Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fluffy Fruit Puffs

A little like cream puffs.  A tiny bit like a fruit tart. A lotta delicious.


- Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells (in freezer section near pie crusts)
- vanilla pudding (jello instant pudding, requires 2 cups of skim milk)
- whipped cream
- fresh fruit for topping.  use what you like! 

Bake the shells according to the box instructions.  I used an egg wash to help brown the tops.  (Just an egg whipped with a little water brushed on the pastries before baking.)  After they cool, pinch off the center top.  Then pull out the middle of the pastry halfway down the shell.  It's easier with your fingers than with knives.

I used about a tablespoon of vanilla pudding for each shell because it's very sweet.  Fill it up all the way to make it more like a cream puff.

Squeeze whipped cream to fill the pastry and nest the fruit on top.  Serve immediately.  If you plan to serve these hours later, use more vanilla pudding to make a base, because the weight of the fruit makes the whipped cream settle.

Next time I'll just use strawberries on top for a different take on strawberry shortcake.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh Kanye

As @kanyewest figures out twitter, (enough with the shoutouts!) go check out his sleek, edited blog
It's been going strong for years and it's dedicated to fashion, design and technology.  He (or his team of talent) recently did a fab post on Posh.

Victoria Beckham in Vogue, Turkey August 2010 issue

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hustle & Cuss

I love the blues.  A lot of you guys dig The Black Keys.  If you aren't already, start listening to The Dead Weather.  Aggressive, foot-stomping, bluesy rock. I just saw them at Hollywood Palladium.

Lots of people were there for Jack White, but my heart belongs to Alison Mosshart. She's a cross between Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde.  Sexy and a bit scary with The Dead Weather and sultry with The Kills.

The VIP bar sure is a happening place, no?  Ha. I love it because there's no one in line. Yeah!

My one shot of Jack White.  I love the black getup and white shoes.  His arm is slung around one of his roadies.  For a second I thought he was a band member!  Then I remembered Jack White dresses all of his people in style.  The Dead Weather roadies sport black suits, hats and blue ties.  Red ties for The White Stripes, yellow ties for The Raconteurs.  Yeah, it's a formula and it's a fantastic one.

Click here to groove to some of my Dead Weather faves: Hustle and Cuss and  I Cut Like a Buffalo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Essentials

Nothing feels less glamorous than melted makeup and frizzy hair.  Here are products I use to prevent wilting in the heat and humidity.

Stila Sun Bronzing Powder -  Shade 2 is the most popular, looks the most natural and goes on gradually. $28

Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo - Best dry shampoo on the market.  If you've never used dry shampoo, it will change your life.  Use it after a workout or to refresh your hair when it starts to feel oily but doesn't need washing. $24

J.F. Lazartigue Anti-Frizz Smoothing Straightening Gel - This puts products like frizz ease to shame. I used to get my hair chemically straightened because of frizz.  Never again!  $33

Moroccan Oil - keeps hair smooth and shiny and works nearly as well as the straightening gel for half the price. $15

Zon Cosmedix 24/7 Oil Control Blotting Tissues  - It absorbs oil, but also powders your face a bit.  Choose between Amber & Rose depending on your skin tone. I'm Amber. $5

Do you spy the pair of false eyelashes in the shot?  I'm going to let you in on a secret.  Lashes for $2.00 to $2.50 a set.  Hundreds of styles too.  In fact, all of the goodies on this page were bought at Nigel's Beauty Emporium.  It's where Hollywood studios and makeup artists stock up.  Go!

Nigel's Beauty Emporium
11252 Magnolia Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 760-3902

Blow Torches & Tarts

My first apple tart was incredibly easy and fun to make.  It was also my first time using a blow torch. (You can see I got carried away in some places!)  Sure, the broiler can give you a similar effect, but there's something exciting about using power tools in the kitchen.  I'm shooting a vid to show you how I made it.  I'll post the recipe too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Favorite Things

My Keds from the Gap are so comfortable and remind me of high school cheerleading tryouts.  And why wear your heart on your sleeve when you can store treasures in heart pockets?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Morton's Mac and Cheese

The mac and cheese at Morton's is so rich and creamy and has bite, which I learned comes from chile paste.  I tweaked Morton's published recipe, like using mild instead of sharp cheddar.  It tastes creamier and closer to the restaurant version.  You get plenty of kick from the chile paste!

