to carla

In honor of the Top Chef finale Les, Jen and I got together for some dinner and viewing of our friends Stefan, Hosea, and Carla. I was in charge of dessert, so I found this to be yet another great reason to bust out my Domestic Goddess cookbook. The Night and Day cupcakes were not super sweet, which some people like, and a little dry. The frosting was nice and light despite the cream cheese. The real crowd pleaser was Leslie's pulled pork n biscuits. We pressed biscuits into muffin tins, scooped some pulled pork, onions, pickle, cheese, oven. wa-la. Another appearance on the blog from the kitchen of Leslie but I had to knowing CP and Kara would enjoy this recipe creation a lot.

Walnut Date Muffins

I made these muffins awhile ago on my new muffin pan kick and although not as sweet, light and fluffy as others, they represent well the hearty muffin that will get you through to lunch time.


Last stop was Matt's favorite- Opolo. We went into their barrel room and got to taste out of large vats. It was too sweet for my liking but apparently what they sell at Costco. Their take on pairing was with meat- lamb sausage and some other sausage form. They had a nice Malbec and Cab-Franc Merlot we liked. Really fun times and beautiful place.


Next stop, and my favorite was Jada. They sat us out on the porch for our very own wine cheese wine pairing. The wine was red, bold, buttery goodness and by this point in the day I do admit to leaning back in my chair and feeling very relaxed. The first wine was Hell's Kitchen which I did splurge on a bottle of- so so so tasty. I need a special occasion to pop that baby open. Jersey Girl was a hit and in light of that all the ladies got Jersey girl shirts we later wore. If I went back to Paso, I'd for sure want to go here again. If you ever see this on a wine list- drink up.

Dover Canyon Winery

Our next stop was getting us somewhere closer to better wine- Dover Canyon Winery. This place was great- they don't make much and we tasted in a small barrel room. The grounds were beautiful and their house was right next store. Sign me up for this life please. They had some great reds and a compelling story about Dover the dog, but since I don't care much for animals I didn't even read the tale. I would go back here as I loved that it was more personal and not a corporate place at all. Very kind and I'm sure always producing new, fun blends.

eagle castle

our next stop was eagle castle. this wasn't really by choice- more because the driver was somehow related to them so we had to go. it was entertaining in a disney kind of way- but not our favorite spot. there is a little castle, and then apparently the wife wanted a bigger one. i can just imagine the conversation- "honey i got an upgrade on my diamond now i want a bigger castle. more more more." bleh. we did enjoy sitting outside eating our picnic lunch and being able to be as increasingly loud as we desired which included a couple speaker phone calls to other members of the family.

who ever said california was always brown was silly

"Oh but Laura it's so brown..." I have heard this and will admit awhile ago I remember going up to the mountains and hearing my CA friends get excited over how pretty things were. I was confused as I looked at the brown dirt. Well, thanks to the rain we've been getting the hills were beautiful and the cows were happy! Favorite Cousins.

Harmony Cellars

Our first stop was Harmony Cellars, where my cousin works. He was more than excited to show us his place and explain to us a bit about wine making. The grounds were beautiful- very Ohio meets California which is why I love the central coast. We were the first ones there at about 10:30 and got to try their Petit Syrah with a chocolate pairing which was rather tasty. Over all this wasn't my most favorite wine of the day, but really pretty and a good Cab.

Wine Tur

We had a fabulous weekend in Paso Robles. I've decided to create a post for each winery we visited as they were all very unique and well, foodie friends tend to be winos as well so if you're close or ever out visiting, perhaps this will guide you and your wining ways. This pic was before lift off near our bus with license plate: Wine Tur. Stay tuned. Over all...I'd say we made out well. Hall-er.

feels like home to me

We all know I love where I live. CP took some awesome pics and highlighted her time here so well. This pic is care of her talents and puts in to perspective for me, yet again, how thankful I am to call this place home. Check out her posts on her time here since I was so lazy with the lack of photography. I am inspired though to take a lot of shots next time I'm at the market...


I'm stoked for the weekend in Paso with my favorite cousins, aunt, uncle, and friends. Thanks to Matt being Mr. Paso we'll be hitting up 5 wineries in style. This is keeping in sync with the past two weekends for me spent wine tasting in Santa Ynez at Firestone, Curtis, Roblar and Koehler. I'm excited to try out some new spots, see a new part of CA, and spend time with the fam. Hall-er.

banana blueberry muffins

I made these muffins last night and they were delicious. The recipe from Aug 05 Bon Appetit is a winner and as to be expected, I loved the new pan. Instead of the suggested oat bran I used ground flax meal although I'd encourage any branny, healthy, oat in here as it's only 1/4 cup and can't do much harm. I say make 'em and enjoy.

not your grandma's beef stroganoff

thankfully little violet hui (leslie's unborn child and not her real name) has been craving beef stronganoff so leslie made it for us last night. I don't think I've had beef stroganoff since my grandma made it for me, but who doesn't love egg noodles, beef, and a delicious sauce. I take no credit for this recipe but watched the magic happen as I sipped on the wine violet wouldn't let leslie have, and would definitiely recommend this recipe, and make it myself for company. the lemon juice at the end added a nice touch of acidity and she used red vino over brandy. all in all, delicious.

