Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Havaianas Flip Flops at Costco $18.99

These are my favorite rubber flip flops. Super comfy and have a little bit of bling. Normally the price is closer to $30 or $40 but they are at Costco for only $18.99. They were sold there last year too but this year there are more colors being offered. Perfect for summer!

I went on http://us.havaianas.com/ and found that you can create your own custom flip flops. Prices vary depending on what you add to your sandals. Pretty cool though.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Spa Under the Stars at La Costa Resort and Spa

Poolside Dining

Take advantage of The Spa Under the Stars special! It is available Thursdays from 3-8pm. Admission is discounted to $45 and 50 minute treatments are only $125.
They also have a special menu for the event. We ordered the Pacific shrimp cocktail, the cheese platter, and the vegetable Thai wraps. Everything was incredibly flavorful and will be ordered again when we go back in July.
We can't get enough of this spa. There are many many amenities and the service is phenomenal. They really do a thorough job of pampering their guests. Being able to visit here several times a year is living The Good Life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Best Oatmeal Cookies

What do I make for a friend who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies or frosting on her cake???? I know... I don't understand her either. But, I do love to bake what my friends love so I make her oatmeal cookies without raisins. I've tried a few different recipes and I found one on allrecipes.com that I like best. Click here for the recipe I used as a reference.
Have you ever noticed that every recipe calls for long cooking oats or old fashioned oats? I'm a huge fan of using whatever you have in your cupboards. Years ago, I wanted to make oatmeal cookies but only had the packages of maple, brown sugar, and apple cinnamon instant oatmeal on hand. I used those instead and was very happy with the flavor and overall outcome. I hope you enjoy these as much as my finicky dessert friend and I do.  :-)

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups instant flavored oatmeal

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Combine in a separate bowl the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the oatmeal.
The original recipe says to drop teaspoon size cookies and bake for 10-12 minutes. You could do that.  I prefer to use my 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop to make uniform jumbo cookies and bake for about 14 minutes. Make sure to check them around 12 and maybe rotate your cookie sheets.
Let them cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes before you transfer them to a rack. If you try to lift them too soon from the sheet, the bottom of the cookie will stick. That's no good so just be patient and wait.

**If you like raisins or dried cranberries, you can add 1 cup to the recipe but you should soak them in the beaten eggs and vanilla for up to an hour in the refrigerator. Add them after you've combined the dry ingredients and the butter mixture.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I absolutely love making these. It was rewarding to hear that they were "the best" at a party today. They're easy to make, look great, and taste even better. These are perfect to bring to someone's home and are wonderful to enjoy in a cup of coffee, milk, or glass of wine. Really, dunk these in your vino.

1.5 sticks of butter softened
3 cups of flour
1.25 cup of sugar
6 eggs
3 tbsp of baking powder
3 cups of chocolate chips
1.5 tsp anise extract

Preheat oven to 375. Cream the butter and  sugar. Beat the eggs and add the anise. Combine flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips. Make sure you line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or use silpat liners. Divide the dough into three inch wide logs the length of your cookie sheet. If your dough seems wet, it's ok and will bake just fine. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Let them cool then slice the log on a bias into 1 inch pieces. Lay the biscottis on their sides and put them back in the oven for approximately 6 minutes then turn them over and "toast" the other side.
Once they have cooled you can either frost with a powdered sugar, anise extract, water glaze or your can dunk them in melted chocolate. From the picture, you can see what I prefer.
Click here to see what site I referenced for this recipe.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Doctored Up Chocolate Box Cake and Chocolate Lover's Frosting

Happy birthday to my mother in law, Fran! To celebrate, my family came over tonight for dinner and cake.
The cake was chocolate and from a box, but I doctored it up. I followed the recipe but used 1 cup of egg whites instead of three eggs and added two packages of ready to eat chocolate pudding. Because it is so moist, it fell apart when I turned it over to trim off the rounded top. To repair it I "glued" it together with frosting.
Now, let's get to that frosting recipe. It's called Chocolate Lover's Frosting. And, it's from the back of the Nestle Toll House cocoa powder can. You can find it online here.
The frosting is pretty sweet so if that's not your preference, hold back on the sugar and taste as you go.
The white rose was made with white chocolate in a candy mold.
I cheated big time on the filling. I bought a container of Bavarian cream from Do It With Icing. (Have you seen a recipe for Bavarian cream? It has several steps and requires several ingredients.) On a side note, this little cake and candy making store has other fillings too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I still call it the Del Mar Fair.

Look what I saw at Costco today! For about $54 you get 4 adult admissions, 4 drink tickets (but you have to purchase food upon redemption), 50 ride tickets, and 1 parking pass. The admission tickets and parking pass would normally cost $62. That's a sweet deal!
I went on http://www.sdfair.com to check the prices just to make sure this is a too good to pass up deal and it is. I also found some other great promos and ways to save.
  • You can park at the polo fields for free and take a shuttle. 
  • Tuesday, June 14, 2011 admission is $3 and since it's a Tuesday, kids are free anyway. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance at Alberston's. They will not be sold at the fairgrounds. Click here to go straight to the promotions and discounts page on the fair's website. 
  • Lastly worth mentioning, if you attend the fair two or more times, it might be worth your while to buy the season pass for $22. Click here for more info on the season pass.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Downstairs Cafe at Merriman's in Kauai

Shaun and I were strolling around Kukui'ula Village Mall looking for a place to stop and have lunch. We came across the Downstairs Cafe, checked out the menu, and decided to give it a try. I ordered the Crispy Avocado Tacos. In the tacos are fried avocado, pico de gallo, shaved cabbage, more avocado, and tomatillo crema. Let me just say that I wish I had eaten here on the first day of our vacation so I could have come back a couple more times. And the price was right, only $11. Sweet! We also shared hummus which I recommend ordering. It was really flavorful and fresh tasting.

Shaun ordered an equally delicious lunch, a two item mixed plate. It came with teriyaki marlin and pork with sides of mac salad and rice. I tried it fell in love with the marlin.
Shaun's mixed item plate.

In addition to the food being great, the service was fantastic and the outside seating was perfect. From where we were, we could see the ocean and watch all the passers by in the shopping center.
If you're on the south side of Kauai, stop in for lunch at the Downstairs Cafe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tropical Taco in Hanalei

Look for the little green bus signage.
While Shaun and I were wine tasting last month in Sonoma, we met a really lovely family there who had just returned from a week in Kauai. We told them that we were going to be heading to Kauai in just a couple of weeks and asked for suggestions. They told us where to golf, where to get surfing lessons, and where to eat. They said we had to try Tropical Taco in Hanalei.

Ke'e Beach, aka PARADISE! It's about 11 minutes from Tropical Taco.

After a full day at Ke'e Beach on the North Shore, we stopped in at Tropical Taco for quite a lunch. I guess I was expecting a couple of tiny tacos. Oh no. I ordered a fish taco and it was enormous and the flavor matched its size. It was filled with beans, cabbage, cheese, sour cream, and the yummiest battered and fried piece of locally caught fish.
It's not lacking cheese. :)

Sweet Baby
Also, I really liked the restaurant. If you choose to sit inside, you still get that outside feeling because the room is so open or you can sit on the porch and watch the traffic. Either way, you get to enjoy the weather and not get wet (it will rain) and have a memorable lunch.
Tropical Taco's Website
Tropical Taco's Menu

Shaun's dessert from the market next to Tropical Tacos