Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tasty Lemon Muffins

A dear friend of mine, gave me these amazing lemons from one of her trees. I knew I had to make something with them so I researched a little online. I looked for lemon muffins and lemon cupcakes. Most recipes I came across had bad reviews so I went to my old trusty
Of course there was a lemon-poppy seed muffin recipe that received a 5 star rating. :)
I tried it out tonight and I must say that it produced a yummy treat. Let me be upfront though and tell you that it will require a bit of work, including whisking egg whites into soft peaks and zesting fives lemons. I think next time I bake these lemon goodies, I will double the recipe to really make it worth while.  Enjoy!
P.S. I didn't have poppy seeds in the house so I omitted them. 
Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffin Recipe
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace

For those of you who don't know, I have a lot of family in the Bay Area. This year we celebrated Easter up there instead of in San Diego. We didn't do the typical champagne brunch. Instead, we played tourists in a very familiar city. We took the ferry across the bay to the SF Ferry Building Marketplace.
Our first stop was at Sur La Table. They have tons and tons of cookie cutters for only $1. I had my husband digging for anchors and dinosaurs. Check and check. :-)  In addition to cookie cutters, they have a huge selection of specialty kitchen supplies and great gifts. My personal fave was the pair of black and leopard dish washing gloves.

Then the eating began! We walked through the marketplace and tried just about everything that was being sampled and sold. Right outside of Sur La Table was a kiosk, El Porteno Empanadas. My hub, Shaun picked the prosciutto & fontina cheese one. Good choice! Best empanada we've ever had. Warm, gooey inside, flaky buttery outside.

Stonehouse California Olive Oil
After that we sampled oils and vinegars at Stonehouse California Olive Oil. Try the white balsamic vinegar. 

We tried the dark chocolate at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and purchased a milk chocolate with sea salted almonds. Best. Chocolate. Ever. 

Famous Blue Bottle Iced Coffee

I'm an avid Food Network viewer and love the show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. There was an episode about beverages and Blue Bottle Coffee was featured. There is a Blue Bottle Coffee located in the marketplace. Lucky me! I ordered an iced coffee, and it was the best cup of joe I've ever had.  Really.

Julio and his big baguette

While I was waiting for my coffee, my nephew bought a 3 foot baguette from Acme Bread Company that he played with and ate for the entire day. It was delicious and entertaining.  

This place has been featured on Food Network.

Next time I'm going to have to stop at Boccalone Salumeria, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop & Sidekick, and Ciao Bella gelateria. I can't wait to come back here!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yummiest Apple Muffin Recipe

I'm always looking for ways to use up the fruit that I buy in bulk. This recipe is one way to do that with apples. These muffins are great to make for brunch or dessert or to bring to a new mommy. I've made these several times, perfecting them. I have a few notes to add to the original author's recipe.
  • Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg to your apples after you dice them.
  • Also, when I fill my muffin tray, I use my 3 tablespoon ice cream scooper. It makes portioning so much easier.
  • Add a 1/8 cup of oats to the flour, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar topping.
  • Use paper liners, do not just grease your muffin pans. These muffins don't like to come out in one piece.
  • If using dark or non stick muffin pans, lower the temperature of your over to 350. No matter what pan you use, start checking as for whether it's done at 20 minutes.
    • Oh and P.S., if you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add 1 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Cupcake Bites

    Thank you for the inspiration for cupcake bites. They turned out so good. My niece told me the bites were the best dessert she's ever put in her mouth. One of my husband's coworkers told me that for her last meal, she would want to eat cupcake bites. I'm telling you, these little guys are a hit.
    Below is a slightly modified version of Bakerella's recipe.

    Easy Cupcake Bites
    1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
    1 can frosting (16 oz.)
    2 packages of candy melts, I used white and milk chocolate.
    Candy Mold
    Sprinkles for decoration

    Click here to check out the directions for Bakerella's cupcake bites.
    Here's what they look like when you push the cake into the candy mold.

    I made two different sizes using two different candy molds.

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Sunday Morning Pancakes

    It's Sunday which means pancakes in this house. Martha's pancake recipe is simple and delicious and your family will eat it up.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Here's what you need for Easter.

