Category Archives: eat & drink

Rainy Days, Bloggers and Cupcakes Always Make Me Smile


Sitting in my coastal vacation cabin on a rainy day, I’m reminded of what a fun time I had last weekend in the rain.  Let’s face it, on most rainy days, you don’t want to leave the house.  But for cupcakes, seventeen bloggers will brave the rain!  Even better knowing that it’s a Best of Tour and that we’ll be chauffeured around in the rain from cupcake shop to cupcake shop thanks to the good folks at Chevy GM and Best of Tours.

The Best of Tours are new concept with Chevy and General Motors.  It’s a way for consumers (or in this case, cupcake fans) to get out and not only try our the 2010 Equinox and Camaro, but to also try out their favorite food stuffs.  Prior to our cupcake tour, they were on the USC campus taking college students to various fast food restaurants during study breaks.

I’ll admit it, I might be a Jersey girl, but I’m not a girl that loves cars…even if they are Transformer-edition Camaros (though it did look hot!).  I’m more about luxury so I was sticking to the Equinox.  I must say, it was a perfect ride for a rainy day, very smooth, very comfortable, and a great sound system.  It comfortably fit five (including the driver) and that was all that mattered to me. 😉

group bestoftours

To be honest, I’m not even sure where to begin.  So I guess I’ll play the obvious card here and begin at the beginning.

First stop…Crumbs Bake Shop.  I have to say, up until this point, I pretty much wrote Crumbs off.  I’d been to both the Beverly Hills location and the Glendale location a couple times and each time, I was less than impressed.  This visit changed all that for me.  I have to say, Crumbs will now be my go to cupcake shop. I think tasting fresh cupcakes at the beginning of the day vs. tasting cupcakes at the end of the day might have something to do with it.

We were treated the best out of all four shops here.  It all started with our own personal greeting by the west coast partner, Harley Bauer.  Nothing makes you feel as welcome as entering en masse into a shop and having the owner walk out loaded down with bags of cupcake goodness.  He invited us to help ourselves and reminded us that if there was anything else we wanted to taste to just let him know and he’d set us up.  I tried the chocolate pecan pie and fell instantly in love.  I’ve never been one to say that something is too rich, but wow, this was rich (but in a good way, of course!).


I also wanted to try the winter flavor, White Hot Chocolate.  I’m not really a fan of white chocolate (I just can’t get over the fact that it’s not real chocolate), but it looked amazing.  I was lucky enough to mooch a small taste from one of the gals and was quite impressed.  Before passing us on to the next shop on the tour, Harley gave  us all bags to store our leftover cupcakes and sent us on our way back into the rain with hot coffee (or water).  Smart move and very, very much appreciated.


Next up…it was a quick walk to Sprinkles.  These guys pretty much started the cupcake craze here in LA, but it was my least favorite of the bunch.   It probably didn’t help to sway me by offering up their most boring traditional flavors: chocolate, vanilla and red velvet.   The good thing about Sprinkles is that they’re predictable and you always know you’ll get a good cupcake. But with most of my friends, we’ve pretty much decided it’s just not worth the hype.  It didn’t help that we had to taste our cupcakes curbside in everyone’s way (then again, their space is so small, there wasn’t room for us inside anyway).


From there, it was back into the fabulous Equinox to head over to SusieCakes. At this point, I just wasn’t feeling trying to eat another cupcake standing up.  I also thought that since I was bringing leftover cupcake goodness home, that the least I could do was bring home something for the hubs. So I picked up a lemon cupcake* for him.  I didn’t find out until later (lack of research on my part, I know) that SusieCakes’ strawberry cupcake is known as being Martha Stewart’s favorite cupcake.  If I’d known, I would have definitely tried that.  Lucky for me, Tara let me have a taste of the strawberry frosting and wow, it was good!

The last stop…Vanilla Bake Shop.  I wasn’t so impressed with this location.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m now used to so many flavors and choices (like with Crumbs and Sprinkles).  This time around again, I decided to pick something up for my husband and again went with the lemon flavored cupcake.  I loved it and thought it was very tasty.  Quite a few folks in the group were turned off by the raw sugar sprinkling and passed to try the key lime cupcake instead (later to write it off as horribly dry and lackluster).  I liked the crunch of the sugar (my husband, on the other hand, did not).

Management was also a little grumpy about photos (and samples…duh, we didn’t expect any samples and who would???) so I don’t have any photos from here. H.C. of LA/OC Foodventures took a photo of his chocolate cupcake in the bathroom (photo here).  Point taken, I’d say.

