Open Letter to My New Apple Peeler

Dear Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer thingamajig that I bought yesterday,

I feel like we started out on the wrong foot. I assumed you were silly. I assumed you were one of those kitchen gadgets that would show up on a BuzzFeed list about stupid things people buy for their kitchen. I assumed you were something that no self-respecting baker would have in their cabinet. I assumed you would make not only a giant mess, but you would make my apple-pie making last at least four times longer than it should have.  But something in me said to just give it a try.


Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer – I owe you an apology.


Something happened to me after the first apple. I took out my phone and couldn’t stop taking pictures. The curly leftover peels! The slinky-like peeled, cored, sliced apple! I felt like I wanted to make a hundred apple pies. Maybe some apple sauce! Heck, I wanted to make apple butter, too!


I peeled apple after apple after apple. I took pictures from every angle. I sent texts to my husband and best friend. I stuffed that pie so full of perfectly peeled apples that whoever ate it would have kept the doctor away for ages. Plus, I was done in about ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. You, my friend, are a life-saver.


Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer, I am really, truly sorry. I’d like to start again. You are wonderful. You are helpful. I could never imagine facing Apple Pie Season again without you. Please, please can we be bffs?




Super-Quick Cream Drop Biscuits


I’ve had an annoying cold for a little over a week now.

I’m finally on the upswing, off the Robutussin and Vicks VapoRub, but I am still getting coughing fits every now and then.

Like last night. At 3AM. When Brad finally came to bed, I immediately got out of bed and hit the couch.  Because no one deserves to have to sleep next to this hacking cough.  No one could even pretend to be asleep next to me during one of my fits.  It’s probably the worst sounding cough ever. In the history of the world.

Ok, it’s really not that bad.  But I finally drifted off to sleep again last night, and when I woke up there was a gray light shining through the living room windows.  I hadn’t brought my phone with me, so I figured it was just past dawn.  I stumbled back into the bedroom, where the shades were down and it was still nice and sleepy dark.  Just for good measure before I zonked out again, I checked the time…

It was already 9:30! What was that crazy gray dawn light? Where was the hot summer sun that had been blazing in on us for what seemed like weeks and weeks?

Hidden, I guess. That melting hot sun was hidden behind a cool, foggy mist. And for some I-can’t-wait-until-fall reason, I jumped right out of bed, made myself a cup of tea, and got to baking.

Because baking during the day is completely out of the question when your apartment is a balmy 82 degrees before you’ve even turned the oven on.  But when the high is 73 and the sun is nowhere to be seen?  I preheated all the way up to 400°F.

I was making biscuits.

And not the difficult, layers of butter, rolled out, cut with biscuit cutter biscuits. Nope – I had been up half the night coughing. I hadn’t drank anything but herbal tea and orange juice and good old H2O for a week straight. This was going to be a quick, simple breakfast biscuit.  I was going to whip up some scrambled eggs with ham and have a nice, hearty, foggy morning breakfast.


Thirty minutes later, as I sat down with my sleepy husband, my room temperature cup of tea (I’m really bad at tea), and my fluffy drop biscuits with eggs, the sun was shining bright through those front windows.  The fog had already burnt off and the white hot sun was pouring in on us like every other sunny summer morning before this one.

But I had won breakfast. The 400° oven was already off, and the thermostat only read a cool 75.  Plus, I had yummy, yummy just-baked biscuits.



Super Quick Cream Drop Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cubed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter, melted
turbinado sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Mix the first four ingredients in a food processor or stand mixer until just combined.  Drop the dough in six equal parts (about 3/4 cups each) and drop onto a greased baking sheet.  The less perfectly round, the better.  Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Eat them piping hot right out of the oven.

Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

My fridge is stuffed right now.

Not because we have a crazy amount of food.  I mean, we always have sort of a crazy amount of food in our house, but this time it’s just because it’s summer.

Summer stuffs our fridge for two reasons.  The first is that everything delicious is in season.  Cherries and apricots are on their way out, peaches are at their peak, and tomatoes are just about ready.  We’ve had to start bringing the cart to the market with us because It’s kind of impossible to carry around three Weiser Farm’s melons, a bag of peaches and a flat of tomatoes.  For three hours.

