Monday, February 28, 2011

Venice Beach

Oh, Venice Beach....what can I say about this place that has not
already been said? It's wild and full of life. If there is one beach
that is highly entertaining and offers so much to do, it's this

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grape Tarts

Having a dinner party or a few friends over? I have an easy no fuss
recipe that will impress without breaking a sweat! I adore warm
grapes and puff pastry! You can serve this with a dollop of fresh
whip cream. Enjoy!

Grape Tarts
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 cups grapes, red, green or both
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface,
unfold pastry. Cut into 4 squares. Transfer to a rimless baking sheet.
Using the tip of a paring knife, score a 1/2 inch border around edges
of each square, being careful not to cut all the way through pastry.
Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
2) Whisk together egg yolk and cream, set egg wash aside. Toss
together grapes, granulated sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Divide
grape mixture among tart shells, keeping it inside the borders. Brush
edges of tarts with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake
until pastry is crisp and golden and grapes are just beginning to collapse
23 to 27 minutes. Let cool on sheet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Root Beer Pulled Pork

My mouth is instantly watering as I write this post and drool
over the picture. I love good pulled pork and it was not until
I made this that I had great pulled pork. It's smoky and sweet.
Root Beer has always been a favorite soda of mine. For a special
treat..... make a Root Beer float to go along with this meal.

Root Beer Pulled Pork

2 to 3 pounds pork loin or roast
2 cans of root beer
1 onion sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon root beer extract
1/2 cup good quality BBQ sauce
salt and pepper
dash of garlic powder
potato rolls

Place pork, onion, garlic and spices in stock pot pour root beer & extract
all over. Cook on low on stove top for 4 to 5 hours until meat falls apart.
Drain the liquid and stir in the BBQ sauce. Serve with broccoli
slaw and potato rolls. Enjoy!
"Note, this could also be done in a slow cooker. I do not own one. YIKES.
I might have to stop by Williams Sonoma and get one.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apple Crisp Cups

Don't you just love bites of "goodness"??? These are perfect for
your morning cup of coffee or tea. A perfect little treat.

Apple Crisp Cups
3 large McIntosh appled - peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups butter

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4, 12-cup mini muffin tins.
2) Mix apples, white sugar, water , and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
together in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low
heat, stirring occasionally for 6 to 7 min, remove from heat.
3) Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and
nutmeg in a large bowl, cut the butter into the flour mixture with
a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Place a
heaping tablespoon of the crust mixture into a mini muffin cup, and
press it into the cup so that it covers the bottom and pushes up the
sides of cup. Make the crust go all the way up to the top of the mini
muffin cup, and patch holes with more mixture. There will be crust
mixture left over. Place about 2 teaspoons of apple filling in the
crust. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the remaining crust mixture
over the filling.
4) Bake in preheated oven or until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day!! In the spirit of LOVE and all the sweet
sentiments that go along with this day....I'm having a wonderful
Giveaway to show my love for you all!!

If there is one store that I dream about being locked in, it has to
be Anthropologie....oh the bowls, jewelry, shirts, bedding, and I
could go on and on.

You can enter twice and all you have to do to win is.........

1) Follow my blog
2) Follow me on Twitter and Tweet about it @ValSoCal4

A winner will be picked one week from today by
Good Luck.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Champagne Risotto

This might be the best tasting dish I have ever tasted in my life.
I'm a carb this is stuff dreams are made of, creamy, salty
and down right divine!! Also, this is a perfect Valentine's Day for
your loved one. I made sure I cooked this early so you all could
make it....hint, hint!!!

Champagne Risotto - Giada

4 slices of prosciutto
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
12 asparagus spears,cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup Aborio rice
3/4 cup champagne
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place prosciutto on a slightly greased cookie sheet and cook
6 to 8 min until crisp. Reserve for garnish.

