Saturday, June 29, 2013

Trader Joe's Trip

 Every time I go into a Trader Joe's I remember how much I love that place. Look at these gorgeous mini heirloom tomatoes...and check out that huge thing of organic basil. Everything is so fresh.
 It's like everything you love is in one place--you don't have to waste time walking around a huge grocery store passing tons of junk you don't want. 
 Have you tried these cookies? They are like Oreos, but much better. And they come in 3 flavors.
 Salted pistachios. Yummers. They have tons of nuts, dried fruits, seeds...healthy and good stuff at a reasonable price.
And voila. This is what I made--an easy caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic. Food that is quick and tastes good must start with good ingredients. Simple.
Oh yeah...almost forgot the real reason I went to TJ's...had to get this cheesecake for Salesi's birthday. Only $7!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I was craving chocolate cake but had no butter or eggs in the I decided to try an olive oil cake recipe that turned out really moist and delicious. (I also was lacking ingredients for the super yummy marscarpone filling and chocolate frosting--scroll down to see a mouthwatering pic--so I made my own chocolate glaze out of sugar, water, and unsweetened chocolate bars.)

Olive Oil Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of

3 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. With your mixer on low speed beat in the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the two 9″ prepared pans, coated with butter and dusted in flour or sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake. It should be firm to the touch, and a cake skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.
Put the cake pans on cooling racks and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.  Frost Between the cake layers and pour a generous amount of  the mocha glaze over the top of the cake allowing it to run down the sides.

1 cup mascarpone (or cream cheese)

1 cup heavy cream

½ Cup  Greek Yogurt

¼ Cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the frosting, combine the mascarpone, cream, Greek yogurt, sugar, salt, and vanilla  and beat on medium speed  until the mixture becomes thick, about 5 minutes

Mocha Glaze

2 tablespoons powdered instant espresso
1/4 cup boiling water

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 2/3 cups finely chopped dark chocolate
(Obviously you can omit the espresso and water if you don't drink coffee like myself.)

Stir together the instant espresso and boiling water until smooth. Set aside.
Combine the cream and the corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the espresso. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and let sit, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the sauce is very smooth.
Keep warm until ready to use, or let cool to room temperature and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Reheat chilled sauce over very low heat on the stove top or in the microwave until warm enough to pour easily.

And here's what the cake looks like with the marscapone filling...oooooh...can't wait to try it like this.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[Real Party] Visiting Teaching Interviews

You know me, just couldn't pass up an opportunity to make something cute (that would normally be kinda plain and ugly.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: La Grande Orange in Phoenix

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with Sea Salt: $2.50 (What a bargain!)
Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream: $4.50 (Yum, yum, yum!)

Name: La Grande Orange Grocery (Okay, so it's really a restaurant with a gift shop and a few grocery items.)
Location: SW Corner of 40th Street and Campbell (On 40th Street just north of Indian School Road in the Arcadia District of Phoenix)
Address: 4410 N. 40th St. Phoenix, Arizona, 85018
Phone Number: 602-840-7777
Hours: 6:30 AM to 10 PM Daily (Breakfast is served until 5 pm daily)
Known For: Breakfast, Pizza, oh and just about everything else!
Reservations: They do not take reservations. You order from the counter and seat yourself. Then at about 5 pm, if you so desire, you can sit in the main dining room/pizzeria and have a server.
Price: 7-8 dollars for breakfast, sandwiches, salads; 13-14 dollars for pizza; 2-5 dollars for cookies, desserts, gelato

Okay. I have been SO OBSESSED with this place! Yes. Ever since I first stepped foot in LGO almost a year ago I just can't get enough. No joke. I wish I lived closer so I could go more often. Okay, okay... so I only live 8 miles away... but it's in a totally different neighborhood than where I live and where I do pretty much everything else in my life...

Now you might think from the pictures that this is just another bakery. Well it is a bakery...AND a pizzeria...AND a super-duper-totally-awesome breakfast place...AND a great place for sandwiches and burgers...AND the best place for really healthy and really delicious salads and sushi. AND a really fun and casual hang-out place with a gift shop. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah--it also has good drinks, coffee, wine, cheese, AND gelato. (So ya all know that I don't drink coffee and wine but just wanted to let you know that they have that there.)

My favorite things to get (besides pretty much everything), include anything from the breakfast menu... the French Pancakes and the Croque Madame sandwich are extra good... and then I am completely enamored with their pizzas. Oh yeah. They start with a super thin and crunchy sourdough crust (made in house, of course), and top it with a variety of items including avocados, goat cheese, roasted corn, fresh mozzarella (also made in house), and so much more!

And then to finish everything off you will NOT want to miss out on their mouthwatering desserts. My fave is the chocolate pudding (shown above) and the key lime pie. Trust me--they are WAY bigger than they look! (I've never been able to eat one of their desserts in one sitting. I usually buy it to-go and eat it over a 2 day period.)

The best part?? This food is SOO reasonably price! Yes. I'm telling you. GO THERE! $7.00 for a REALLY amazing breakfast. I know. SO GO!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shrimp "Ceviche"

I love any kind of ceviche. Even if it isn't real ceviche. What do I mean? Well usually ceviche is made with raw fish or seafood that is cooked in lemon or lime juice. But when I make ceviche with shrimp I use cooked shrimp found in the freezer section. Super easy and tastes just as good. And the best thing about ceviche? You can change it up every time you make it so you will never get bored.

