

DRINK: My favorite part of Spoon is their superior selection of tea. They have various flavored teas from black to green, sweetened or unsweetened. I haven’t been disappointed by any of their drinks yet, but I highly recommend my two favorites: the tropical green tea and the berry roobios tea- seriously delicious!

 

EXPERIENCE: With consistently superior service, Spoon provides a friendly atmosphere for guests and creates a large group of customers who regularly return. There isn’t much of an atmosphere, it’s really just a small cafe with mismatched tables and a glass case displaying their daily fresh-baked pastries. One of the best parts of this lovely cafe is that they give free samples almost every time you visit. Sometimes it may be a small sample of tea, other times a pastry, but it’s always delicious!

 

 

Restaurant Spotlight: El Carmen

El Carmen

EAT: You can’t go wrong with the taco selection at El Carmen. The carne asada tacos have a fantastic flavor and the meat is cooked to tender perfection. They’re not too fussy, which I love about them. The fish tacos are also a great choice! During their happy hour, the guacamole is only $2. Let me just say, it’s worth much more than that! I’m a fan of pretty much any guacamole but this is a great one. Last, but certainly not least by any means, make sure you get the corn on the cob as a side. It’s far from being healthy, since its completely coated in spices and cotija cheese, but it’s grilled to perfection and so delicious!

DRINK: El Carmen is known for its tequila, so you obviously have to get a margarita! The good news is that these margs actually have tequila in them, and you don’t find yourself wondering if they forgot to put it in. That’s my pet peeve with some restaurants. The regular margarita is $5 during happy hour and there’s tons of others to choose from including a spicy margarita and a cucumber mint margarita.

EXPERIENCE: The atmosphere is one of the greatest parts of El Carmen. After walking through the thick, red velvet curtains you feel excluded from the outside world. The lighting casts a red tint on the room and the Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestler) artwork throughout, it has a fun and unique vibe. It’s a small place, but definitely a good one to visit!

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

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Before my sister’s beautiful wedding last month, I attended a bridal shower with all of the bridesmaids, flower girls, and a few other female family members. It was a fun morning with light and fresh food including savory cheesecake bites, a strawberry salsa, and meringues.  There were two tables, both set with simple and elegant decor and pretty gifts for each of the guests.

I was a little worried when our main course arrived and I saw that it included a chilled cantaloupe soup. I wasn’t sure if it was something that I was going to like, but as soon as I took the first bite I realized I was very wrong; it was delicious! It’s a perfect summertime food and it paired amazingly with our salads. I thought that I would share with you the recipe that my mom (the hostess) used.

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Chilled Cantaloupe Soup with Tarragon Syrup {via Martha Stewart}

(serves 6)

 

1 large ripe cantaloupe (about 4 pounds), seeds and rind removed, cut into chunks, plus thin wedges for garnish

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch of coarse salt

3/4 cup sugar

4 sprigs tarragon

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Make the soup: Working in 2 batches, puree cantaloupe, sour cream, honey, lemon juice, and salt in a blender until smooth. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  2. Make the syrup: Bring sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until syrup has reduced to 2/3 cup, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add tarragon. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate until cold, 1 hour.
  3. Puree syrup, tarragon, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use; stir just before serving.
  4. Divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with tarragon syrup; garnish with cantaloupe wedges and tarragon sprigs.

 

Enjoy!

 

XO