Monthly Archives: February 2011


The Oscars are creeping up on us. I love Oscar night, especially when there are some decent movies actually nominated! I always print out Oscar ballots and my S.O. and I (and anyone else we have over) fill out our picks for all of the categories. It makes things fun and exciting, even on categories you wouldn’t normally care about (like art direction, or sound mixing).Want to have everyone fill out an Oscar ballot at your Oscar party this year? Click here and print away! Give away a small prize for the person who had the most correct categories!

Oscar night is not just about the movies at my house. It shockingly obviously is also about the food that accompanies the awards. I love making finger foods so people can pick and choose a couple things and munch away on a small plate while they watch. Last year, I made beer-cheddar fondue with a ton of dippers (cauliflower, carrots, bread, celery, tomatoes, bellpeppers, broccoli, steamed fingerling potatoes, etc). We had my boyfriend’s sister and her S.O. over. She brought the homemade bread and some great Chianti. I love fondue and it’s the perfect Oscar party food if you’re “party” is small enough.

If you’re having more than 4 people over, or if you want something a little more casual and a lot less work, set out the usual types of finger foods–mini quiche, queso dip in the crock pot, veggie tray, fruit salad, salsa, dip, chips, and GUACAMOLE!


Avocados don’t last very long in my house, and guacamole goes even quicker. Here’s an “oscar-worthy” recipe for guacamole that will please everyone’s palate.

Halved Avocado

Oscar-worthy Guacamole

What you need

  • 3-4 ripe avocados
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Simple Guacamole Ingredients

What you do:

  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocados into a mixing bowl, saving 1 or 2 of the pits.
  2. Sprinkle on the garlic salt, lemon pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mash together with a potato masher until thick and creamy, leaving some chunks for texture. (Mash until it’s the consistency of your liking)
  3. Add the Worcestershire, Tabasco and lemon juice. Stir well to mix in.
  4. Put the pit(s) on top of the guacamole and cover tightly with saran wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Tips and Variations

  • Keep those pits! They help keep the guacamole bright green, as opposed to the dirty brown they get when they’ve oxidized.Simply sticking them on top of the guac helps prevent browning.
  • Make your guacamole chunky. Add diced tomatoes and red onion at the very end and stir to mix!
  • Use lime juice instead of lemon juice
  • Use fonly resh minced garlic and kosher salt with some lemon juice
  • Spread the guacamole on your bacon and turkey sandwich
  • Make this pasta with your avocados instead of guacamole for the Oscars!
  • Buy avocados from your local farmers market–they’ll last longer and have more flesh and thinner skin, depending on variety
  • Add in season salt
  • Replace the Tabasco with Tapatio

Dig In

I Want To Make…


French Onion Soup Contained Within a Dumpling

They’ve been on my list of things to make for over a year! I first saw them on this show on the FoodNetwork called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”  They were featured in a NY restaurant, one I will probably never be able to visit, and I frantically searched for a recipe. Leave it to Fine Cooking to come through for me–best food magazine ever. Seriously. Subscribe. Now.

They seem easy enough, albeit time consuming. Anyone wanna come over and make a mess of my kitchen with me?? I’m taking applications. French Onion Soup aficionados only, please!

Seriously…Stef, let’s relive our college cooking days and make these asap! Anyone else here brave enough to make these sinful appetizers?

The Vampire Orange

Citrus. Say it out loud. Really…do it. Doesn’t the word itself just sound light and fresh, not to mention delicious? Citrus…ah!

Over here in SoCal we’re lucky because we have some of the best local citrus. Not the gross stuff at the grocery store chains, I’m talking about the fresh, locally-grown-with-love stuff. I’m completely spoiled, now that I get to buy, taste, and write about the Coronado Farmers Market.

I always buy a huge bag of Valencia oranges from a farm called Polito Family Farms (read all about them and their yummy citrus offerings here!). They’re the best oranges you will EVER TASTE IN YOUR LIFE–even if you’re in Florida and think that YOU have the best oranges. You’re wrong  ;) (shoutout to Julia P. who really is way over in Florida!)

This past week, the Polito farm had some blood oranges (one of my faves!) so I bought a couple of those to take home. They’re small, about the size of a tangerine, and pack some serious punch when it comes to flavor. They’re awesome.

Ever tried blood oranges? While their name may not be appetizing, their flavor is one to relish. They get their red pigment from a genetic mutation and contain a flavor that’s something like a mix between an orange and a raspberry (also two of my favorite flavored liqueurs).

