Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

Whenever I need to treat myself (or friends) to a nice dinner, this is always the recipe I think of first.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s delicious and I love the coconut-lime combo.  Do yourself a flavor favor: grab the necessary ingredients and give this one a go for yourself.  You’ll thank me later!  Oh, and don’t forget to put on Harry Connick Jr.’s “A Wink and a Smile” while you’re prepping…it always puts me in a good mood!

Here’s the recipe (via Williams-Sonoma), and if you’re a coconut lover like me, I recommend sprinkling in a generous handful of shredded coconut to the cooked rice to give it even more of a coconut kick!  To round out the plate, we usually add a side of healthy black beans, which makes a great combo for a delectable day-after burrito (that’s if you’ve got any left over!).


What are your favorite go-to recipes?



Chocolate Rum Cake

If you come across Captain Jack Sparrow and he’s wondering where all the rum has gone, go ahead and let him know it’s in this here cake.   The first time I baked it was like taking a shot of rum with every bite I took.  Oddly enough, no one who ate it complained.  I like to think it’s because I found a seemingly acceptible way for alcohol consumption at all hours of the day.  I guess I should also inform you that I’ve previously made it acceptable to eat cake for breakfast (which, btw, how cute is this?), so clearly this is just natural progression.

My German-French friend Dona made this lovely cake and brought it to me at work and she claims to have followed the recipe but I swear hers didn’t taste like mine because I’m pretty sure I didn’t feel like I was consuming alcohol at work. I would remember that. My first go ’round the alcohol tasted more concentrated in the center – like it hadn’t baked out enough – but the second time the outer rim of the cake tasted more pronounced so I’m not quite sure.  If you’re worried, go easy on the booze.  If you really love rum, have at it.  Also, Dona says that this is the easiest cake ever and if you forget things like flour, it still turns out great.  German-French women are so chic.

French Chocolate Cake


2 cups Dark Chocolate Chips
8 oz. Salted Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
5 Eggs
1 cup Rum (I think I used Bacardi Gold…and one day I swear I’ll try Malibu because I love coconut)
1 tbs. Pico de Gallo (or espresso, or orange zest, or ground anise…whatever you’d like to compliment the chocolate)
1/2 cup Flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan, careful not to burn chocolate.
  3. Separate egg yolk from egg white.
  4. Beat egg whites with mixer until it becomes stiff (looking a little bit like snow).
  5. Beat egg yolks with sugar until it turns whitish and thickens.
  6. Combine chocolate and egg yolk until nicely mixed using a wooden spoon.
  7. Add rum, spice(s) and flour.
  8. Carefully fold egg whites in, trying not to flatten the egg whites by folding too long.
  9. In your cakepan of choice, bake for 20-30 minutes.
    -Cooking times may vary by oven – mine took a little over 25 minutes.
    -To check if ready, slide a knife in cake. Knife shoud come out still a little wet (looking like very moist crumbs) in order to maintain it’s rich, gooey texture.

Decoration (optional):

  1. Ganache — melt chocolate chips with heavy cream to taste.
  2. Grinded and roasted hazelnuts or pistachios, caramelized with sugar.  Dona roasts grinded nuts in a pan without any oil and when they start to smell roasted and look darker, she adds sugar to make an “amateur prailine.”
  3. Be awesome like Dona and grow beautiful flowers in your garden to adorn your lovely French cakes with alcohol in them.

Have you ever made a cake with alcohol?

Gift Idea: Monthly Deliveries

yuzen box.jpg

my first Yuzen box delivery – such a joy to open!

Wouldn’t it be grand to have the feeling you do while opening presents on Christmas morning every month? I think so, and it’s a bit of how I felt each of the three times I came home to discover a Yuzen package waiting for me at my door (read my experience here).  If you can’t quite decide what to get someone or feel like you’re running out of time, here is a roundup of monthly subscription services I’ve come across recently, which, along with Yuzen, would make for fabulous gifts beyond Christmas morning for just about everyone on your list.

For the Crafter: Whimsey 3 months $45 | 6 months $90 | 1 year $165

For the Creative: Creative Bug 1 month $24.99 | 3 months $59.97 | 6 months $101.94

For the Beauty Queen (or King): Birchbox 3 months $30 | 6 months $60 | 1 year $110

For Bob-the-Builder (or anyone of any name): Lego Master Builder Academy $29.99+

For the kids: Kiwi Crate 3 months $59 | 6 months $110 | 1 year $220

For the well accessorized: JewelMint (tailored to an individual’s personal taste, so gift cards are the way to go so they can use credits to pick their selections each month) 1 credit $29.99 | 2 credits $59.98 | 3 credits $89.97

For the shoe-obsessed: Shoe Dazzle (gift cards allow individuals to choose their style selections each month) $25+

For the burly man: Dollar Shave Club from $1/month

For the foodie + music lover: Turntable Kitchen 1 month $27.12 5 | 3 months $81.36

For your caffriend: Craft Coffee monthly $24.99 | 6 months $22.49/mo | Annual $19.99/mo (save 10% when you pay in full up front)

For your furbaby: Bark Box 1 month $29 | 3 months $22/mo | 6 months $17.50/mo

For the snail mail lover: Tota Press, a delivery of 2 letterpress cards for $10/month. (found via Daily Candy, which has great gift guides for all the people and critters in your life).