Then it was back into the rain to hop into the Equinox one last time to head back to the Pacific Design Center to head back home.  We were told to try the Onstar button for turn by turn navigation, but it wasn’t activated in the car we were in.  Like any good hostess, Tara wouldn’t let anyone go before we got a cupcake-inspired goody bag chock full of cupcake stickers and lip gloss, a stylish InStyle book (which I love more than you can imagine being someone without style), and the coolest thing to ever find in a swag bag..a Tiffany keychain with the GM logo.  Yes, I said TIFFANY!!!

Overall, it was an awesome way to spend a rainy day.  Keep your eyes open for more Best of Tours in your neck of the woods.  Better yet, just follow along on Twitter.

*Of the two lemon cupcakes I brought back for him, this was his favorite.

Other posts about the event:

Happy Go Marni: Scavenging Los Angeles Cupcakeries in Chevy Camaro and Equinox with Best of Tours
LAist: Tuesday is National Cupcake Day. So Who Has the Best?
LA/OC Foodventures: Special Foodventures #147: Thankfulness for Cupcake Tour around L.A.
Let Me Eat Cake: Cupcake Coma
Tara met Blog: Best of LA Cupcakes Tour with Chevy’s Inside Line Straightline blog: Chevrolet Goes on Cupcake Tour in L.A.
Caroline on Crack: Best of L.A. Cupcakes Tour With Bloggers and Chevy
Pretty Sandy Feet: Cupcakes and Wedding Dresses

For additional photos from the event, check out TaraMetBlog and LA/OC Foorventures’ Flickr sets.

I only had my iphone with me, so all photos are courtesy of TaraMetBlog.

Winter Holiday Latte Recipes from Got Milk?

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at 11.18.44 AM

8 oz. milk
2 tbsp. powdered non-dairy creamer
3 tbsp. powdered chocolate (If you don’t have powdered chocolate, you can make your own by combining 2 parts sugar to one part cocoa powder)
16 oz. ice
To finish: whipped cream and sprinkles


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at 11.27.54 AM

6 oz. milk
6 oz. eggnog (store bought works fine)
2 oz. espresso or strong brewed coffee


Warm milk and eggnog together by either steaming or warming on stove. Put espresso at bottom of cup and top with eggnog mixture. Enjoy!

Screen shot 2009-12-16 at 11.34.32 AMINGREDIENTS:

8 oz. milk
2 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. fresh espresso or strong brewed coffee
4 oz. heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
To finish: whipped cream and maraschino cherry


Combine whipping cream and powdered sugar and whip until forms stiff peaks. In a mug, combine freshly brewed espresso and sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Steam milk and pour on espresso. Top with a scoop of fresh whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.

For additional recipes check out the Got Milk? recipe page.

Recipes provided by Got Milk? and Heather Perry

More Trader Joe’s Love: A Recipe

I know, I know, I only just went on and on about Trader Joe’s and my new I ♥ Trader Joe’s cookbook the other day.  But I’m telling you, it’s some good stuff.

We had book club earlier today and I made a super quick and easy pear and brie galette and it was a big hit!  And considering it only required four ingredients I thought I’d share in case you’re looking for something super yummy, super easy and well, impressive looking for an upcoming holiday event.

1 Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust (thawed)
4 ounces of brie, rind removed and cubed (I went a little overboard here, but it was still good)
1 pear thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used the sugared ones since it was a smaller package)
freshly ground pepper (which I forgot)

Preheat the oven to 375.  Scatter half the brie in the center.  Top with sliced pears.  Top that with the remaining brie cubes.  Sprinkle with the pecans.  Fold in the edges to “frame” it.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

That’s it.  Your friends and family will love it and think you slaved away for hours on something that took mere minutes to assemble.


Raise Your Hand If You Love Trader Joe’s

I mentioned the other day that I seem to have a bit of a control issue when it comes to magazines and the winter holiday season.  I think that it’s the part cookbook and part gift guide that attracts me so.  I’ve also mentioned my love of cookbooks in the past.

This week, my two loves have joined together. Squee!!

While working on the upcoming holiday gift guides for ConstantChatter, I was offerred a review copy of the I ♥ Trader Joe’s Cookbook.  And let me tell you, as much as I love Trader Joe’s (and I do love Trader Joe’s) I think this cookbook is going to make me love Trader Joe’s even more.  Just giving it a quick looksee, I found something to make for book club on Sunday (pear and brie gallette), something to make for our Thanksgiving side dish (but first I need to pick one of many), and an easy soup that sounds so yummy.  Good stuff I’m telling ya.

