Friday, February 27, 2015

Thai Dishes on Broadway - Santa Monica, CA

YUM! I would definitely recommend this awesome Thai restaurant if you are in Santa Monica, CA. At Thai Dishes on Broadway, I was even able to sit outside on a heated patio and eat dinner. This is a real treat if you're from Illinois! I just loved this place! I got my usual Thai favorite, Broccoli Beef, but the sauce was not too thick, just like I like it. The flavors weren't overpowering, and the beef and broccoli were cooked perfectly! I also had a Singha beer with dinner, and I really enjoyed just sitting and people watching. The place is just over a block to the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier.

 This place is very classy, but not super dressy. It would be perfect for a date, dinner with friends, dinner with family, a medium-sized group, and great for lunch and dinner.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gourmet Chocolate Heart Candies - Made At Home!

I had SO much fun creating these heart chocolates. I made them in several varieties, and I am going to tell you how each one turned out! I used the highest-quality ingredients, mostly from the baking aisle and craft stores (for the heart mold and sprinkles). These turned out so well! 
 These would be the perfect Valentine's Day gift for someone who loves sweets but is hard to shop for! These aren't super expensive to make, like some seasonal recipes are, either! 
*Note - do not use almond bark or candy melts for this method*
For best results, use a spoon to place toppings in heart mold. Let's begin the fun! 
Here are my "toppings" from left to right. 
Heath - make sure to only use a light, single layer of these or they won't all stick to the chocolate.
Andes - My favorite! Fill with Andes about 1/3 of the way.
Sprinkles - Look best on white chocolate, rather than milk.
Chopped Walnuts - Use only a light layer, similar to Heath.
Larger Sprinkles - use a single layer for best results.
*The prettiest ones were the little nonpareils (tiny ball sprinkles) in a single layer*
Now, melt the chocolate! I used a double boiler method (explained here - but do not add any butter). I used a shallow, medium pot and filled it about 1/3 of the way with water. I placed two 2 Cup Pyrex measuring cups in the water for a double boiler. Melt 1 package each of the milk chocolate and white chocolate in separate cups. Slowly melt the chocolates, and stir frequently. They should be smooth and move easily. 
Once your melted chocolate is smooth, remove the cups with an oven mitt, and place them onto a towel near your work space. Get a little bit of chocolate onto a spoon, and begin adding milk chocolate to half of the hearts...
And, white chocolate to the other hearts. Be careful not to get chocolate everywhere, so your end result is prettier.
Carefully, slide the hearts onto a baking sheet or cutting board to transport them into the freezer. 
Here they are after being in the freezer for less than an hour! Make sure they are completely cooled and hardened before you move them. 
One of my favorite parts was removing the fresh chocolates from the molds and seeing my creations! I liked most all of them, and think they would look adorable packaged up all cute for Valentine's Day! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Strawberry Muffins From Scratch - With Pink Icing!

I wanted to make something with strawberries for Valentine's Day and here they are! The muffins don't need the icing, but it sure made them cute. I used mini muffin tins, and they were perfectly bite sized. These muffins were very moist, so make sure you cook them thoroughly. 

2 C. all purpose flour

1/3 C. sugar

1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 C. milk
1/4 C. vanilla yogurt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. fresh strawberries, hulled and finely chopped

Mix all ingredients except for strawberries. 
Here is my muffin batter before I added the strawberries and sugar. 
Below, I pureed the strawberries and added them to my batter. I also added 2 drops of food coloring to enhance the pink color for the photos :)
Bake the mini muffins for 15-18. Now, make your icing. 
I made a simple icing in my food processor. Add all ingredients, and process until combined. Scrape sides to incorporate any extra ingredients. Pour into smaller bowl to spoon onto muffins. 
ICING INGREDIENTS -  Original Recipe
1 Tbsp Butter - 1 C. Powdered Sugar - 1-2 Tbsp milk - 1/4 tsp vanilla - 2 tsp. fruit - Food Coloring
Thanks for stopping by! These were even great the next day. Enjoy!