Talk about a food blogger workout.

The second reason our fridge is stuffed is because we don’t have air conditioning.  So if we left those tomatoes I’m in love with out on the counter for more than twelve hours, we would not only have tomato mush, but we would also have a swarm of fruit flies.

No bueno.

Somehow recently, a few bananas got left out in the fruit bowl in the summer heat.  And I kept telling myself they’d be ok or that I’d finish them in the morning. But then I was having breakfast and I realized I could smell the bananas on the shelf next to me.  It wasn’t a bad smell, just a “use me now or I’ll turn into a big blob of gross” smell.

One of the bananas even looked like this, so I was almost sure I’d just be throwing the whole bunch away.


Except when I peeled it, just to make sure, the banana inside looked just right…


Which, of course, meant banana bread!

I started looking up recipes.  I also discovered I had a pint of strawberries that were on their last days.  (Strawberries and bananas take a back seat to stone fruit in this house, I guess.)  I figured I’d throw them in the mix.  I started making a grocery list.  I almost headed out the door.


But before I did, I just happened to stumble across a recipe for chocolate banana bread.  Chocolate. Banana. Bread.  I had an epiphany where I realized that the combination of chocolate and banana in bread was even better than banana and walnuts.  And sounded so much more like dessert than breakfast…

Plus, I was still going to add in strawberries.

Yep. I was making Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread.

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Banana bread is one of those comfort foods that just makes me happy.  It’s fluffy and light and crunchy and is kind of like a cake, but can definitely be categorized as breakfast.


This banana bread was even better.  Even more decedent.  Even more tempting to just cut yourself off a piece every time you happened to be near the kitchen.


I truly had to give away half of this loaf because it was so rich and delicious and amazing.  But mostly because I’m supposed to be on a post-vacation detox, and I just couldn’t stop eating it.

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No one I gave it to seemed to mind too much.  It was almost like a giant strawberry brownie.  And topped with vanilla ice-cream on a hot summer day?  Oh. My. Gosh.

Give it a try.  I promise you’ll be tempted to always leave your bananas out a little too long when the temperature goes up…


Strawberry Chocolate Banana Bread

ever so slightly adapted from smitten kitchen’s Double Chocolate Banana Bread

3 medium very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup Strawberries, chopped
3-4 Strawberries, sliced length-wise for topping

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, & vanilla. Use as sifter to sift baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chopped strawberries.

Pour into prepared pan, top in whichever design you’d like with the remaining strawberry slices, and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Rainy Day Blackberry Lavender Spritzer

I try to be a pretty positive person.  I really believe that you get what you give out into this world, so might as well make it happy.  Might as well find a reason to smile even when it seems like everyone else has lost their minds.

A good friend used to always quote “the sun is shining somewhere, even when it rains.”  I like that.  I try to think of the sun shining while I’m sloshing through the puddles.  It’s just the better way to spend my time.  And I swear, the energy is contagious.

But man, every now and then you take your car in for an oil change two weeks before an exciting, big vacation you’ve been trying to save a tiny bit of money for, and – instead of just oil – your car needs a month’s rent worth of repairs.

Puddles.  Big, muddy puddles.  Maybe even without rain boots.  Because who owns rain boots in Los Angeles?

After we authorized radiators and belts and whatnot, Brad hung up the phone and I made a decision.

It was officially happy hour.

The good thing (sunshine!) was we had also just gotten home from the market, where we had gone crazy buying all kinds of fruits, vegetables, cage free eggs, raisins, and pork.  I figure we were stocked food-wise until at least vacation in a couple of weeks, so we would just have to live off of our bounty and spend our food budget instead on radiators…

I was starting the saving with my cocktail, going right for these giant, tart but kind of sweet blackberries that I had bought on a whim from my favorite cherry stand.


And then I muddled them up, because muddling always makes drinks feel more festive and happy.  Yes, I used a blue Rolling Stones tongue glass as a shaker.  Because why not?  Mick Jagger makes me happy.  This happy hour was all about finding happy.

Finding sunshine.