My Local Trader Joe's

And if you too love Trader Joe’s, I’d also suggest that you check out the gals behind Cooking With Trader Joe’s.  They have a blog, a Facebook fan page, a newsletter and their Twitter feed.  And all chock full of yummy recipes.  Check out this yummy pumpkin oatmeal recipe.

What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product or recipe?

My Favorite Part of the Winter Holiday Season…


Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bars and peppermint mochas.  Booyah!

Now if only we could get Starbucks to make the dark cherry mocha I had in Dublin last year available here.  Man, that was good.


If you want to try making the cranberry bliss bars yourself, there are plenty of copycat recipes online (here’s one here).  I haven’t tried it yet, but this year just might be the year.

Giveaway: $60 FREE food at Your Favorite NORMS


NORMS is turning 60 this year!

And to celebrate, they’re giving away $60 worth of food to one lucky My LA Blog reader.

That’s a whole lotta late night grub!!

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win!!

So here’s the deal…stop by the NORMS of your choice between now and Wednesday, November 25th (the day before Thanksgiving) and take a photo (or video) of yourself, your friends, your family, your food, your waitress, your receipt, you name it…just let us see that it’s at NORMS and leave me the link to your photo here in the comments and you’re entered. No purchase necessary.

UPDATE: if that all sounds like too much work and you just don’t have the time to swing by NORMS any time soon (I know just how crazy pre-holiday season can be), just leave a comment tell me why you enjoy NORMS or what your favorite thing to order might be. We’re easy like that.

After Thanksgiving, I will use everyone’s favorite, handy dandy integer generator and pick a winner. That lucky winner will win $60 worth of free food at the NORMS of their choice.

And if you tweet about this contest or post it on your Facebook page or become a NORMS fan on Facebook, I’ll even throw in an extra chance to win. Just be sure to send me a screen cap or link to the tweet – each extra counts as one extra chance, so be sure to post them all individually in separate comments.

Disclosure Policy

OMG! I Think I Want to Take These Classes!


I first noticed these baking classes back in May or so.  At that time, I couldn’t even consider baking in our apartment (or any time between April and October due to the crazy heat and lousy air conditioning). But i kept their info close by because it all just all sounds SO DARN GOOD!

Bread Baking Classes at Gourmandise Desserts

An intensive bread series that would include sweets, savories and breakfast favorites. The three-part series can be broken up, but we would love to see you master all three!

Bread Series 1: Yeast Breads
Yeast breads are simple once you learn how to make a quick starter! You will make Sticky Buns, Quick Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls from one dough and both Sweet and Chocolate Brioches from another. Quick Yeast Bread Base, Brioches Dough, Apple Pecan Sticky Bun Filling, Caramel Glaze, Cinnamon Raisin Filling, Cream Cheese Glaze, Buttery Brioches- and more!

Bread Series 2: Quick Breads and Muffins
Warm muffins and tea loaves are such a special treat- but so often turn out dense or dry. Well fear no more! You’ll not only learn how to perfect your muffin batter, but you’ll make recipes that are easy to make in just a few minutes. Tea loaves and quick breads are great for any meal; we love them both sweet and savory, and always make a few more than we need! (And who doesn’t love eating veggies for breakfast)??!

Bread Series 3: Savory Breads
The Bread Series ends with a savory note; this class is sure to please! You will make three very different bases and work with many delicious combinations of herbs, spices and cheeses to make these delicacies pop. Vegetarian Gougere, Cured Ham and Cheese Gougere, Fresh and Easy Pizza Dough Tomato Foccacia Bread, OliveBread, Parmesan-crusted Rolls

Classes take place at Gourmandise at the St Joseph Center 204 Hampton Drive, Venice CA 90291

If you want to learn more, check out their site and maybe I’ll see you there!!

It’s That Time of Year Again

And no, I’m not talking Christmas.  Nope, I’m talking cooking! Winter cooking (you know, the only time I can actually cook).

Better still, holiday cooking.


Any other time of the year, I can walk away from magazine; cooking, entertaining, decorating, womens, you name it.  But as soon as the “holiday” features start to show up on the covers, they go home with me.

Then I read them.  Devour what they have to say.  Oooh and ahhh over the recipes and photos.

And sadly, never cook or bake a damn thing from them.


It’s too much to make for just the two of us and my inlaws won’t eat anything they’ve never eaten before.  So there’s no one to cook it for.

Of course that won’t stop me from buying a few more magazines before the year is over.  What can I say, it’s a weakness.  Thankfully, it’s not a terribly expensive weakness and it only happens once a year.

What’s your holiday-related weakness?