Muffin Love

Do you ever make muffins and wish they were just a tad bit bigger? If you're honest with yourself, you do. I finally used up a Christmas gift card care of T&K and got Williams-Sonoma Muffin pan and plan on delving in to make some healthy hearty recipes that will serve as a great breakfast on the go. Stay tuned- I plan on baking up a storm tonight to also serve as carbohydrates to sop up some of the vino I consume on Saturday while wine tasting in Paso Robles with friends and family. Really excited.

best news i've heard all day

there's no way this can go bad- it can only be great- it's going to make me want to grow chili's.

Brunswick Soup

We made this soup on Friday and it's lasted us through the weekend. The best part is the broth- a light tomato broth with a kick. There are lots of veggies and chicken for a light yet satisfying soup. The recipe calls for less liquid, but I wanted to have the recipe go a bit longer, so I added more water. This is a great base recipe and will show you just how easy it is to make soup.

chocolate espresso brownies

Knowing how much Ana likes the chocolate, I decided to make some brownies on Friday. They seemed to get better with time for me, but good and coffee-esque, though I probably wouldn't make them again and based on the amount of butter, I'm curious about what makes them light.Link

fresh, organic, free range, local chicken

Ana and I went to the Farmers Market Sat and picked up an organic free range chicken. Some lemons, rosemary and garlic with olive oil and kosher salt and we popped him in the over at 350 for about an hour to an hour and a half. The results were delicious and after our feast I made some chicken stock with the bones. Mine as well, right?


Celebrate Good Times, C'Mon

So as mentioned, I attended a Bridal Shower and Birthday Party. Both made me happy, yet again, to live in CA. The shower was at a beautiful home with orange trees and mountain and ocean views about every direction I looked, and the birthday cake had a picture of Chris's head on a surfboard with waves in the back. Enough said.

Quick Vegetarian Chili

Last week I went over to a friends to make this Quick Vegetarian Chili. It's beyond easy and rather healthy. The quick cooking barley was hard to find- after trying at two stores- so I used cous cous instead. It sopped up the juices a lot so more water was added. This is a good quick meal and appropriate for your veg friends.

keeping it local

This weekend was fun filled with CP in town. We followed the proposed itinerary for the most part with a birthday party in there, bridal shower- yay nicole and micah!- and unexpected, yet typical, Santa Barbara siting of Andrew Firestone on Friday night while we dined. Of course we went to Firestone vineyard the next day and enjoyed the rainy yet beautiful wine country and paradise I reside in. More pics to come when CP posts... hint hint.

Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake Squares

I made these the other night and thought they were going to be a flop. Well, they were not. The coconut is not overpowering at all, so if people complain about not wanting them because of that, they're silly. They're a bit time consuming but a fun adventure to embark on and come out looking pretty darn nice.

taste test

I re-made the Madeira Cake from Nigella and was happy yet again with this beautiful cake. It's got a great weight, easy, and well, I highly recommend it for tea time.

night ride

in light of seeing how good life is... last night i went for a night bike ride on an old school beach cruiser from my friends house to the store to get goods for dinner. feb 4th and here i am riding a bike in the warm evening time. life is good, as are cheap thrills.

Westmont Lemon Cake

Saturday after a game of tennis we picked some more oranges and lemons in the little orchard next to the courts. The lemons were more ripe this week and I was excited to use the fresh zest and make something delicious, like this recipe for Lemon Cake. I wish I knew what kind of lemons they were- maybe someday I'll find out. I made it last night and although delicious, I think it was best with a drizzle of lemon juice and confectioner sugar glaze. Next time I might take it out, poke some holes, and let the glaze seep through the cake as well.

A Preview

A dear friend from my DC days is headed west and here is a little preview of the coming weekends activities. Also this is why more of you should come visit me. I'm a good tour guide.

Proposed Itinerary for One Said Christy P., here on out labeled as CP, and One Said Laura Beth H., here on out labeled as LB

Friday February 6:
  • 3-4 PM: LB leaves work early and travels to LB to capture CP. (exact time TBD)
  • ETA 5:30.
  • They drive up Pacific Coast Hwy One and enjoy the daylight and sunset over the pacific ocean.
  • They decide if they would like to dine on the coast, though it may be dark and they may decide to get back to SB and go to Hungry Cat, Laura's favorite spot. The chefs claim to be from Chicagoland. CP and LB will mostly drink lots of wine and have lots of fun.

Saturday February 7:
  • CP and LB wake up at whatever time they like, thankyouverymuch.
  • They breakfast at D'Angelo (think european cafe) or Tupelo Junction (think texas with lots o delicious dish) or Jeannine's (think possible star siting like kelly kapowski) CP checks out the sites and chooses- after all Laura lives here and can go to these whenever she darn likes.
  • After breakfast they head down to the Farmers Market. It's wonderful and will inspire you. Maybe they pick up fresh flowers, cheese, bread, veggies, etc. to snack on for lunch or to bring with them wine tasting.
  • they walk around downtown and go into store like C'est Cheese and maybe even some chains if they so choose. They maybe go to the beach at this point too and walk along it.
  • Laura has a bridal shower to go to from 1-3. She plans on giving CP some CP time at the beach or the Mission.
  • Laura picks up CP and they head to Santa Ynez to go to a few wineries and go wine tasting. They cruse in Lexi and stop off at Firestone and several others.
  • They decide if they want to stay in Los Olivos and have dinner, or come back to SB. TBD.
  • They maybe go to a show downtown at a local venue. Laura kinda knows the drummer.
  • They have had a wonderful day.
Sunday Feb 8, 2009

CP has to catch a plane east and LB wakes up and drives her back down to LA. Alas. The two will see each other again. Most likely in Chicagoland.