Amazing Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I try to make gluten and dairy a “sometimes food.”  Eliminating gluten and dairy would be just about impossible, especially since I love butter and french bread.  I have lots of friends that have food allergies, especially with dairy and gluten.  So this is an extra special recipe just for those of us that need to be dairy and gluten conscious.

At least 6 months ago, I created a delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe and made the horrible mistake of not writing it down and forgetting the measurements of the ingredients.  That recipe was amazing, no one could tell they were gluten free, and everyone raved about how delicious they were.  One of the greatest regrets of my life.  Especially when I get constant requests for me to make them again.

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Paris Bakery in Monterey

Ever find something and immediately wish you had an excuse to get it or a place to put it?  For me, it’s usually silly little things like measuring cups, notepads and journals, candles, dessert plates, antique furniture, and sometimes chandeliers… I don’t know why the chandeliers, there is just something about them.

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While visiting Monterey this last December, I found the cutest cake that made me wish my nieces lived near me so I could order these for an adorable birthday celebration or a princess tea party.  They are aptly called Princess Cakes, and they are delicious!    These sweet little confections would make any party you throw for the little princesses in your life truly fit for miniature royalty.

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Paris Bakery’s Princess Cake is made with a layer of genoise, a thin layer of raspberry filling, topped with buttercream and fresh raspberries, and then covered with marzipan.  This Princess Cake will cure any sweet tooth and I’m certain kids will love it!  While I stared at this cake through the glass display case, it whispered back to me, “Aunt of the Year Award…pretty pretty princess tea party…so yummy…make it happen…”

Ideas for a Gathering of Friends

I can’t wait to host another dinner party for my friends.  I’m just dying to cook and eat again!!!  I think this post will offer some very simple and affordable ideas for your next dinner party.

Judy Baggett of Judy Baggett Interior Design hosts the best dinner parties you could imagine.  They always have a creative and inspired twist.  This dinner party was inspired by her recent trip to Maui.  Her signature punch fit in perfectly with her tropical theme, too.  This punch is always a huge hit at her parties.

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Healthy and Delicious Smoothies

I’ve finally come out of my cave to greet the world…or at least my kitchen.  Last Friday I volunteered myself for a tonsilectomy and have survived off of smoothies and water for the past five days.  The worst part about it is I torture myself by spending my days watching Chef Roble marathons and the Food Network.  Bobby Flay’s Barbeque Addiction has me chomping at the bit to get outdoors and barbeque.  Seriously, I really want to build a woodfire oven in my backyard, too.  My experience is similar to prison, except instead of carving tallies of the days on the wall, I’ve started a journal of everything I’m dying to cook and bake.  Oh dear, I hope I don’t miss out on all of the delicious food my mom will be cooking on Chinese New Year.  That’s got to be bad luck or something.

So about these healthy and delicious smoothies.  In the real world, when I don’t dread taking a sip of water, these smoothies are some of my favorite healthy breakfasts and desserts.  I bust these out when I need a healthy but sweet treat.  Check out my favorite Berry Banana Smoothie.

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Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

I have a hard time baking anything that comes from a package.  Perhaps, I’m too hard on myself, but I feel like it’s bootleg baking.  Also, hardly anything from a package tastes as good or better than anything made from scratch.  I get that not everyone has the time to create love from scratch, sometimes we have to create love from a box.  This recipe is for my girlfriends that are not into baking, but find themselves needing to contribute to bake sales, birthday parties, potlucks and other random baking obligations.  That’s where this recipe comes in.  It is scrumptious, will impress your friends, and will satisfy any chocolate craving.

Triple_Chocolate_Brownie_Cookies_recipeAnd to all the super moms out there that think they MUST bake something from scratch for the class birthday party or bake sale to maintain  #1 Mom status: It doesn’t make you a bad mother to a.) Buy cupcakes from the cute bakery in town, or b.) bake something from a box.  I promise!  Take the time you’ll save and grab an ice cream cone with your kid.  No guilt required!  You are an amazing, super women, and that won’t be undermined by this delicious and satisfying, super easy Tripe Chocolate Brownie Cookie recipe.  Also, no one will suspect this came from a box!  Your secret is safe with me. Continue reading

Patisserie Bechler

If you’re familiar with the Monterey area, I’m sure you’ve heard of Patisserie Bechler.  This place is owned by master pastry chef, Gérard Bechler.  Patisserie Bechler has been open almost 30 years, and they consider themselves the wedding cake experts, I think it goes without saying…  This cakes takes your breath away.  Doesn’t it look like a present you’d unwrap?Patisserie_Bechler_Monterey_California_Amazing_CakesThese ain’t yo mama’s birthday cakes.  I’m not even sure if I’d have the nerve to cut into one of these little lovelies.  Even better, these cakes are delicious.  Patisserie Bechler creates authentic French cakes and pastries.  None of that sugary, lackluster bootleg stuff. Continue reading

The Ramos House Cafe

One of my favorite restaurants in Orange County is The Ramos House Café.  It’s right in downtown San Juan Capistrano, very close to the train station.  It’s an amazing place to go for lunch on one of those perfect sunny afternoons in Southern California.  Order some lemonade and relax with friends in their patio under the huge Mulberry Tree.  There are so many amazing dishes here, and the menu is seasonal and sometimes changes daily. While you are there, pick up The Ramos House Cookbook written by the chef/owner, John Q. Humphreys.  It’s a beautiful book filled with the recipes of the dishes served in the restaurant.  I’m dying to try his recipe for his delectable biscuits.

My all time favorite dish at The Ramos House Café is their BLFGT (Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato) sandwich with sweet potato fries.  They weren’t serving it during my last visit, so I was forced to try another delicious dish.   What a blessing in disguise!  Instead, I had the Crab Hash served with bacon scrambled eggs over arugula and a sour cream remoulade.  Thin, crispy strips of sweet potatoes were piled on top which just sent this dish over the edge.

The_Ramos_House_Cafe_San_Juan_Capistrano_Crab_HashMy friend ordered the Mac and Cheese with wild mushrooms and truffle oil.  The Ramos House Mac and Cheese is a must!  Someone at your table has to order this, or order this for everyone to share.  It is spectacular and it changes frequently.  Sometimes it’s made with smoked veggies and a lemon gremolada, sometimes with applewood smoked bacon, or with smoked chicken and asparagus…  Whatever it is…get it!  You won’t be disappointed, promise!
The_Ramos_House_San_Juan_capistrano_Mac_and_Cheese_Wild_Mushrooms_Truffle_OilThe great thing about The Ramos House Café is that you’re always going to have the hardest time deciding what to order.  Everything on the menu sounds like exactly what you’re craving.  It’s delicious Southern inspired comfort food with a gourmet flair makes The Ramos House Café one of the best restaurants in Orange County.  A popular dish that I haven’t tried yet, but I always see a large number of people order while I’m there, is the Spicy Crab Cake Salad.  Another dish that I’m dying to try is their Duck Cakes, it’s served with baby spinach and a warm mustard dressing.

I wish I could have ordered more things so that you could see how amazing everything looks.  I’ll just have to update this post the next time I go.  They also have a great weekend brunch menu and tasting menus.  If you live in Orange County, or if you’re visiting Orange County, you MUST go to The Ramos House Café.  You will leave happy and planning your next visit.