Just Sprinkle Some Truffle Salt On It (Or My Midnight Snack Supper Situation)

So remember when I used to write posts about meals that looked like this?

Easter Dinner on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Color coordinated ombre Easter fanciness for days.

Well, lately my dinners are looking more like this:

Overcooked burger with Brussels sprouts

#sosad

I did sprinkle the burger and Brussels sprouts with truffle salt in an attempt to salvage the situation, but it was ultimately about as grim as it looks. (Even truffle salt can’t fix ugly.)

Also?

That wasn’t nearly enough food to satisfy me, so I hit the bag of sea salt potato chips like a boss mere seconds after snapping that horrendous photo.

If you’re wondering why a former food blogger is making meals that aren’t even fit for a savage, it’s because this food blogger ate dinner at 11freakingpm tonight. That’s my life at the moment, guys. Gourmet goes out the window when you’re working so much that supper is more like a midnight snack.

It’s not all sad veggies and overcooked grass fed ground beef around here, though. I did try out a new cake recipe last weekend for a Super Bowl party.

See?

Triple berry vanilla bean cake with rose water buttercream frosting on Dogs Dishes and Decor #tripleberry #buttercream #babyshower

SO many layers.

Does that count for something?

I’m making some tweaks for the upcoming baby shower, so I’m not quite ready to post the recipe. I’ll hook you up when it’s more… me. This cake involved rose water buttercream frosting, and I found it cloyingly sweet, so I’m going in the whipped cream/cream cheese frosting direction for the shower….

More on that later.

Now, I leave you with my latest musical OBSESSION. It’s an epic mashup of Bon Iver’s “Wolves” with Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper.” WHOCOMESUPWITHTHIS?!? #idie

I know what Bo don’t know…

2014 and I Are Going to be Friends (Or Will You Still be My Blog Friend?)

I was reading through old posts this week and realized my credibility is pretty shaky here in the blogosphere. I promised not to be all philosophical and sad, I said I’d write a post about meyer lemon budino fluffiness, and I failed on both fronts. If I’m being really honest, I probably still owe you a proper wrap up from Finn’s baby shower… and the child is practically walking, faux hawk and all.

Dogs and Babies on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I mean look at him! He’s going to be hiking with Woodley soon.

It seems a little inauthentic to resurrect all that now.

SO… here’s what I’m gonna do instead:

I’m going to stop making promises I can’t keep. Seriously. I’m not going to promise posts I don’t really feel like writing, I’m going to say sorry for not publishing those half written drafts, and I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m going to trust that those of you who have stuck by me through the highs and lows of the last year will do continue to do so, and those who really just want sprinkles, sparkles, and puff pastries have found all that glitters and oozes with butter somewhere else.

So this is Dogs Dishes and Decor these days. It’s the good with the bad. The highs with the lows. Life with a side of glitter.

Cool?

Cool. Now let’s talk about 2014. It started off pretty solid.

I mean, I found this on a rock while hiking with Albus on New Year’s Day.

New Year's Day Hike on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I’d love to know how this actually ended up on a rock in the Hollywood Hills, but I’m not asking questions. I’m just wearing my crown like a boss.

And now that the year is well underway, I’m helping Finnie’s mommy plan a baby shower for someone in our (now defunct) supper club, I’m prepping for a massive shoot at work, and I’m doing my best to navigate the new rules of nutrition outlined by my Ayurvedic doctor without stabbing someone on set because I haven’t had any pickled ginger or dark chocolate in days.

Here’s a preview of the baby shower brain child I’m creating.

100 Layer Cake Baby Shower Ideas on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Photo courtesy of 100 Layer Cake.

Baby Shower Cake from 100 Layer Cake on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Photo courtesy of 100 Layer Cake.

You can check out my Pinterest Board for the shower here.

And just for good measure, here’s the meyer lemon budino I made last spring when my long lost Gillian returned from producing DIVERGENT in Chicago.

Meyer Lemon Budino from Bon Appetit on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Bon Appetit knows what’s up with budino.

You can find the recipe here.

Happy 2014!

Let’s still be blog friends. K?

Blast the Billy Ocean and Create (Or Carrot Cupcakes for Noah)

Guys, it’s time for my Billy Ocean Pandora station. I can’t wallow anymore. I’m no good to anyone — particularly myself — if I’m wallowing.

Sure it’s important to feel your feelings. And yeah we need to acknowledge loss and embrace the sadness, but we also have to pick ourselves up and do our damn dishes… get off our couches and dance in our kitchens.

