Friday, December 19, 2014

Melted Snowmen Cookies

O THER THAN getting to see my family in Los Angeles, this hasn't been the white Christmas I've been dreaming of.  My grandma was rushed to the emergency room and we were told she would not make it past a week.  Since being admitted to the hospital her condition has stabilized, but it's been a sleepless week for everyone involved and it's been difficult keeping our spirits up.  My grandpa also was rushed to the hospital today and we are waiting to hear the prognosis.  One of my worst fears in life is feeling helpless when the people I love are not well.

I try to remind myself that there are many silver linings: this year has been a really great one in a lot of ways.  My friends have proven time and time again that they are there to help me back up when I've fallen, which is one of those things in life you don't really seem to notice until you're down.  I met my boyfriend who is someone I truly feel is my partner and makes me smile just because of who he is.  He is the kind of person who would laugh at me when I call to tell him I've locked myself out of my car but drop everything to help me get in.  I feel so fortunate to have met him.  This year I also got to explore China with my family, and my grandparents who are all over 90 years in age have lived really complete, fulfilled, lives.  The last couple of years I felt a rift growing between me and my parents; this year I feel like that gap has been partially bridged though there is still a distance.  I make every effort to see things through an objective lens: a situation is never really good or bad, our attitude is what makes it so.

Before my sister and I rushed to LA, we had made these festive sugar cookies that I planned on giving out to friends.  They're really easy to make and taste great too.

Yields 30 cookies

  •  3/4 cup softened butter
  •  1 cup white sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until consistency is smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  2. Cover and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 400° F.  Roll out dough on floured surface 1/3" thick.  Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter or cup. 
  4. Bake 6 - 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
  5. Once cookies are cool, spread the icing on each cookie and allow to dry (see below for homemade icing instructions).
  6. For the 'head' of the snowman, cut a marshmallow in half and microwave them on a plate for 15-20 seconds or as soon as the marshmallow starts to puff up.  Remove and position them on the cookie.
  7. Using colored icing, decorate the faces on the marshmallow and the arms and buttons on the snowman's body.

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar 
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup 
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract  

  1. Stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. 
  2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy.  Add corn syrup to thin the icing if it's too thick.  When you put the icing on the cookie, allow icing to firm up and go from a glossy finish to matte.  This will take several hours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Cauliflower

C auliflower is currently my "it" veggie.  Most people probably don't think so, but cauliflower is an incredibly versatile ingredient and can take on so many different flavors.  My go-to method is the easiest by far, taking cauliflower coated in olive oil, marjoram, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and roasting it in the oven.  You really can't beat the ease and taste with this recipe.  

A couple of other cauliflower recipes have been on my radar: these Crispy Cauliflower Tacos from Ashley at Blissful Basil, or this healthy Cauliflower Crust Pizza spotted on, and perhaps most amazing of all, a Creamy Cauliflower Sauce that is promised to taste as good as alfredo sauce (!!!), from Lindsay at Pinch of Yum.


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup of Balsamic vinegar (or more depending on how Balsamic-y you like it)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram flakes

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  2. Break cauliflower head into florets.
  3. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and dried marjoram.  Coat cauliflower florets with mixture and place on parchment paper or directly on a baking sheet, spreading apart evenly.
  4. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, turning over halfway through.
  5. Remove tray from oven and spoon balsamic vinegar over cauliflower.  
  6. Return to oven for another 5 minutes.

What are some other ways you have prepared cauliflower?  I'd love to hear!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween 2014 - DIY Mug Shot Backdrop

OF ALL THE HOLIDAYS, Halloween is without a doubt my favorite.  It wasn't even September and I already started decorating the house.  I didn't get to take pictures of all the goodies I made (and there were lots) but you can trust it was an intoxicating-ly good time.  I did manage to take a few photos early in the night of guests posing in front of an easy-to-make photo backdrop.

Here's what you'll need to make your own:

  • Large poster paper (I used photo backdrop paper because I work with a photographer who uses this) -- you'll want to put together or cut a 5 ' x 5' piece, if not larger.
  • Black duct tape
  • Print outs of the numbers 3-7 (download font here)
  • Red acrylic paint for "blood" splatter (I used this)


  1. Measure 1' from bottom of the paper and place a 1' piece of duct tape from the right edge of the poster paper.  Paste the 3' cut out onto the sheet and place another long strip of duct tape from the number to the left edge.
  2. Repeat step 1 for numbers 4 - 7.
  3. Using a medium sized brush, splatter red paint across the paper.
  4. Optional: find chalk and a mini chalkboard from your local craft store to use as a mugshot placard.

From top left to bottom right: B. Spears, Alex from Clockwork Orange with Cactus man, Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Suzy Bishop from Moonrise Kingdom, and Whoopee Cushion

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spicy Sausage & Honey Marscapone Pizza

THIS IS THE PIZZA to end all pizzas.  A couple of years back, I had one of the most lip-smackingly delicious pizzas that I can recall.  Though it is a well known fact that I am uncannily partial to these heavenly pies, the sausage and honey pizza at Vesta distinctly stuck out to me because of the savory sweet combination that I talked about in my last post

Not being able to make reservations on a Friday night, I decided it would be simple to recreate the meal at home.  Indeed it was... you can bet that this pizza is definitely going to get some major facetime with my friends.  In essence, my lack of planning last Friday has become your good luck.


  • Pizza dough
  • Pizza / tomato sauce - I like to buy pizza sauce and add minced garlic
  • 2 spicy Italian sausages - you can also use vegetarian sausage like I did
  • Marscapone cheese
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers
  • Honey
  • Roughly chopped fresh parsley

Scatter sausage and Serrano chili peppers over sauce-covered pizza.


  1. Lightly scatter all-purpose flour onto your work surface so dough does not stick.  Roll out pizza dough to about a 1/4" thickness, about 10 in. in diameter.
  2. Cut Serrano chili peppers into thin slices, about 1/8".
  3. Spread pizza sauce, then top with thinly sliced Italian spicy sausage (I used pre-cooked sausage but you should cook yours beforehand if raw).
  4. Preheat oven to 425°.
  5. Place pizza into the oven for approximately 12 minutes until crust is golden.
  6. Wait 5 minutes before sprinkling fresh chopped parsley on top, spreading marscapone cheese, and drizzling with honey.
  7. Divide and conquer!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bliss Point

Salted caramel, peanut butter and jelly, chocolate pretzels.  You've probably realized on some level that when you pair salty and sweet together you strike the perfect balance of flavors... but did you ever wonder why?

The answer is, as usual, science.  Studies have shown that the sugar receptors on your taste buds are activated when salt accompanies sugar.  When researchers formulate food products they utilize this phenomenon (aptly named the "bliss point"), to create junk foods that harmoniously combine salt, sugar, and fat.  Even so, my favorite healthy snack is a marriage of homegrown figs, goat cheese, and crispy rosemary and raisin crackers.  Try it out!  I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Just call me Little Miss Figgy.

You can learn more about the bliss point in this article published in the New York Times.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Find me on Instagram!

Despite my protests against modern technology, two dear friends gifted me an iPhone in the hopes of putting an end to my days of getting lost while driving (yet somehow always finding a way to end up in the ghetto).

After coming to terms with the fact that it was not a very dense brick of chocolate, I succumbed to the magic of the iPhone. My priorities were straight as usual, and I immediately downloaded Instagram.

Find images of my compulsive thrifting habits and food conquests, and proof that nature is (dogs are) the best.