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat
to a simmer. Blanch the asparagus in the chicken stock for 2 min.
Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon. Set the asparagus aside
and keep the chicken stock on a slow simmer.
In another medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the
shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Aborio rice
and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring
constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the champagne and simmer
until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add half a
cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed,
about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at
a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to
absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm
to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.
Remove from the heat. Gently stir in the asparagus, remaining butter,
Parmesan, salt and pepper. Spoon risotto into serving dishes and
garnish by breaking crisp prosciutto into smaller pieces over the top
of risotto. Serve Immediately.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Banana Whoopie Pies!!

Chances are...if there is "Banana" desserts on the menu that is
what I will always choose above any sweet treat, Banana's Foster,
Banana Cream Pie, Banana Pudding you name it. I'm a banana
addict. This recipe had my name all over it! Try it!!!

Banana Whoopie Pies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1) In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine bananas and
buttermilk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking
soda. Gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with banana
2) Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto parchment paper-
lined baking sheets. Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Cool for
2 minutes before removing from pans and then place on wire
rack to cool completely.
3) For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter
and butter until fluffy. Beat in confectioners sugar and vanilla
until smooth. Spread filling on bottom half of cookies and top
with remaining cookie.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Oh man, Am I a day late posting this recipe? Maybe, but it does
not have to be Game Day to enjoy the best tasting Nachos! Your
taste buds are going to thank me. I would even eat this as a meal.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos
3 chicken breasts, cut into strips or chunks
tortilla chips
1 onion, diced
3 celery sticks, sliced thin
1 cup shredded carrots.
1 cup franks hot sauce
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Heat olive oil in skillet and cook chicken until done and pour
the hot sauce and butter over chicken and cook for one minute.
Take the chicken out of skillet and set aside. In the same pan
cook celery, onion and carrots until tender. Preheat oven to 350*.
Place tortilla chips on a cookie sheet and layer all the ingredients.
Bake until cheeses are melted.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella French Toast Sandwiches

Today is National Nutella Day and in my house EVERYDAY is
a Nutella day! My son is obsessed with it. Whenever I buy some
I always notice the jar missing...Hmm, wonder who took it? I
thought I would surprise them with this tasty treat! I like to
finish it off with a little powdered sugar and maybe some syrup.

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

4 slices challah bread
2 bananas sliced length wise and in half
4 tablespoons peanut butter
6 tablespoons nutella
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
butter for the pan

1) Mix eggs, milk and vanilla in a bowl
2) Heat pan on stovetop
3) Spread nutella on on half of bread and the peanut butter
on the other half and place banana slice and make a sandwich.
4) Dip in eggs mixture and the excess drip off.
5) Cook until golden.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cutie Pie

I just thought I would send you all a big dose of cuteness!
I hope these pics put a smile on your face!! Happy Thursday!

I just joined Twitter, come and join me @ValSoCal4

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mac and Cheese Soup

Can I just tell you how much I loved this soup....LOVE. It was also
a bonus that all of my picky kiddos loved it too. I'm also loving my
my new camera and have been having so much fun taking cool pics
of food and kids. Don't you love the heart baguette with tomatoes
on top? Remember you eat with your eyes first!! Enjoy!

Mac and Cheese Soup

1 cup of elbow macaroni
cooking spray
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 baguette slices
salt and pepper
pinch of cayenne
3 shallots
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1) Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to
450 degrees. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.
Add the macaroni and cook as directed on box.
2) Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the tomato
and baguette slices on it in a single layer, season with salt and pepper.
Bake until bread is golden, about 7 minutes.
3) Mince the shallots, carrots and celery in a food processor. Place
butter in a saucepan and cook vegetables until tender. Add flour and
cook, stirring 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the broth and bring to a boil
cook, stirring, until thickened 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4) Add the milk, cheeses, spices and stir until cheeses are melted.
Season with salt and pepper. Top with toasts and tomatoes.
" Note, I doubled this recipe" Food Network.

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