Shrimp Ceviche
Recipe by Kaci Uipi
(makes enough for 6-8 people as an appetizer)
20-30 pieces medium size shrimp, chopped in small pieces (I use 51-60 count that is cooked, peeled and deveined
found in a bag in the freezer section of any grocery store)
1 red bell pepper, minced 
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced
1/2 poblano chile, minced (or any kind chile you like...I like poblanos because they aren't that spicy)
1/4 red onion, minced
1 can (12 oz) tomato or clamato juice
juice from 2-3 limes
hot sauce, to taste
salt, to taste

Mix all the ingredients up in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips or on top of tostada shells.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Great Finds: Double Sided Frame For Only 99 Cents!

image via
TOLSBY Frame for 2 pictures IKEA You can display one picture on each side as the frame has no back panel.
I've been seeing this 4 x 6 frame everywhere lately...I mean every party that is. It works great for signs and food labels because it's the perfect size and DOUBLE SIDED.  Only problem is that I had no idea where to buy it...until now. I found out it's sold at IKEA. And even better--it's only 99 cents! Oh yeah and something else...ya know when you have that outdoor party and it's a little windy--well if you only had your signs in a frame they probably wouldn't blow away. (Now hopefully they have these in stock...)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Restaurant Review: Essence Bakery in Tempe

Name: Essence Bakery Cafe
Location: south east corner of Hardy and University Drive near ASU
Address: 825 West University Drive, Tempe, Arizona
Phone Number: 480-966-2745
Hours: Summer Hours are Tuesday-Saturday 7 AM to 3 PM and closed Sunday and Monday 
Known For: French Macaroons

Essence Bakery in Tempe is known mainly for their French Macaroons. And I have to say...they are pretty amazing. Today I tried the Hazelnut Macaroon. Last time I tried the Meyer Lemon Macaroon. Both very, very good. But today I couldn't just try one thing...I of course had to also buy this sugary brioche bun with caramel cream in the center...yum. 
They also have a breakfast and lunch menu including salads, sandwiches, quiche and tarts made with local produce. Their savory items run about $8.00. Macaroons are about $3.00. Other items like fresh fruit tarts and that sugary crusted caramel pastry I got today run around $5.00. I think the pastries are a little over priced, but then again I don't know of another bakery in my area that makes pastries like these. Do you?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

DIY Candy Bags

I LOVE making these little candy bags. Aren't they so sweet? These can simply be used as favors or as a way to arrange your candy on your buffet table... That way you don't have to worry about jars and scoops... The guests simply grab a little candy filled bag and start eating right out of it at the party.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

[$25 DIY Party] Cinco De Mayo Fiesta

I really love how this party turned out! This is exactly how I think a CINCO DE MAYO PARTY should look like--BRIGHT and COLORFUL! Of course, like always, these ideas can be used for a birthday party or other party as well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poached Eggs With Asparagus And Hollandaise

It's about time I make something a little more advanced, don't you think? This recipe is very Classical French. Make this as a breakfast with toast, or as a vegetable side dish for dinner. Make it with or without the poached egg. Hollandaise goes really well with asparagus and other bitter, green vegetables such as broccoli.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

[Real Party] Carnival Party

 Here's a carnival party I did for a boy turning 5. I went all out on this candy table. Boy was it a LOT of candy! I found a vintage gumball machine and use it as the centerpiece.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Decorating With Doilies: Part 3

Here's a couple more ways to decorate with doilies. For part 1 go HERE. For part 2 go HERE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salad Recipe: Marinated Tomatoes, Olives, Fresh Mozzarella and Arugula

Someone named "anonymous" just asked me to post the recipe for this salad...and I never turn down a request from a "fan", so here it is...

Marinated Tomato Salad
Yield: 10 Servings (as a side dish)

10 hot house tomatoes (on the vine), thinly sliced
1 small bag washed arugula
2 small containers fresh ciliegine mozzarella (little cherry size balls)
about 3/4 pound fresh olives, mixed variety
fresh chives, chopped fine (about 1/2 of what comes in the small plastic container)
fresh basil leaves, sliced thin (about 1 small plastic container or about 10 large leaves)
1-1 1/2 cup good variety extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup good variety balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Arrange all the tomato slices on the outside of a large round platter, overlapping as much as needed in order to fit on the platter. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the chives and basil. Next, border the tomato slices with all the little mozzarella balls. Season the cheese and tomatoes with salt and pepper, then drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Add the arugula in the center making sure you can still see the pretty tomato slices. (Oh, and make sure you don't place your tomato slices in the fridge! Buy them the day before and leave them out, then slice them right before you make the salad.) Finally, add the fresh olives to the very top. For the vinaigrette, whisk together 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the arugula when ready to serve. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

[Real Party] Wild Animal Party

 Here's a party I did this weekend for a boy turning 7. It was different than other parties because I wanted everything to be on black instead of the usual white. I made boxes out of plywood and painted them black. These boxes worked out perfectly to add height to the cake and platters. I made the backdrop with lots of strips of black taffeta. Everything was great at this party besides it being REALLY windy! As you can see, for this picture, I don't have all my food labels out except the 3 center ones because the wind kept blowing them over.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Decorating With Doilies: Part 2

Here's part 2 of my "decorating with doilies" posts. (Go HERE to see part 1.) I still have some other great ideas so make sure you come back to see everything! And be sure to become a follower on the right side of your monitor. (Yeah, over there, where it says FOLLOWERS. Click on "join this site"!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Decorating With Doilies: Part 1

Using doilies has got to be one of the cheapest, yet most elegant ways to decorate your parties. I bought a 32 pack of 8 inch doilies from my local dollar store.