    Look what I found for your Easter baskets! They are super impressive in size and the price is right. Thank you Costco!   *available at the Moreno Blvd. location
    Easter bunnies $12.99

    Easter eggs $19.99
    These are great for all special occasions, chocolate champagne bottles. $12.99

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Perfect Spring and Summer Tennis Shoes for the Little Ones

    Look what I found and purchased at Costco today, Superga! Cute and Italian, just like my baby. They are canvas and come in white, pink and navy. Even though I liked the white, I know that my two and half year old boy will get them dirty quickly, so he got the navy ones. They come in sizes 6.5 through a 3. If you were to purchase them from, you would pay $45 plus shipping. However, at Costco you can purchase them for $19.99.  Too Good To Pass Up!
    Available at the Costco on Moreno Blvd. 

    Product Description (Children's Superga 2750 J CLASSIC)

    As far as toddler and kids sneakers go, the Superga 2750 J CLASSIC ranks as one of Italy's iconic children's shoes. Now stateside, these unlined, lace-up canvas sneakers for boys and girls and are perfect for the playground. And with colors like white and navy, they are ideal for school uniforms. 2750 sneakers are made with fully breathable, 100% pure cotton, plus Superga's trademark vulcanized rubber outsole, so they'll keep up with your kids' activities, even if you can't! This sneaker also comes in a kids strap style, as well as in sizes for men and women--classic canvas shoes for the whole family. Care information: Machine washable in cold water and mild detergent in gentle cycle. Air dry only. Please note softening and fraying can occur--just like your favorite jeans."

    True to Size

    The above product description was taken from 

    Three nights in Vegas for only $182.76

    Wondering how I got such a good deal????  There are a couple of weeks this summer when the rates at Mandalay Bay are as low at $70 a night. I was tipped off to those low rates and jumped on the chance to stay at one of our favorite family friendly hotels. If I had booked through the hotel, the total price including taxes and resort fees would be $242.76.
    I saved $60 by doing the following. My mecca, Costco, sells $100 gift cards to for only $80. I bought two of those. Then, I googled promo codes. VEGAS20 will give a $20 discount if you spend $200. After entering the two gift cards and promo code, the total amount spent was $182.76. Neat, huh?

    Available at the Moreno location and online.   http;//

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Quick Review: Red Tracton's in Del Mar
    Red Tracton's is located on Via De La Valle right across from the Del Mar racetrack.  The atmosphere is classic steakhouse: black leather booths, dim lighting, and female servers. The service is friendly and the food, delicious. Order the chicken wings with the sauce on the side.  As a chicken wing afficionado I can say these are a delight.  Where can you go to get actual lobster in the lobster bisque? Try this place. It has chunks of lobster meat in it and it comes with a shot of sherry you add to it, YUM! The catch of the day was swordfish, and I've never seen a swordfish steak so thick.  It was well-seasoned and moist.  The prime rib was a thick cut, cooked perfectly to melt in your mouth, with a red velvet cake to top off the evening. There is actual chocolate in between the layers, not just icing. Sooooo good. And, if you like to drink, this place is definitely for you. They pour quite the generous glass of wine. Thank you Red Tracton's. I'll be back to see you where the turf meets the surf on race day.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Trees at Costco!

    lime trees $17.89
    The Mission Valley Costco has assorted citrus and avocado trees!  For sure we're getting a lime tree for our backyard.
    orange trees $17.89

     avocado trees $16.99

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Paula Deen's Gorilla Bread

    If you love cinnamon rolls, you're going to love this recipe. Aside from Gorilla Bread being delicious, it's fast. While cinnamon rolls are tasty too, they take forever to make. You have to wait for the dough to rest and double in size. Because this recipe is made with refrigerator biscuits, there is no waiting. Hallelujah! This bread bakes up sweet and soft but a little crunchy from the sugar and butter....mmmmm..... SO GOOD.

    It's a pull apart bread.

     Click here to check out the recipe.

     On a side note, Studio Cafe at the Las Vegas MGM Grand makes a fantastic version of Gorilla Bread, called Monkey Bread. Order it next time you're there.

    Katie's Three Bean Salad

    The Great Chef Katie

    This recipe is easy, the flavors are bright and fresh, and it's perfect for taking to a bbq or to keep on hand in your refrigerator for snacking. My friend's daughter, Katie is the one who assembled this for me the first time I had it. So, I had no other choice but to name it after the Great Chef Katie.

    • One 15 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, black beans, white beans, and kidney beans
    • Two 15 ounce cans of corn
    • One bunch of cilantro chopped
    • One jalapeno diced
    • Juice from 6-8 limes depending on size
    To assemble these ingredients, drain and rinse everything but the tomatoes. Add the remaining items and it's ready to eat.
    You could also add avocado or onions.

    Serve with tortilla chips or for a healthier snack try it with slices of cucumber.