Favorite Recipes

I haven’t been cooking and baking much lately, but here are some of my most favorite recent recipes:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Peanut Butter Cup Crack Brownies

Gluten Free Brownies– LOVE David Lebovitz! Read his blog. So many good recipes and funny stories about life in Paris.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars– These are FREAKING AMAZING! A great go-to recipe for any event. I have never met anyone who hasn’t loved these!

I have been DYING to make this Dark Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie

YUM! I’m getting hungry just thinking about these delicious treats! Happy Baking!


Banana Crumb Muffins

I had several ripe bananas on the counter today and wanted to make something with them. I didn’t have enough for my banana bread recipe (requires 6, I had 4), so I did a google search for banana muffins. This allrecipes.com one was the second  that came up. Reviews said they were delicious, and who doesn’t like a crumb topping?!

So I made them with a few additions:

-Added about 1 tsp of vanilla extract

-Added about 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract.

-Added about 1 tbsp of cinnamon in the actual batter in addition to what is called for in the topping. Also increased the cinn in the topping to 1 tsp. I LOVE cinnamon!

-I SHOULD had added walnuts or sliced almonds, but I totally forgot to 😦

I also made 6 large muffins, instead of 10 small ones as the recipe suggested. They needed 5 extra minutes of cooking time (I originally set for 18 mins, so 23 total) and came out perfectly! They are light and fluffy with a great banana taste. Definitly a make-again recipe.

BBQ Pizza

A few weeks ago I went to a party where the host made pizzas on her barbecue. These pizzas were so delicious and reminded me of pizzas I have had in Italy. The pizzas were made on a pizza stone (I got mine from William Sonoma) which gave the crust a crispy, brick oven texture and flavor. They were so good that I had to order my own stone!

I used a crust from Trader Joe’s, which was great, but a little thick. This may have been because I didn’t roll it out flat enough. On William Sonoma’s website, they have a recipe for a thin crust pizza, which I am going to try tonight.

To top my pizza, I used a jar of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni on part of the pizza, and grilled zucchini and goat cheese on another part. I sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese over the top. The pizza cooked up in about 10 minutes on the stone! The hardest part was waiting for it to cool before biting into it!

Pizza made on the BBQ!

Mascarpone Chocolate Toffee Bars

Two days ago my fiance left for a river rafting trip in the Grand Canyon (jealous!). He wanted some treats to take along for his friends, so I made these Mascarpone Chocolate Toffee Bars. This recipe comes from Giade De Laurentiis, and it is a great one that I make all the time because it is so easy and decadent. The bars look and taste like they were beautiful and time consuming, but they aren’t.

I do a couple things differently:

-To the softened store-bought sugar cookie dough, I add 1/2 tsp. of vanilla, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 chopped up toffee bars (I use Heath).

Sugar cookie dough with toffee pieces.

-I don’t add the oil to the melted chocolate. It supposedly makes it shinier, but I think adding the oil is kind of gross.

-To the top of the chocolate mascarpone layer, I use 2 chopped toffee bars. Also, toasting the almonds is key, it gives them so much more flavor and is worth the extra 10 minutes. I usually toast them right after the baked cookie base comes out and the oven is still on.

-They really need to be refrigerated to help the top set, but they do taste best at room temperature. I will eat them any way though 🙂

The yummy topping!


Coconut Macaroons

Happy 4th of July!

Today we’re going to a barbeque and I decided to make coconut macaroons. There is a fabulous little bakery here that makes amazing coconut macaroons. They make two varieties, one has sliced almonds and the top is covered in chocolate. The other type has lemon and basil inside, with a lemon glaze. Sounds strange with the basil, but they are so fresh a delicious tasting!

I found a recipe for Lemony Almond Macaroons from Real Simple. They have lemon zest and almonds in them, so I made these and covered half in melted chocolate chips, and the other half, I added basil before baking and when they were done I dusted them with powdered sugar and then covered them in a lemon glaze (lemon juice, lemon zest, powdered sugar).

They look beautiful (sorry for the horrible pictures)!

Chocolate Almond Macaroons


Lemon Basil Macaroons


Apricot Margarita

At dinner last night we had a guest who is allergic to wine, and usually drinks margaritas and martinis, and likes them sweet! I decided to attempt a margarita from scratch (usually I just use a mix).

I started with making a simple syrup as the sweetener. We also had several ripe apricots so I decided to add two to the syrup to infuse it with the apricot flavor.  Then I juiced a few Meyer lemons. To mix the drink, I used about 3/4 of a shot of tequila, and equal amount lemon juice and syrup (about 1/4 cup each). The amount of syrup you add is really a matter of taste and how sweet you like your drink. Same with the liquor. Use a full shot if you want it stronger, half if you like it weaker.

