Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Sugar Cookies

If you eat too many cookies in one sitting, like I did, this is what you might look like.  

Hehe, j/k.  This is one of the pumpkins we carved this weekend when we invited Susan's adorable nieces and nephews over to our place for our first housewarming.  They had previously visited once while we were still moving and settling in and our place was a mess so there wasn't much for them to do.  Even our attempts to bribe them with pizza were foiled when we walked over to Piece only to find that the wait would be over 45 mins that night.  This was our chance to redeem ourselves and let's face it, our reputations were at stake here.  I had to wow and dazzle them and subconsciously plant in their heads that Susan and Soomeenshee emo are really cool.  Let me tell you, it ain't easy trying to impress, let alone keep the attention span of three kids under the age of 7.  To aid us in our attempts, Susan and I bought three pumpkins for them to carve and we baked a bunch of sugar cookies for them to decorate.

In preparation for the big day, I asked a few friends for their go to recipes for sugar cookies and they gave me two recommendations.  One is Alton Brown's recipe and the other is from  Being the nutcase that I am, I made a batch of each.  In my defense, I didn't think one batch would be enough for 3 kids and 3 adults and two batches ended up being the perfect amount of cookies for us to decorate and eat in the end.  They are both great recipes, but there are notable differences that are good to know for future use. 

If I'm making straight up, unfrosted sugar cookies to eat, I'd go with the recipe because it puffs up into a cloud of soft goodnesss and has a nice vanilla flavor to it.  However, if you're looking to cut out shapes and decorate them with frosting, Alton Brown's recipe is pretty darn fantastic.  Alton Brown's cookies hold their shape well.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cafe Chloe's Vanilla and Prune Scones

This post is way overdue.  I made these for my friend Yeena's baby shower a few month ago.  Needless to say, Yeena had her baby three weeks ago.  lol.  But fear not, in case you are in the mood to make some scones, here is a great recipe.  I recently also saw a recipe in the NY Times for the classic scone.  One of these days I shall try it for myself.  

I've been ambivalent about prunes, I'm neither offended nor enticed, but ever since my foray into Chicken Marbella, I've been intrigued by our wrinkly friends.  I've been saving this recipe for some time, but was weary about bringing a dish that has the word prune in it to a baby shower.  I had fears that everyone's dish would be devoured except for my plate of scones.  I even decided to rename it, vanilla and "dried plum" scones, hoping it would do the trick.  Lucky for me, it worked and my scones got some love.  If you are for some reason diametrically opposed to prunes, you can replace them with any dried fruit.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast

I was rummaging through my fridge and cupboard trying to come up with something to make for breakfast one weekend and vaguely remembered an episode on the Food Network for Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast from Cafe 222 in San Diego.  When I lived in San Diego, we would walk by Cafe 222 all the time but I never ate there before.  Apparently Bobby Flay loves their french toast so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I happened to have some Nutella in the cupboard so I was curious how Nutella would go with Peanut Butter and Bananas.  I ended up doing a sampling of all three flavor combinations and made three different types of french toast: one with just Nutella and bananas, another one with peanut butter and bananas and the last one with all three.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Huckleberry Cafe - Santa Monica, CA

I've been meaning to check out Huckleberry Cafe for awhile, so when I went home to LA last month and my friends wanted to meet up for brunch, I figured it would be the perfect place to meet.  

Huckleberry Bakery and Café is owned and operated by husband and wife team Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb. Zoe learned to bake at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, which is one of my favorites.  Josh opened Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in December of 2006, which is where they both met and eventually fell in love.  They wanted to open up a local artisan bakery and cafe where friends, family and enthusiastic food lovers could come together to eat delicious homemade bread, pastries and savory food in a warm casual atmosphere.  

Huckleberry Cafe is definitely warm and inviting and if the lines out the door are any indication, I think they have succeeded.   Inside, their spread of sweet and savory foods is quite broad and expansive.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach, as always.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Bread

I don't know about you, but my bananas often ripen faster than I can consume them.  One trick that I've learned is to toss ripe bananas (unpeeled) as is, into your freezer.  A frozen banana looks like the one to the right.  