Get ready.  It's about to get very cheesy and fattening.

16 ounces large elbow pasta
1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter
4 tablespoons finely diced yellow onion
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups for the sauce)
5 ounces mild cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups for the topping)
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
3 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 ounce Swiss cheese, grated (about 6 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon chile paste, like sambal olek (Asian foods section of supermarket)
3/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs (Asian foods section of supermarket)


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F

2. Cook the pasta until al dente (a couple of minutes before recommended cooking time).  Keep 1/2 cup of pasta water we'll use later to thin the sauce.  Drain but leave a little water on the pasta to keep it moist.
Keep pasta covered in cooking pot to keep warm.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions until tender, which is about 1 minute. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, swiss and (6 oz of) cheddar cheese.  Stir until melted and fully incorporated. Let the sauce reach a simmer and stir in the chile paste. You will have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

4. Remove from heat and use a hand-held electricmixer, beat for about 45 seconds until the cheeses, chili paste and onions are completely blended. The sauce will be thick.  Get your reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water and mix well. Season to taste with salt.

5. Ladle the sauce over the pasta and mix well with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a deep, 2-quart baking dish and spread the pasta and cheese evenly. Sprinkle the coarsely shredded cheese over casserole, then sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Petticoat Affair

I don't wear petticoats, but aren't they lovely in front of Polkadots and Moonbeams?

"There's a petticoat will prove to be the cause of this."- Hawley Smart

Butch Bakery

What do you think of this idea?

Butch Bakery claims to sell manly cupcakes for manly men.  Is this possible?  I thought we had accepted that cupcakes are girly.  When Magnolia Bakery opened on 3rd street last week it was like the second coming, thanks to Sex and the City.  (I'll be the first to admit I've waited in the long line in NY for one of those magical creations!) But how about a cupcake made with beer or bacon?

When David Arrick created Butch Bakery, he was inspired by three things:

1. couldn't afford restaurants after losing his Wall Street job and started cooking
2. saw the long line of people waiting for Magnolia Bakery's cupcakes in the West Village
3. read an article describing the cupcakes as "pink and magical" and it pissed him off

Some of the flavors do look yummy...

Beer Run - chocolate beer cake with beer-infused butter cream topped with crushed pretzels
Mojito - rum-soaked lime cake with mint white-chocolate ganache
Sidecar - brandy-soaked lemon cake with an orange and white chocolate ganache filling
Driller - maple cake topped with crumbled bacon and filled with milk-chocolate ganache
Rum and Coke - rum-soaked Madagascar vanilla cake with cola Bavarian cream

They aren't available in LA yet, but there are plans to start shipping nationwide this year.  The cupcakes are $4.25 each.  I'm not surprised that the vast majority of his clients are women.  He estimates 95%!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeking History in NYC

I've been to Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, shopped at Macy's, seen a Broadway show.  After experiencing the big attractions (tourist traps), I love exploring the quieter corners of The City. Places with a past always make my heart race.

Click images to make them larger.

Where to stay: Jumeirah Essex House.  The hotel was built in 1931. It's part of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America.  It's a visual feast walking the gilded hallways of this Art Deco masterpiece.

Igor Stravinsky once lived here. Angelina Jolie owns the penthouse. Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson are neighbors.

The rooms, while spacious and neat, were a bit too modern for the hotel.  The lighted headboard is painfully out of place.  However, my needs were met.  Comfy beds, lots of room and a great soaking tub!

The hotel sits on Central Park South, which is my favorite area.  It's across from Central Park and walking distance to Bergdorf Goodman, 5th and Madison Avenues.  How charming to boat in Central Park!  The black and white photo was taken in the 30's and I took the photo at right.

I ate my way through most of Manhattan, but Sidecar in Brooklyn was my favorite restaurant.  The owners discovered the ad when stripping layers of wallpaper from the walls.  It's for Dr. Tucker's 59, a popular elixir taken off the shelves in the early 1900's when its main ingredient, cocaine, was outlawed.