Tuesday and Wednesday seriously sucked. I’m not going to lie. I cried. So much. I still made myself go to yoga, church, business meetings and whatnot. But between those things? I cried. So much, in fact, that I could hardly wear my contacts because I screwed up the ph of my eyes. So I decided to start Thursday by hiking with my long lost Suzie who is finally back from Iran. Determined to stay in a good place, I’m now blasting Billy Ocean and blogging.

See, Billy Ocean makes me smile — and Suzie inspired me to create. Because she’s brilliant, she pointed out the importance of creating instead of consuming. (Creating has transformative potential for our souls and stuff.) So I’m doing that. I’m creating… this blog post.

Ta da!

And in this blog post? I’m giving you the inspiration to create carrot cupcakes. I made them for Noah’s memorial because my mom couldn’t find cupcakes she liked anywhere in East Lansing.

People loved them and stuff.

Carrot cupcakes from Dogs Dishes and Decor #carrot #cupcakes #fall

Oh, and for further inspiration, here’s the Billy Ocean song that’s making me smile today.

Crank it up and bake yourself some carrot cupcakes. Put frosting all over the pain and then give it all away. And by “all” I mean the pain and the baked goods; there’s no sense in getting fat because bad things are happening.

Just saying…

Noah’s Carrot Cupcakes

2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 C sugar
1 1/2 C vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 C crushed pineapple, drained
2 C finely grated carrots
1 C shredded coconut
1 C chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture. Fold in the pineapple, carrots, coconut, and walnuts. Stir in the vanilla.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely and top them with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 C confectioners’ sugar (or to desired consistency)

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.

The recipe makes about 24 cupcakes, so you’ll have a lot to give away.

Anna’s Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich (Or I Find My Birthday Cake)

This past weekend my friend Anna made my birthday super special. First she took me to brunch at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, which is one of our absolute favorite spots.

See?

Birthday Brunch at Cecconi's on Dogs Dishes and Decor

We ate simply scrumptious stuff. Plus we made new friends. They sang to me and bought us lemoncello. #iadorenewfriends

Then we went to Theory to return unnecessary purchases like responsible kids. And we ended the day with some ice cream and pool time.

Dogs Dishes and Decor

I seriously love So Cal sun.

Anna had foot surgery on Monday, so I made her a gigantic get well ice cream cookie sandwich.

And guys?

This thing is INSANE. Just look at it.

Ice cream cookie sandwich on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Words fail me.

I think I might be in love. I think I have to make it again. I think it needs to be my birthday cake next weekend.

The cookie part is almost cookie cake-y and it doesn’t freeze as rock solid as these did. You can find the recipe here. I skipped the butterscotch sauce because I thought it would be sweetness overkill.

Ice cream and cookies is enough, ya know?

There’s Bourbon in My Batter (Or How to Make Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes with Caramel Bourbon Topping)

So, my blog basically went on hiatus when perky, fun, glue gun/glitter pen-loving Anika became serious, sad, OMG-everyone-is-dead Anika. Then that Anika got all mad.

Again?

Not fun.

Since November I’ve basically been a basket case. I’ve also been really busy, which doesn’t always leave a lot of room for baking, writing about baking, or just learning to BE. The last bit is the hardest for me, by the way. When you’re a DOer, learning to be still… and just BE?

Is murder.

So, anyway, I wrapped another producing project last week and our first episode went live today. Sorry for the self-promotion, but here it is.

Now that I’m not working 12-hour days, I have been crossing things off my personal to-do list like: schedule the massage I paid for five months ago, make an acupuncture appointment to deal with my two year-old IT band injury, and write a bloody blog post.

Today I’m finally getting around to the blog post part, and for my first post back, I thought I’d write about the seriously sinful cupcakes I made for my last day on the Acuvue show. The other producers and I shared a love of bourbon, so I commemorated my last day with some boozy cupcakes. I wanted to make something chocolatey with caramel and bourbon… and a little googling led me to this recipe.

Which led to these cupcakes.

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes with Bourbon Caramel Topping

You need to bake these things as fast as possible because the batter is dangerously delicious. Trust me. There was an incident involving my mouth and a large spoon.

Which then led to a few declarations of undying love. (Apparently people like their chocolate soaked in Maker’s Mark.)

The key to these cupcakes (or to any cupcake for that matter) is not to bake them as long as the recipe instructs. I always go for 2-4 minutes under the baking time and the cupcakes end up being much, much better. (You want them to be moist — with a few crumbs sticking to the tester.)

Later this week I’m mixing up some cocktails for poolside festivities so look out for some Skinny Margarita recipes and a cocktail with vodka and muddled peas.

Yup, you read that right. Vodka. With muddled peas.