I've discovered that frozen bananas are great in smoothies or in this banana bread.  My roommate introduced me to this recipe and it's the bomb diggity, as my cousin Jung would say.  When you are ready to use these bananas for the bread, you don't need to defrost them for that long.  Just take them out for a few minutes before using, wait till it gets a little soft, run your knife down one of the sides and peel it off.  My roommate recently peeled it using the vegetable peeler and she said it worked great too.  Toss the semi-frozen banana into a bowl, mush it up with your fork and you have ripe bananas ready for your recipe.  I like freezing it in the peel because the fruit itself seems to retain a nice yellow color and it's so much easier to toss the whole thing into the freezer without having to wrap it in saran wrap.  Now for the  recipe!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

iCream - Chicago, IL

After dinner, we had plans to go see Inception.  But before we rushed off to the movie, we stopped by iCream for some dessert.  I first heard about iCream from my friend Will who told me that he saw the show on the Food Network show, Chef vs. City in Chicago.  I looked up the address and realized it was really close by and I have been meaning to try it out, but never got around to it ... until now.  
It's hard to see the storefront because it's sunken in, but be on the look out for this little banner on Milwaukee Avenue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sono Wood Fired - Chicago, IL

Yeena, Caroline and I made plans to have dinner at the newly opened Sono Wood-Fired near North and Clybourn.  It was touted as a new pizza date spot in Lincoln Park.  It sounded like an equally suitable place to share a meal with old friends.  Taking a cue from its name, you will soon realize that their specialty is wood and coal fired pizzas, which they bake in a special oven that they imported from Italy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Margie's Candies - Chicago, IL

Mary and I got to meet up one last time and went to Great Seas again.  She mentioned that she went to a cute little ice cream parlor in Bucktown.  I recently moved closer to Bucktown so I was intrigued to find a neighborhood ice cream place.  We decided to meet up with some of our friends there for dessert.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forever Yogurt - Chicago, IL

So are y'all all keeping track?  This is dessert number 3 for Mary and me.  Oh my goodness, I did not think it was humanely possible, but then again, I was warned that we would have a lot of time to kill and that we should save room for lots of desserts.   After dessert number 2 at Cloud 9, our friend Faith finally joined us and she hadn't eaten yet.  It was a bit too late to grab real food, but she said she wanted to eat froyo, so off we went to Bucktown to go check out the new self-serve frozen yogurt place called Forever Yogurt.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cloud 9 - Chicago, IL

What is Taiwanese Snow Ice doing in Lakeview, you ask?  I have no clue either, but I'm not complaining.  We spoke to the owners and they said it's their first outpost outside of Taiwan and I can totally see this being the next boba, the next tart yogurt trend to hit LA.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mario's Italian Lemonade - Chicago, IL

Right across the street from Al's No. 1 Italian Beef is Mario's Italian Lemonade.  I've heard good things about it and it's only open during the summers, so you definitely have to take advantage while you can.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Al's No. 1 Italian Beef - Chicago, IL

My dear friend Mary was in town last month and she emailed me weeks before and asked where we should go eat.  A woman after my own heart.  :)  She gets a kick out of getting mentioned on my blog, so she wanted to make sure we went somewhere that I hadn't been and could blog about.

I told her how Jung came to visit a few weeks back and how he loved Italian Beef sandwiches.  Mary never had one before so we thought we'd try Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy.  It's been on Food Wars and Man v. Food and is often pitted against Mr. Beef for the title of Chicago's best italian beef sandwiches, so I thought it warranted a visit.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

Cheese, salami and crackers.  check!      
Roasted chicken and gravy.  check!
Summer Corn Sauté.  check!   
Bottle of wine.  check!
Ice cream sandwiches made from smores cookies (courtesy of my friend Mary).  check!  

The only thing missing was potatoes.  I wanted something quick and easy, yet tasty.  I tried looking up some recipes and ended up at one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Summer Corn Sauté with Basil

I don't know why but whenever I have roasted chicken, I feel like I need corn.  Creamed, steamed, buttered or grilled, I don't mind, just so long as there's corn involved.  I saw a recipe for this in Bon Appetit where they use a bunch of fresh herbs.  I only had fresh basil on hand, so I just used that and it turned out great.  It's hard to mess up when corn is in season and you have fresh herbs on hand.