I recommend the Hangover Soup for brunch.  Yes, it works.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Other Ronson Making Headlines...

Thanks to Lindsay Lohan, Samantha Ronson is practically a household name.  You know her brother Mark Ronson's music (he produced albums for Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse).  Talent runs in this family, because their sister Charlotte has a successful line called I "Heart" Ronson.  If you watch Gossip Girl you've seen her styles.
These are my favorite looks from her Fall 2010 collection, which isn't available yet in stores.

I love a crisp button-up shirt, made sexy with the button up leggings and plaid belt.  Yes, plaid is coming back yet again.  The mod look at right is so Ann Margret.
If it's gray and comfortable, it's hard for me to resist.  A slouchy boyfriend sweater with a skinny belt keeps a trim line.  In fact, I'll take both sweaters.

It's trendy and affordable, selling at JC Penney.  Each piece is between $25 to $50.

Buckle Up & Hold On

I'll be posting photos of my trip very soon!

“The present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost.”
John Jay Chapman

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sweet Sweet Hanging

Jet lagged after running around New York for a few days. I can't even bring myself to stand for this photo.  Two things are putting some spring in my step: my new favorite nail polish and ring.

Essie's "Clutch Me If You Can" looks like blood in a bottle.  You'll need three coats.

This ring from Forever 21 reminds me of a John Hardy cuff I crave, only it's about $3,000 cheaper.  Sadly, the cuff is sold out.  I was JUST about to buy it. 

kidding of course! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Little Death: Vol. 1

I'm going to NYC to see my little brother's off-off-Broadway pop opera "The Little Death, Vol. 1."  It's a story of boy meets and falls in love with girl, but she's a good girl devoted to Jesus.  My brother is the composer and stars in the show with his girlfriend Mellissa Hughes.  The music has an electronic/trance feel to me, yet many of the lyrics are taken from southern hymns my mother used to sing to us.  I'm sure there are also a few ditties from Vacation Bible School, which we attended every single summer of our youth.
I can't speak for him, but we always marveled at the passionate and rapturous atmosphere when people sang hymns at our church, yet outside of this, everyone was very serious and conservative.  He is a heck of a talented musician and composer and I'm so proud of him I could punch the sky.  I can't wait to see his show!

It opened to rave reviews last week at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery.
  • The New York Times calls the production "a consistently affecting evening of theater"
  • Time Out New York describes the "extraordinarily witty" opera as "unabashedly boppy, baroquely multireferential, then suddenly sentimental"
  • writes calls the opera "blatantly lush...[it's] musical drama for the post-Glee set, using the medium's uplift to tear the fake walls away"
Listen to songs streaming here!

Here's the music video for "I Don't Have Any Fun"

My favorite is "Penetration Overture." I tend to be impatient but just let it play.  It has a Massive Attack vibe to me. "OMG I'm Shot" is incredible too. The last song "And You Know Jesus" jumps right off and makes me want to dance (which we weren't allowed to do at our church).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar

My favorite dessert is peach cobbler.  If I knew I was having my last meal, I'd want the last bite to be sweet and tangy golden peaches with a hint of buttery crust.  This recipe is a healthier version of cobbler and it's incredibly easy. 

First you need four ripe peaches.  (Mine weren't, so I stored them in a brown bag overnight with a banana.  They were perfect the next morning.)  You'll need one lemon, butter, brown sugar, and flour.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Now we peel the peaches.  Put away the knives and peelers and try this wonderful trick. You're going to blanch those beautiful babies so their skins slip right off.  Boil each peach for 45 seconds, then place it directly into an ice bath for a minute to stop the cooking process. 

See how easy that is? 

Slice and place them in a 10-12 pan in a circular pattern.  I used my cast iron skillet.  Then squirt an entire lemon over it.

For the topping, mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of flour.  Then add mix in 1/4 cup of butter until it's crumbly like the photo.

Sprinkle it over the peaches and pop the pan in the oven for 30 minutes. For the last 30 seconds, broil the top, watch it very closely so it doesn't burn.

I was so beautiful I was nearly jumping for joy!

Within minutes... poof!  It was almost gone.