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I added some gin, some of my lavender simple syrup (lavender again for the win!), and a little bit of bubble, then I threw a berry and a sprig of lavender on top.  By then, my drink was so pretty that I took it outside for it’s very own photo shoot.

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And I stuck a purple/blue party straw in there…

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Yep, this was definitely the cocktail to cheer up with.


Well, this cocktail, plus FaceTiming with the parents who were sitting on their screened-in porch during an actual rainstorm back home.


It was kind of nice to hear the rain behind them.  I forget how much I love a good rainstorm – literal or figurative.  The downpour brings growth, brings new life, brings the green to plants that grow delicious blackberries for cocktails…

And although the rain might just bring mud at first, things will dry up.  That sun is still out there somewhere.  It’ll be back.  We will work things out.

Until then, pour yourself something festive, muddle it, shake it up, and find yourself a party straw in whichever color you’d like.  Because nights at home being broke aren’t so bad when you have a lovely husband to make you dinner, a pup to give you kisses and cuddles, a fruity cocktail to keep you cool, and a million ideas and projects on the horizon to devote all of your energy into.

Thanks for being my rain boots, guys. 🙂


Blackberry Lavender Spritzer

2 oz gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
3/4 oz lavender simple syrup
3 large blackberries
2 oz soda water

In a shaker, muddle blackberries and lavender syrup together.  Add gin and fill shaker with ice, shaking to mix.  Pour into glass and top with soda water.  Garnish with whole berries or fresh lavender sprigs.

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Music To Cook (Jam) To: Rock and Roll

Music to cook to rock and roll

Well, hello June!

I was talking to a new friend at the market recently about how we never make new years resolutions.  Or if we do, we never keep them.  What a terrible time of year to start over!  It’s the middle of the winter, we are exhausted from holiday madness, and you kind of just want to hibernate and enjoy the cold weather. Doesn’t it seem like a funny tradition, resolving to become better, fitter, healthier people in the middle of sweatpants and hot cocoa weather?

Well apparently for me, springtime feels more natural.  The season of rebirth.  The season of growth.  The season of flowers and plants coming back to life…

The season before bikini season?

music to cook to: Rock and roll

Last year on May 6, I wrote down some serious goals for my music career.  I was going to give being a full time musician one last giant push.  And I’m happy to say that I accomplished so many of those goals.  I was really proud of myself and the way I threw myself into my passion just to see if it still fit.

music to cook to: Rock and roll

Turned out, I learned an incredible amount about myself in those months.  And after all was said and done, I ended up right where I belonged.  Which leads me to this spring, when I happened to also set some lofty goals for myself.  I have already accomplished some of them (redesign my blog! i think it looks better than ever!), and I have some big projects in the works that I can’t wait to get really moving so I can tell you all about them!

music to cook to: Rock and roll

Another “goal” I wanted to set for myself this year was to keep music as an important part of my life even if it was no longer my full-time focus.  I still write songs when they come to me.  I still pick up the guitar every now and then.  And I’m always looking out for new artists and new albums to soundtrack my life.

music to cook to: Rock and roll

Which brings me to today, when I wanted to share another list of music to cook to with you.  Because this little “Music to Cook To” series that I’ve started makes me so happy.  It combines two of my favorite things (no, mom, not schnitzels and noodles…), and it gives me an excuse to keep searching for new, fun music to share with you.

music to cook to: Rock and roll music to cook to: Rock and roll

Except today’s list started with some old favorites instead of new acts.  Mostly when Brad and I are cooking, we turn to songs we know all of the words to.  We turn to music that makes us feel good.  We turn to the bands and artists that we grew up listening to, who taught us about guitar solos and soul and the way a song was supposed to make you feel.  I turn to music that makes me move.

We turn to Rock and Roll.

music to cook to: Rock and roll

 (these are pictures of a delicious peach jam i made this week! i thought jam sounded like a musical term so… it works, right?)

Let’s get rocking…

Music To Cook To: Rock and Roll

The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
Gotta start with the Rolling Stones.  Not that I knew anything about Mick Jagger or Keith Richards before I met Brad.  I just knew the hits.  But a lot has changed since 2007, and now I get up and dance to their tunes just as much as a teenage girl in 1970.  Just a lot less screaming..

