Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Yema {Crunchy Caramel, Gooey Custard Treats}

Yema are luscious little Filipino candies with a creamy custard center covered in a thin crunchy caramel shell. I made 20 or so for a party tomorrow and I've already eaten 6...oops. I would best describe them as baby crème brûlée with a slightly denser custard. These decadent treats will melt in your mouth and be gone before you know it! 


10 egg yolks
1 (14 ounces) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice

1 cup sugar

Tips & Utensils
*Coat your fork with canola oil to prevent caramel from sticking when retrieving the custard ball.
* Freezing the egg yolk mixture will make it easier to shape. If you don't want to wait, you can put a little bit of cooking oil on your hands to prevent the mixture from sticking.


1.In medium sized bowl, combine egg yolks, condensed milk, zest and lemon juice. Whisk together until thoroughly combined.

2.In a non-stick pan over low heat, pour the egg yolk mixture. Use a heat resistant spatula to stir the mixture until thick enough to hold shape. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of pan to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Stir mixture until lumps have smoothed. cool. Shape into 1-inch balls.

3.In a pan over medium heat, add sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent the sugar from burning. Sugar will start to melt, clump and then liquefy. Remove from heat when the sugar has caramelized and the crystalized lumps are gone.

4.Tricky part! Carefully drop custard balls one at a time into the caramel pan, turning gently with an oil-coated fork. As you can see...I haven't mastered this part yet ;). You'll want to achieve an even and complete coat of caramel around the ball. Remove the caramel coated yema with forks and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Allow to cool and wrap them individually in cellophane.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Countdown to the Virgin Islands!

In about two weeks Dan and I are hopping on a plane to meet up with some friends in the Virgin Islands! Whattt!!!? Yeah I know...I can hardly believe it myself. We have been counting down the days! A few months ago our friend Evan asked us if we wanted to sail around the islands (US and British). "Who us!? Ummmm heck YES!" Although we aren't much of what you would call sailors...no problema, Evan is a merchant marine and sails/drives huge boats for a living. So we are in good hands. His family happened to have boat credit in the islands and they didn't want to use it, so Evan and his lovely wife Miss Monica invited us on the trip of a lifetime! We get to sail our own private 5 stateroom catamaran! We are beyond excited and so stoked that they invited us! We'll be spending 7 days or so on the sea with some of our best buds -- floating in my doughnut and sippin on island drinks. Oh this is going to be a very Merry start to our Christmas season!

Below are a few pictures I've been collecting to get me amped for our adventure :)

Pictures: Virgin Island, Bar and Drink, Dock, Photographer and Island, Baths and Fire, Starfish, Swimsuits and Boat, Hammock and Lobster, Pineapples, Cozy Boat and Friends

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tarte Tatin in Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce {French Caramel Apple Tart)

Tarte Tatin, the famed French caramel apple tart is a classic. No matter how perfect or imperfect it looks on the plate, a tarte tatin will taste heavenly. Pastry dough is placed over the top of caramelized apples and then baked in the oven. The tart is then inverted to reveal the buttery caramel soaked apples in all their glory. It is especially delicious served with scoops of ice cream or my vanilla bean custard sauce.

Tarte Tatin

10 green apples (peeled) 
1 9-inch pie crust dough (or store bought if you’re lazy like me) 
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)

Peel, cut (in half) and core apples. Set aside.

In a 9-inch saucepan (with metal handle), melt butter and stir in sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. The sugar will melt and start to form a caramel sauce. It’s OK if there is a layer of butter floating on top. Don’t worry – it's not a dig deal.

Once the caramel has turned a light brown color, lower the flame to a simmer and carefully place all the apples in the saucepan. Make sure to evenly coat the apples with the caramel. Let the apples simmer for 10 minutes or so – stir occasionally.

Fun part. Use two forks to stack the apples on their sides (as if they were piggy backing each other – see picture). Make sure to fill your entire pan. Place a few apples in the center to fill the hole.

Place the 9 inch pie crust over the top of the apples and tuck the edges in.

Place in a 400 degree oven on the top rack and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Be sure to place a tray on the rack below to catch any juices that may boil over.

Take the tarte tatin out of the oven and wait for it to cool before flipping. Place a plate over the top of the saucepan and flip it quickly to avoid any sugary juices from dripping out. 

Drizzle with vanilla bean custard sauce.

While the tart is cooling, you can prepare the custard sauce.

Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce

2 cups whipping cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar

Place whipping cream in a saucepan. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.  Bring cream to simmer. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl to blend. Whisk in hot cream. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens. About 5 minutes.  Do not boil or scald the sauce. Cover and refrigerate custard sauce until cold, about 3 hours.
(This can be prepared 1 day ahead if desired. Keep refrigerated.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

16 Reasons Why I Love Fall

I absolutely love fall. I would have to say it's my favorite season. I just swoon over the bright colors and cool nights. I am thrilled by the thought of snuggling up in bed with a cup of coffee, the smell of spiced cider and weekends at the cabin...gawwwww I love fall. Here are all the reasons why it's a fantastic season!

Cooler Weather
By mid to late summer I am praying for cooler weather. Something super exciting happened last night... I got cold! What? Yes. I had to pull the blankets over my shoulders. This is something to celebrate over when you live in southern California. We'll soon see the leaves change and glorious gloomy days! Is anyone excited about rain or is it just me?

Any kind for of boots -- ankles boots, riding boots, rain boots! I can finally busts these out of the closets and not look semi-ridiculous wearing them. 

The Cabin
Whenever Dan and I have a free weekend we love to drive up to the mountains, make a fire, ride around on the quad and sleep in. It's the perfect place to relax, make Dutch Babies for breakfast and enjoy the autumn colors. I like to sit out on the porch and savor every sip of coffee -- clear my mind of the list of chores back home and just relax. 

Yay for comfy sweaters and warm soft fabrics. I have always been a fan of wearing what feels good. I dig the minimalist look vs. the chunky layering. Light layers work better in So-Cal than the heavier coats and jackets you’d wear elsewhere. We like to celebrate the seasons while still keeping our cool.

Cozy Mornings in Bed
This usually doesn't happen until mid November or so, but I love cold mornings. The little house we rent right now doesn't have any insulation, so we REALLY feel the temperature change! Some mornings I can see my own breath! Since then, Dan and I invested in a feather down blanket and a space heater to help deal with cold. One of my favorite things is a cold Saturday morning wrapped in our cozy marshmallow bed. If I'm lucky D will make some coffee or spice tea and we'll both just sit in the warm sheets until we have enough courage to climb out of bed. It's Heaven. 

I love spending time next to a warm fire. What’s more romantic than cuddling up to your love in front of a crackling fire or sipping cider with a glowing hearth at your back? And the smell….oh man I live for bundled-up walks around Balboa with the smell of smoky fireplaces spindling overhead.

Pumpkins Everywhere
Pumpkins are everywhere -- carving pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin beignets at Disneyland and these amazing Pumpkin Fritters with salted caramel sauce. Our nation goes crazy for pumpkins, which is odd because pumpkins are virtually forgotten the rest of the year. I'm glad we have made it a tradition to celebrate this autumn staple.

Stews & Soups
Awww yes a savory tomato soup or rustic white bean, a spicy beef chili, creamy butternut squash or pumpkin...I love them all. It's a great way to appreciate the tastes and smells of autumn while warming your bones. One of my friends makes it a habit to feed her little ones a warm bowl of chili before they go trick-or-treating each year...what a fun tradition. 

Caramel Apples & Cider
When we were kids, my parents would take us to Riley's Farm every fall to pick apples and press them for cider. I have the best memories of throwing apples into the grinder while my brother worked the wheel. We would head to the barn for apples dipped in a huge cauldron of caramel and cart home jugs of fresh cider and apples to make a mile high apple pie. I always make sure we have cider and caramel apples every fall.

Snuggly Book Weather
Because it's a lovely feeling to be wrapped in a toasty blanket fireside with a good book. 

Football Season
On most fall mornings I am woken up by the sound of our high school's band practicing for the big games. Dan and I like to cheer on our alma mater during football season. Bring yo jackets, scarves and something warm to drink. It's a fun way of diving into fall festivities while reminiscing about our early years. Go Sailors Go!

Believe it or not, it's a rare phenomenon around here. I think the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Fall and winter bring hope of rain for us...and by rain I mean a drizzly morning. Yeah, our weather is fantastic but it's so exciting to get some rain around here!

Golden Hour
Every season has a golden hour but I think it's best in the fall when the evening sun illuminates the orange and red leaves. I love that hour when the sun sits low in the sky and casts a magical glow over everything. It's almost as if God is saying "Hey girl...here's a hug just for you." -- one of my joie de vivre.