Robert and I nearly finished the entire pan together.  It is best served right out of the oven with a few puffs of whipped cream.  Delicious!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Southern Fried

What foods remind you of childhood?  I'm four, sitting at the kitchen table eating black eyed peas with cornbead and butter.  Good old fashioned salty crumbly cornbread so dry it will choke you unless it's saturated with butter. My little brother is in his high chair pushing the peas around his tray.

We spent lots of summers in Arkansas where my mom grew up.  Always swinging so hard on Granny's swing set, willing the chair to propel us up and over.  Looking down with satisfaction as the legs lifted and heaved.  After supper we'd feed the chickens out back with leftover greens and cornbread.  On Sundays we'd fill tiny Shiloh church with family.  Uncles and aunts led us with hymns.  Massive potluck dinners always had enough food to feed the entire town and then some.  I decided to make some of my favorites for Sunday supper.

Fried okra and cornbread.  Seriously, this is a meal.  Something fried?  Check.  Something with enough carbs to last you a whole week and made with about a carton of buttermilk?  Check.  A thick slice of butter between my cornbread?  Always.

Mashed potatoes, fried chicken, mustard greens & iced tea.  Mustard greens are tricky because they can be a little bitter, but add a teaspoon of sugar as they cook and it balances out the flavor.

I like my mashed potatoes one of two ways.  Pureed within an inch off their life, or nice and lumpy with lots of butter and salt.

Okra before frying has a beautiful star shape, but it's slimy.  After being battered with buttermilk, cornmeal and flour then fried golden brown, they're hollow with a satisfying crunch.  I eat them like popcorn. 

I marinated the chicken in buttermilk.  Sensing a theme here yet?  Get a load of those breasts.  I admit I was a bit envious.  Next time I'll cut them in half.  They'll cook more quickly and then four people can have a breast piece.

I cut up a whole chicken.  It's cheaper and strangely satisfying. Bloodlust anyone?  I was watching True Blood while prepping the bird.  Now that's a show I love.  My mom can't stand it because they butcher southern accents.  Um...they could speak Russian and it would still be my favorite show on tv.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pasta Pomodoro

I picked up a package of Pappardelle Pasta at Farmer's Market and was inspired to make my own sauce.  It's a pomodoro recipe I've been using for a while now.  You can make it with or without meat.  This makes four servings.

For the meatless version, skip down to Pomodoro sauce.  I like to cook with one pound of ground beef.  Lots of people like to substitute turkey for beef, but I can't do it.  It turns white and looks unappetizing to me.  I buy beef with the lowest fat possible (around 4%) but less fat sadly means less flavor, so we'll add some ingredients to make it tasty.

Warm up a large pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat.  Add your ground beef in small pieces.  Just pinch it off.  Once it starts to cook, add about 1/4 cup of red wine, 2tsp each of salt of pepper.  Drain the juices with a turkey baster as it's browning.  Once it's all browned, set aside and cover. 

Pomodoro sauce:
In medium saucepan or pot, heat 2 tbs of olive oil, then add 1/2 diced yellow onion and 1tbs of crushed garlic.

Once the onion is translucent, add one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes.  If you can get San Marzano tomatoes in the can, do!  They are the best tomatoes for sauces, because they have a nice sweetness and thicker texture. If the tomatoes aren't diced, pour the can with the juice into a bowl and cut them into chunks on a cutting board and return to the bowl.  In a bowl, mix one small can of tomato paste and refill the can halfway, mix it all together to break up the paste.  Add 2 tbs of chopped fresh basil if you have it, if not, dried is okay too.  Add 2 tbs of oregano and 1 tsp of sugar.  Mix this all together in your pot and simmer. 

After ten minutes, add the beef, stir occasionally, and serve after 1/2 hour.  You can cook longer if you want a thicker sauce and if it gets too thick, you can add water to thin the sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
For the pasta, make two 16oz of whatever type you like.

Tip: This was my first time cooking with pappardelle. While it is beautiful, it was so unwieldy, I had to cut it with a knife!  I prefer rigatoni or penne because it's bite-sized. Linguine is wonderful too. For this thick sauce, angel hair seems a little delicate.


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