Happy gift giving! 

Do you subscribe to a monthly delivery service or have you ever been gifted one you loved?

Gift Idea: Stocking Stuffers

For those who like to try new beauty products:

left to right:
The Lip Slip by Sara Happ — I first found out about this little treasure pot via Daily Candy (I think. They’ve got great gift roundups and product highlights so check ’em out when you can) and ordered through Bath & Body Works, however they no longer carry it. Not to worry, though, because many more have caught onto its wonderfulness — you can order via Nordstrom or Beauty Sage and other online beauty shops too.  Plus, it comes in a super chic little box! Be sure to check out the convenient new tube which I’m dying to try! $18-24

Ambre Blends a little sampler pack of all four essences is only $9.  If you want something a bit more substantial, I love the Solace Essence as it has a vanilla note to it and Mumbles prefers the original Ambre (for himself). $44 for 10ml roll-on pure essence oil.

Makeup Remover Face Wipes — I came across these Preserve Skin Care Wipes and you can snag them online from Anthropologie ($38 for 45 pads), one of my favorite bloggers recommends these Say Yes to Cucumber Face Wipes ($5.99 for 30 wipes), and I recently picked these up from Whole Foods.  A simple, thoughtful gift for a beauty product/makeup lover.

For the iphone user:

left to right:
iTunes gift card — this is the perfect, thoughtful gift to swoop in with if you know someone else is hefting a larger bill to gift another someone you love an Apple product.  This way they can dive right into downloading music and apps on Christmas morning! Like when you were a kid and you got a new toy but no one thought to have batteries on hand?  Yeah, go for it. Save the day! It’s also great for music lovers, movie lovers, and the all-around Apple dependent.

Earbud Headphones — Mumbles is always misplacing his headphones so he uses mine and I fret that he’ll lose mine too so the gift that ultimately benefits me (the best kind!) for Mumbles is a masculine wood pair like these.  I picked some up whilst in the checkout line at Home Goods recently for like $12.

Tortoiseshell Case for iPhone — this one’s finally back in stock and had been on my wish list for months because it’s a pretty penny at $40 for a phone case.  But since I’ve been coveting it for so long, I used a Cyber Monday code and shipped it to my mom so she could gift it to me. She’s super thoughtful like that. Here are some other ideas for iphone cases.

For the foodie:

Crack Caramels — the packaging and cheeky descriptions alone make me want to bite into these delicious-looking small-batch caramels. Order by noon Wednesday for overnight shipping by Friday.  $12-55

Bacon Mayonnaise by Empire Mayonnaise is a great gift for a guy who likes to barbecue and anyone who likes Bacon. Which is a lot of people.  $9 for a 4oz jar.

Hazelnut Whisky Cookies — I saw these on the Creature Comforts Holiday Gift Guide: Tasty roundup and seeing as these are the Editor’s Pick, I’m sure they’re just as delicious as they sound. $9.50 for six.

A can of Sofia Sparkling Wine – so pretty it doesnt need wrapping and even comes with a straw so if you put it on top the recipient can sip and savor while opening each gift!

Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s might seem like a random (and heavy) gift…but it’s worth it.  While you’re at it, throw in a spoon so the lucky recipient can dig right in! (not pictured)

For anyone:

I always have a little journal in my purse in case an idea for a blog post or craft pops into my head.  This Lies I Told and Liked Journal by Archie Grand is the one I’d like next and I also wouldn’t mind one of the Spies I Met and Liked Journals to fulfil my dream of being a Bond girl. $11 each

K. Hall Designs Milk Hand & Body Cream — this soothing scent of vanilla, cream and coconut is soft and cozy. $20

Archipelago Fiji tin candle — smells like vacation! $7.50

SwissCard Pocket Knife — I have this handy, credit-card sized Swiss Army knife and it’s super convenient to keep in your wallet or purse so you always have little things you may need like scissors or a nail file without taking up lots of space or being so small you can never find it in your bag. (Just don’t forget these aren’t allowed as carry-ons on a plane…yeah…oops.) They come in red, pink, black or blue. $35

Do you have any great stocking stuffer gift ideas?

Baking With No Eggs

20121023-122512.jpgHave you ever really been craving pumpkin bread (me, on Sunday) or brownies (Mumbles, last night) and gather all of the ingredients to start making your desired delectible treat only to discover you don’t have eggs? Blast! What to do, what to do?

Last year when Mumbles and I moved to our first home and were making daily trips to various Home Depot and Lowe’s stores around Orange County we popped into Sprouts on occasion (there wasn’t one near us at the time) and stocked up on some good staples and goods we wanted to try. I nabbed a few different types of oils (coconut, walnut, grapeseed) and flours including blanched almond and coconut, along with flaxseed meal to try out some of the gluten-free recipes from Elana’s Pantry and just to experiment in the kitchen. (note: Elana’s Pantry recommends not to use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour – read more here)

After a few scoops into the flaxseed meal, I noticed a little note on the side of the packaging that suggested flaxseed meal as a great subsitute for egg. Well, what do you know! (did you know that? I didn’t know that!)