Blood Orange Wedge

And yes. They taste as good as they look. Go to your local farmers market and snatch some up, as these ruby fruits are only available in the winter! Then try out some of these ways to utilize the rare fruit.

Ways to use blood oranges:

  • Juice and drink
  • Zest on top of chicken or rice
  • Segment into a best-dressed salad of arugula and avocado
  • Substitute your regular orange juice in your mimosa with blood orange juice
  • Make frozen fruit pops with the juice for a healthy after-school snack
  • Dice the fruit with some cilantro, onion, jalapeno peppers, and some salt and pepper. Toss well and serve on top of tilapia
  • Add some blood orange juice to your favorite margarita recipe

Got any good ideas to use blood oranges for? Tell me in the comments!

Blood Orange

Drunken Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

The time has come! (the walrus said)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries with White Chocolate Drizzle

My article for these delicious guys is up on Patch, so click that link and check out all the goodies on strawberries.

And because most of you won’t click that link, here’s the recipe for my Drunken Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. If you didn’t guess from my teaser of these Valentine’s Day treats, I injected the berries with Triple Sec for a burst of orange flavor as you eat the berry.

Injecting the strawberry with Triple Sec

WARNING: These chocolate-covered strawberries are best eaten whole, so as to save you the trouble of dribbling delicious orange liqueur down your lip. Because that’s just wasteful.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy the pics!


Drunken Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Things you need:

  • 25 medium sized strawberries (about one basket, but if you buy a three-pack, you’ve got more options for the biggest and prettiest strawberries)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (use dark chocolate for more contrast plus a boost in antioxidants!)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1-2 oz. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • Wax paper
  • Food injector
  • Microwavable bowls
  • Space in your fridge

The Blank Canvas

How it’s done:

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry your strawberries. Let them sit out, after washing, on a pan covered in wax paper for about an hour before dipping. You want absolutely no water anywhere near the chocolate.
  2. Fill up your food injector with the orange liqueur. Pierce each strawberry with the injector near the top of the strawberry and fill with alcohol. Only a very small amount will fill up each strawberry.
  3. Melt the milk chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl for about one minute on half-power. If they glisten, as if they’re wet, take them out and stir, stir, stir. Keep stirring until creamy and smooth. If they’re not yet glistening, put them back in the microwave for another 30 seconds at half-power.
  4. Holding the strawberry by its stem, dip the strawberry in the melted milk chocolate, side to side, then front to back. Put back on the wax paper and repeat with remaining strawberries.
  5. Once all the strawberries have been dipped in the milk chocolate, put them into the fridge to set the chocolate. Leave them in there for about an hour, or until the chocolate has hardened.
  6. Melt the white chocolate chips the same way you melted the milk. Dip a fork into the white chocolate and drizzles over the hardened milk-chocolate dipped strawberries.
  7. You can store these in your fridge in a plastic container for about two days.

Half Done

Tips and Variations

  • Dip in white chocolate and drizzle with milk or dark chocolate
  • Inject champagne in the strawberries for a classier treat
  • When the milk chocolate is still wet, roll in crushed graham crackers or your favorite nut
  • Omit the alcohol for a kid-friendly treat
  • Melt your chocolate in a double boiler instead of the microwave
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let any kind of moisture (cream, water, steam) near your chocolate as it melts. This will cause your chocolate to seize, that is, the cocoa and sugar in the chocolate will stick and clump together, forming a grainy dry mess. The same thing happens when you burn chocolate

Serve with Champagne or Sparkling Cider

Superbowl Sunday

This year, I only love the Super Bowl for the food and the commercials.

Because a football game is only fun if you’re actually rooting for someone, I’m cheering on the Packers, but I’m the furthest thing from a Packers fan.

I usually take this “big day in football” to whip up some yummy snacks and chow down the whole day. I love queso, chips and salsa with guacamole, onion dip and chips, seven layer dip, spinach and artichoke dip–lots of dips. But this year, we’re eating light and toning it down.

I’m making tofu and veggie pot stickers later, but this morning I got up and made these guys.

Soft Pretzels

Homemade soft pretzels ready for dipping in cheese sauce or mustard. So good! Who needs football when you have food??


*Notice my use of black and yellow. This is not my attempt to cheer for the Steelers, rather there are no polls that contain the color scheme green and yellow, so I made it as festive as I could.


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