I shook up the mix with ice in a separate glass, and poured it into a martini glass with half of one of the apricots. It was delicious tasting! Very fresh, a little tart, and lightly sweet from the apricot syrup.

Apricot Margarita

Ingredients, Yields 2 Drinks:

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

2 Apricots, halved (could use any fruit for same effect. I’ve even used mint or basil)

1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice ((adjust for taste)

2 Shots Tequila (adjust for taste)



Combine the sugar, water, and apricots in a small sauce pan and heat over medium until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Turn off and let cool. Combine the lemon juice with tequila, add the syrup a little at a time, tasting as you go until the desired sweetness is reached. Shake with ice to cool (or you could even blend it). Serve with or without ice.


GF Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate. These are very chocolately cookies! They are also gluten-free! I made these last night for our Sunday family dinner and my fiance’s mom has a gluten allergy so I’m always looking for delicious gluten-free recipes. I found this on Pinterest quite a while ago and have been dying to make them!

These Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies were very easy to make and very few ingredients were required. I baked the first batch for 10 minutes, and they didn’t spread or crack very much, but they were still amazing. The second batch cooked for longer, about 12-13 minutes, and the spread and cracked much more. Both were so delicious. The inside was soft and full of melted chocolate chips. My family dubbed them “chocolate lava cookies

I think the key was baking them during dinner, so they were warm and melty when we were ready to eat them for dessert!  I highly recommend making this if you like chocolate! You don’t need to be gluten-free to enjoy this chocolate treat!

Thai-Style Vegetable Rice Noodles

Last night I made this noodle dish. I typically do not cook Asian inspired things. These are flavors that I am not totally familiar with so it’s hard for me to improvise. In this case I followed the exact recipe.

I found the Thai-Style Vegetable Rice Noodle recipe from a Cooking Light, recipe, but it’s also available on their website.

This dish was relatively easy to put together, but it was time-consuming due to all the chopping! In hindsight I should have thrown all the herbs in the food processor, but I didn’t think of it until later. 😦 The recipe also calls for fish sauce, which I could not find at my local grocery store, so I think an element of flavor was missing, and addition salt was required to make up for the missing saltiness of the fish sauce. I didn’t measure, just added a little salt, tossed, tasted, and added more as needed.

Everyone who ate it loved so I would make this noodle dish again, but would definitely use to food processor to speed up the chopping process!

Happy cooking!

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

This Saturday morning I felt like making something delicious! Months ago I pinned this recipe from King Aurthur Flour on Pinterest. They were absolutely amazing. I didn’t have cinnamon chips, so I just added extra cinnamon to all three layers-the batter, filling, and topping. When the were done and cool I made a simple glaze with powdered sugar and milk.

Simply Sinful Cinnamon Muffins

While I loved these, they were a very sweet treat, and I think the sugar could have been cut down a little and they would still be amazing. I would also have liked the nuts dispersed throughout the muffin. Just not in the topping. I will definitely be making these again!

Happy Weekend!

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles cupcakes are my FAVORITE. The cake is most and perfect-not to light, not too dense. The frosting is thick and creamy and sweet. And they look pretty 🙂

My boyfriend was in college at UCLA when the first Sprinkles store opened in Beverly Hills. We make trips there frequently so I like to think of us as some of the original Sprinkles fans.  After finishing school and living back in San Diego, we even make trips up to LA just for these cupcakes! At the time my favorites were carrot, pumpkin, and peanut butter chocolate. After a while, they opened a store in Newport (about an hour away),  so we would go there instead. In January of 2011 when Sprinkles opened a store in San Diego I was beyond excited. I stood in a 2 hour line for the grand opening (yes, I am one of those crazy people)! I don’t go that often anymore (mainly for my waistline and for my wallet) but when I go I have to get my favorites!

Top left to right: Red Velvet, Banana Dark Chocolate.
Bottom left to right: Carrot, Vanilla Milk Chocolate.

My two new favorite flavors are Red Velvet and Carrot. These both have AMAZING cream cheese frosting. The Carrot frosting has cinnamon in it. I have found the recipe online and make it recently for my homemade carrot cake and it was delicious! The carrot cake is also awesome because it only has walnuts, no raisins (I’m not a huge raisin fan). If you have Sprinkles near you, it is definitely something you should experience. If not, you can re-create it at home with their frosting! Williams Sonoma also sells some flavors of Sprinkles dry cupcake mixes.

Recently, Sprinkles opened in Ice Cream shop next to their location in Beverly Hills. I am DYING to go up there and try it! The salty caramel and coffee fudge almond are calling my name! Yum Yum!!

If anyone has been there and tried it please tell me about it so I can live vicariously through you!