For one egg, mix 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water and let sit for a few minutes before adding into the recipe just like you would an egg.

There are, of course, some recipes where you simply can’t substitute an egg (say for example, the delicious chocolate rum cake recipe from my French/German friend, Dona – recipe coming soon, promise!). But, I tucked away that little nugget of knowledge to save for an eggless day, which has been used many-a-time and twice this week alone!

I made the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s on Sunday when we hosted Mumbles’ family for an afternoon barbeque dinner and I didn’t tell anyone I did anything sneaky like not using eggs and they raved about the loaf. Then, last night, Mumbles was desperately craving brownies. Feeling a little guilty for having still not yet been to the grocery store for milk and eggs, I decided to try the little flaxseed meal trick – which henceforth should be called “the craving saver” or something truly heroic because it is. The brownies didn’t bake up nice and fluffy like they usually do with eggs, but lucky for us we like our brownies gooey and fudgy but also a bit crispy (I love the edges and should probably get that thingamajig that you pop into the pan to make all the pieces edges…gosh, what will they think of next, right?!). The brownies almost had a carmelized flavor to them so they might not have been fantastic for a dinner party because they wouldn’t make for pretty presentation but they were perfect to spoon hot out of the oven and straight into a bowl with ice cream. And straight from said spoon into my waiting mouth.

Have you used this little trick?  Any other nifty substitutes to share?


water mixed with flaxseed meal is a handy egg substitute

Pumpkin Season

Trader Joe’s is my favorite place to shop. I’ve never purchased anything there that I’ve been disappointed with (save for some concern regarding that peanut butter salmonella outbreak – but I will say they handled that gracefully, honestly, and with care for their customers) which makes discovering new items easy and fun. For example: the chicken tikka samosas and mango ginger chutney I brought home this week following an in-store sample from a friendly young bloke. Mumbles and I devoured 2/3 of the pack for dinner. Scrumptious! I guess I should say that I’m a little biased perhaps because my brother-in-law (let’s call him Trader Jim, shall we?) and niece both work there so our family gatherings always include our favorite TJ’s finds. Mumbles and I even used the Asti from Trader Joe’s in lieu of champagne for our wedding! It’s my favorite – sweet like moscato but not too sweet and bubbly like champagne but not dry and more forgiving in the drink-too-much-and-suffer-the-headache-later department, plus it’s only $5.99 a bottle (but don’t go around telling everyone)! I always keep a few bottles on hand to give as celebration gifts or to pop one open on special occasions.

20121022-101332.jpgThanks for staying with me whilst I rambled on about my love of all things Trader Joe’s. ‘Tis the season of the pumpkin and I brought home a gaggle of pumpkin-flavored goods last week, purchasing double to use as gifts for some special occasions. So far, I’ve made a batch of the pumpkin loaf (substituting flaxseed meal for the two eggs because I didn’t have any – flaxseed meal is such a handy thing to keep in the cupboard for just such cases!) and indulged in the pumpkin spice roobois tea and the pumpkin spice latte. I have yet to try the pumpkin butter but if it’s anything like the fig butter I’ll be in heaven. The fig butter on toast with goat cheese is one of my most favorite snacks! The pumpkin butter is going to get its debut on some pancakes here pretty soon, I’m sure. Sounds divine!

What are your favorite pumpkin flavored finds?

What’s for dinner: Stuffed Artichokes

Okay, not quite dinner, I know (although I could eat these stuffed artichokes until I’m downright stuffed myself). I found this lovely little recipe and video how-to on Daily Candy about a year ago and have been making it for quiet nights in and dinner parties to rave reviews every time.

The recipe instructs that you cut off the top of the artichoke and the stem so that it can sit flat.


I use kitchen scissors to snip off all the pointy leaf tips then open up the artichoke so it looks like a pretty ranunculus flower.

Then, create a simple little mixture of Parmesan, oregano, bread crumbs (I usually just crumble up crackers or wheat thins – whatever I have on hand), and garlic salt to taste.

Spoon the dry mixture into each little leaf so that later there’s a tasty nugget on each of the leaves when you pull it off. Add some garlic to the center and then place the artichokes in a pot or deep pan with a half inch of water in the bottom. Drizzle a little olive oil over the artichokes, turn the stove to medium heat and steam them for about 40 minutes.

When they are done the leaves will be easy to pull off and it’ll smell crazy delicious. Be careful, though, because it stays hot and steamy for a while.


Never eaten an artichoke like this? Pull an individual leaf and hold it with your fingers by the tip. Put the bottom in your mouth and slide it through your teeth to get the meat of the artichoke and cheesy goodness. If you’re entertaining, don’t forget to leave out a plate or bowl for guests to discard their scraped-off leaves (kinda like the already-sucked-out-shells of edamame).  On the other hand, if you’re at home in front of the couch, just chuck ’em back onto the plate when you go back for the next one!