Hocus Pocus
I am a wimp when it comes to scary movies. I just can't. But what I can do is Hocus Pocus. I used to watch it with my best friend and we'd pretend to cast spells and ride around on vacuums (ß must see movie). I'll watch the lighthearted Halloween movies like Nightmare Before Christmas and the Great Pumpkin etc. I like to get into the Halloween spirit sans the horrendous nightmares.

Because a toasty home that smells like pumpkin pie is a fabulous thing to come home to. Dan works late...full-time plus extra hours building our two houses after  he leaves the office. Some nights I'll get home before him -- when I do, it's nice to make something special. Freshly baked pies or other treats are fun to indulge in after a long day at work + they'll warm up the house.

Trick or Treating
I just love seeing all the cute kids run door to door. We live in a granny house so Dan and I put extra effort into lining our walkway with jack-o-lanterns and an open gate. Despite our efforts we only get a few brave souls that venture back (or repeat customers). We'll let the kids take handfuls of candy and give the rest of the bowl to a lucky kid around 9:00 or so. I love that one night out of the year we can trust each other -- knock on a stranger’s door and receive a treat. It's a strange tradition for such a guarded generation, but I love it. 

Pictures:Weather1,2Boots1Cabin1,2; layers 1,2,3Cozy 1; Fire 12; Pumpkins 12Soup1Apples 1,2Book 1Football 1Rain 1Golden 1,2Hocus Pocus 12Pumpkin Pie 1,2; Trick or Treat 1  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Simple Vanilla Bean Date Shake {No Sugar Added}

My mom whipped this up the other day. I loved it so much that I had to share it with you. Whenever she's hankering for something sweet she makes a healthy date shake. It's simple and so yummy and much better for you than the traditional ice cream shake.

i n g r e d i e n t s:

10 pitted dates
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup ice
2 cups of purified water

d i r e c t i o n s:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass. I'd suggest using a spoon to reach the dates and vanilla beans that settle on the bottom. 

Simple as that...

Best part^

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sweet and Creamy Almond Macadamia Nut Milk

1 cup almond
½ cup macadamia
1 cup pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups of water
sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon {optional}

-Add first 5 ingredients into a blender and blend until the nuts have turned into a fine pulp.
-Slowly pour the blended mixture though a fine mesh {sieve} that has been placed over a large bowl. Use a spoon to scrape through the sieve – helping the milk drain.
-If serving right away, pour the clean nut milk into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake, pour and serve.
-Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon

*Keep refrigerated and drink within 5 days.

Keep the leftover nut pulp for healthy "Protein Bites" in lieu of cashews. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh So Lucky Studios

My friend Hailey has just opened a fabulous shop called Oh So Lucky Studios "A studio dedicated to celebrating your favorite wedding moments with custom wedding illustrations planned, painted and packaged especially for you!" I am beyond excited for her and thought I should share this beautiful place with all of you.

A note from the artist:
"Hello! My name is Hailey Toohey and I am the Owner, Creative Director, and Illustrator at Oh So Lucky Studios. I am the type who would get married every weekend if I could. I love weddings, I love my husband, and I absolutely love creative design! I decided to combine my passions to see what would happen...
We, the Oh So Lucky Studios team, believe that if you don’t understand people, then you don’t understand business.  The core of our company is not what we do, but why we do it. Our illustrations are inspired by you - the happy people, the romantic souls, the creative gift givers, and all you wedding enthusiasts out there! Our goal is to celebrate, spread, inspire, and search for what truly makes people happy.  We decided to start with weddings.  We believe that healthy marriages are a huge part of a happy life for you, the people around you and most importantly, the people you choose to bring into this world.  Between the Bring Beauty Project and our illustrations, we hope, with your help, to leave this world a bit better and a bit more beautiful than when we found it." 

I was lucky enough to be one of her featured brides. Hailey captured my wedding dress lace to a tee ^. I jumped for joy when I came home from work and saw that pretty box delivered on my doorstep. Hailey puts so much love into everything – from her flawless artwork to the sparkly little sticker on the perfectly wrapped tissue paper. You can tell that her heart and soul have gone into every detail. She truly loves what she does.

If you are a past, present or future bride, I suggest you check out Oh So Lucky Studios and take a look at Hailey's amazing work. And to all you grooms and husbands out there, this can be a thoughtful gift for your bride - major brownie points guys! Having a keepsake from your wedding is a very special thing.