The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll
Another band that Brad got me into.  I didn’t used to appreciate singers unless they had trained, musical voices.  There’s just something about this song’s happy beat and Lou Reed’s talk/singing, that just makes me smile.  You just can’t help but start shaking to this fine, fine Velvet Underground music.

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
Listen, I still don’t really “get” David Bowie, but I think the man is crazy awesome.  This is one that’s on all the time while dinner’s getting ready.

T. Rex – Mambo Sun
Oh, T. Rex.  Yes, he’s known for Bang A Gong (Get it On), but no, we never have that one on rotation.  T.Rex provides all kinds of fun rock to cook to.

The Black Keys – Gold On The Ceiling
And now, of course on to something more modern.  We love The Black Keys.  I think this song was used for NBA finals commercials a few years ago.  If it doesn’t get you pumped up and dancing, there’s just no gold for you.  (i also like that there is a doubling on the chorus in my vocal range. i can actually sing along! nerdy musician moment…)

Dan Auerbach – My Last Mistake
Dan (half of the Black Keys) and his solo album are maybe even more soulful and blues-rock than his TBK stuff.  This is one of my favorite, fun, simple rock n roll songs.  Might be the “and you can be my queen, mama” part.

Hanni El Khatib – You Rascal You
I’m not going to lie.  This one was produced by Dan Auerbach.  Apparently I have a crush on anything the man touches.  But this is just such a dirty, gritty song full of crunchy guitar.  Any Hanni El Khatib song could fit in here, I just like this one the best.

Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
I liked the Arctic Monkey from their first few albums, but their release last year – AM – hooked me for sure.  I guess this is more indie-rock than rock and roll, but the guys have a song called Why You Only Call Me When You’re High?  Talk about a booty call.

Jack White – Sixteen Saltines
Can’t leave out Mr. Jack White.  This song is rock all the way.  When we saw him live, people were jumping all over the place during this song.  It’s perfect to get you moving in front of the stove, right?

So have fun rocking and jamming and cooking and doing whatever else you want to do to these tunes.  Mondays will now officially be dedicated to combining my love of music with my love of cooking, so look out for another Music To Cook To next Monday!

(you can check out the whole Music To Cook To playlist here on Spotify!)


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Front Yard Avocado Toast

Brad has a morning routine.

He hits snooze about a gazillion times, then he gets up, makes two scrambled eggs and coffee, takes a shower, and then gives me a kiss in bed before heading out the door.

My mornings are a little more flexible.

Usually I’ll roll out of bed as he leaves and get myself a bowl of yogurt.  Sometimes I’ll feel fancy and make oatmeal with walnuts and raisins.  Even less often I’ll go wild and make bacon grits or a fried egg sandwich.

But the other day I came back from a walk with Gibson and there was a lone avocado on the ground under our avocado tree.  It seemed ripe, although a little dented on one side from it’s fall.

Gibson was curious.  I was curious.

Gibson dog with front yard avocado

It’s become trendy to serve different kinds of toasts in restaurants now.  I had a whole argument/discussion with some friends while dining out recently about whether or not it is a valuable addition to a menu.  Personally, I think it’s nice to have just a little bite of something.  Especially if it’s an interesting combination and I just want to try it.  But am I going to order a whole lot of toast for dinner?  Probably not.

Would I eat toasts for breakfast, brunch or a mid-day snack?  Absolutely.

Avocado Toast

I went simple while trying out my front-yard avocado.  I toasted up some bread and just smeared it on.

Avocado Toast

Then I sprinkled on a little salt and chili flake to season it.  I know restaurants can get all fancy with their avocado toast combinations, but all little salt and a little spice is really all you need.

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Have I seen this being sold for $6 around Hollywood?  Yep.

Does it taste better while sitting around with my bed-head in my pajamas?  Oh yea.

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If you’re just rolling out of bed and enjoying a lazy Sunday, give this a try.  You’ll feel instantly hip.  And full.  And like your skin is glowing from all of the things in avocados that are so good for your skin.

That’s right, breakfast that makes you look good.


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