10 June, 2010

shop: staple summer outfit

I am a reasonably simple person when it comes to my style. I like girlie touches to my outfits, but nothing to frou frou. These items are staples in my wardrobe and often I wear something that resembles this complete outfit.

elizabeth and james sharp shoulder james blazer $395

twelfth street by cynthia vincent lace back cascade tank $215

current/elliot the boyfriend shorts $163 (or cheaper version at Urban Outfitters)

jeffrey campbell so smart wedge $98

alexander wang diego bucket bag $825

27 May, 2010

eat: dessert edition: cookie monster's favorite

In the heart of Westwood near UCLA there lays a shop that is always filled with people and has a line pouring out of it and down the street. Diddy Riese is a well known cookie shop that college students love because you can buy 3 cookies for $1 or get an ice cream sandwich for $1.50. The cookies are always fresh and have that right out the oven taste to them. They have so many options to choose from that one has to get 3 just to have a taste of them all.

The ice cream sandwich is my favorite because you get to choose the two cookies and the ice cream that goes inside. I tend to go for a chocolate chip, snicker doodle and mint chip ice cream. Yum! The sandwich is one of the best I have ever had. Because the cookies are warm it melts the ice cream a little and it is the perfect amount of ooey gooey yumminess.

If you live in LA and have never been, you must go! If you come to visit LA, mark this down as a place you must visit. I promise it is worth it. Don't get frightened by the line either; it usually moves pretty quick.

24 May, 2010

bake: hot fudge sundae cupcakes

I had a dinner party over the weekend and of course I had to bake something fun and so I chose to bake hot fudge sundae cupcakes. It was my first time making them and I got the idea here. They turned out to be so yummy and needless to say my friends devoured them.

A couple of things I noticed though:
*Veer to the underbaking them side. Do not over bake them because they will be dry.
* I will add a 1/4 cup heavy cream next time to get them a little more moist.
* Do not over mix the batter. Very important.
* When the ganache has set and hardened, they are quite tasty.

Other than that have so much fun!

hot fudge sundae cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

a scant 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)

1/4 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Pour cream evenly over chocolate. Let stand for one minute to soften, then stir until smooth. If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, frosting will continue to thicken as it stands.

Top vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache, slightly sweetened whipped cream, slivered almonds and a cherry.

Serve immediately.

21 May, 2010

Shop: Polka Dots and Spots

Polka dots are a perfect addition to any summer outfit. I personally am not a fan of busy patterns so when things like polka dots are in for the season I get excited because they are simple yet provide enough flare for my solid attire. These polka dot choices are just a couple selections for a spicy incorporation to any wardrobe.

Clutch- French Connection

Jean Shorts- Topshop

Straw Hat - Miss Selfridge

Silk bra & briefs- Marni

Spotted Sandals- See by Chloe

Blazer- H! by Henry Holland

Denim Polka Dot Platforms- Robert Clergerie

20 May, 2010

Eat: Quest for the Best Burger in LA

Yesterday I decided that I wanted to embark on a quest to find the best burger in Los Angeles. I am a total burger girl and while I'd love to and have been a vegetarian I just crave burgers. The funny and ironic thing is is that one of my daily blog reads (Eaterla.com) posted that it is national burger month and there is a poll on facebook for the best burger in LA. Well, I am gonna visit some of these places and test them out for myself and let you all know my personal experience with them.

Last night I went to the first contender: The Counter.

I had been there once before with my boyfriend and only had the sliders (we were on our way to dinner and were so hungry that we couldn't wait). I think it is quite easy to make a good slider; they are small and compact so all the juices and flavors are kept in. Now to make a great burger, in my opinion, is a lot harder. The cool thing about The Counter is that you get to build your own burger from top to bottom.

They have tons of options to choose from, which I appreciate cause I am a picky eater. They also have sweet potato fries; my favorite! Anyhow, our burgers came and after I took some photos I dove in. I was a bit disappointed. The grilled onions were soggy and the meat was dry. The bun tasted like it was a couple of days old and the dressing was a bit flavorless. I was surprised because the sliders I had before were great and I hoped the burger would be the same.

The fries were delicious and cooked just right, but seeing as I am searching for the best burger they aren't a part of my decision. I do have to say though that in order to truly appreciate a burger, I need to have perfectly cooked and seasoned fries.

I was a bit disappointed, but it wasn't a completely awful burger. It just wasn't great. I definitely wouldn't put it in my top 3 best burgers and so The Counter is out.

19 May, 2010

Bake: Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake

Let me just preface this whole adventure with I am not a big chocolate fan. I enjoy some chocolate here and there and of course I'd never say no to the offer, but it is never my first choice. So, for the past week I have been taking a poll on what I should bake next and one of my daily blog reads posted this on her blog. It'd looked so good I thought I'd try it and then my boyfriend insisted I make this chocolate heaven. And so late last night (since I haven't posted all week) I decided to gather up my energy and set out to make my first bundt cake. Let's just say it did not turn out very pretty, but it tastes so darn yummy. I'm gonna make the excuse for it's lack of beauty that 1. it was late and 2. I'm not a chocolate fan. Also, just note to all those non-professional bakers out there: let the bundt cake cool completely before removing it from the pan. The cake will stick to the pan if not completely cooled and the you will have a Frankencake like me. Most of all, have fun!

It makes a 10-inch bundt cake

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee

3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 whole eggs

1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

For the Glaze:

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.

To make the cake batter: Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. The batter will be very loose. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing: Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler), and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water. Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Melt the butter in a separate pan or in the microwave. Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated. Sift in half of the powdered sugar. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. The glaze should be thick and shiny. Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.

13 May, 2010

shop: summer sandals

If you are anything like me then you have to have all sorts of sandal options to pair with your spring/summer wardrobe. They must range from simple and dainty to bulky and complex. Sandals are the one item in my closet that I must have a wide color variety of. I want to have a pair for all my different skirts and dresses, but also I feel that shoes are a way to lighten up my dark color palette. This seasons selection of sandals are hardly simple and I am loving it. I tend to veer towards big and gaudy when it comes to my shoes. These sandals below are on my "to get" list and I will be checking them off one pair at a time.

Rag + Bone Farringdon Sandal $298

Rag + Bone Farringdon II Sandal $235

Matt Benson The Sherpa Buttermilk $168

Promised Strappy Sandal $132

Sophie Sandal $98

Just wondering... when did sandals get to be so darn expensive. I don't consider myself to be cheap when it comes to shoes, but geese. It's crazy what people pay to be fabulous. I am one of them though.