Stay tuned for that mess.

The Island Rum Incident (Or How to Make Pina Colada Cupcakes)

When I was 13, my dad and I went to the Bahamas for Spring Break. Our first night there, we heard a delightful reggae sound coming from the bar. Unable to pass up a live performance, we stopped by to check it out. When our waitress came by to get our order, my dad ordered a glass of wine, and I attempted to order a virgin pina colada. The waitress scowled and replied in a thick accent, “It’s the same price without alcohol.”

“That’s OK. I don’t need the rum,” I replied.

“But it’s the same price,” she insisted. This went on for quite a while until I finally requested a Sprite instead of the Pina Colada I actually wanted. I mean, I was 13 and didn’t look a day older than that from the neck up. I was rocking braces with florescent pink rubber bands. You know the kind that make you look like you have an entire pack of Hubba Bubba stuck in your teeth? Yeah, I had those. I also had the bad braids you pay for on the beach. I was clearly nowhere near the legal drinking age anywhere in the world, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. My dad was so amused by the entire exchange that he never intervened. He probably would have stopped her from bringing me a hurricane glass brimming with rum if she had won the battle of the wills, but he was too busy chuckling over the whole thing to get involved. Plus, I’m not one to be pushed around. Never was.

We later figured out the entire altercation was because rum is so cheap in the islands that it’s less expensive than drink mixers or soda. It’s common for island bars to increase the amount of rum in cocktails because it’s practically less expensive than the ice in the glass.

So anyway, I didn’t get my fruity drink that night and rather grudgingly sipped on my Sprite before choking down what was easily the most chewy conch dinner ever served to anyone.

Now I’d happily have a nice Bahamian lady over serve me, but I’m a long way from the islands. Sure southern California doesn’t completely suck, but there isn’t anyone with dreads playing the steel drums in my lobby, and I’m a long way from feeling irie. Or whatever.

To capture a little of the island feel amidst the smog and haze of Hollywood today, I put on some vintage Jimmy Cliff tunes and whipped up pina colada cupcakes.

These pina colada cupcakes are so good I almost forgot I was in the land of smog and traffic. Almost.

Here’s the recipe in case your weather is making you want to run away to warmer places where they’ll try to get your kids drunk to the sound of steel drums.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

2 ½ C flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ C butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 C brown sugar
1 C cream of coconut
2 tsp coconut extract
½ C chopped pineapple

Makes 24

Preheat the oven to 350. Place liners in the cupcake pans.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add coconut extract and blend.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to blend. Add the cream of coconut and mix to blend. Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and blend. Add the pineapple and mix thoroughly.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
½ C butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp coconut extract
2-3 C powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the coconut extract and mix thoroughly. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. Add additional sugar by ¼ cupfuls until the frosting reaches desired sweetness and consistency.

Garnish cupcakes with toasted coconut, maraschino cherries, and candied pineapple.

Note: I prefer to toast the coconut in a frying pan over medium heat because it’s too easy to forget about it in the oven. I also find it easier to control the heat on the burner, but that’s just me.

Just As Long As It’s Not Red Velvet (Or How to Make the Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever)

My good friend’s birthday was last week and instead of bringing a present, she asked if I could bake cupcakes instead.

Baked goods are much better than birthday presents. I mean, who needs another scented candle anyway?

She didn’t give me many instructions aside from, “I like pretty much any kind of cake… just as long as it’s not red velvet.”

I’m with her on the red velvet front. I personally hate it. Besides, it will forever remind me of that scene in Steel Magnolias where Ouisa hacks the butt off of the armadillo groom’s cake and serves it to Drum.

Photo courtesy of pichouse.

My god, I love that movie…. So much, in fact, that I will watch the remake on Lifetime next month.

So, anyway, my head was filling with ideas until she added, “Oh, and I don’t like cream cheese frosting.”

Uh oh.

Cream cheese, mascarpone, or some combination of both serve as the base for almost all of my favorite frostings.

Before we even hung up, though, I had an idea… the chocolate ganache filled chocolate cupcakes I had planned to make for Connor’s baby shower.

I had most of the ingredients. I know the cupcakes are good. And the seven minute meringue frosting doesn’t involve cream cheese.

The recipe doesn’t really have a downside except that it makes 24 cupcakes and is not easily halved. There were only going to be 10 of us at the party, so that would mean a lot of leftover cupcakes. Luckily, my neighbors were throwing a pool party that afternoon, and they invited me to join them. So I stopped by for a beer before heading to the birthday party and I brought them the surplus cupcakes. Problem solved. With neighborly hospitality and beer.

If you’re in the mood for some seriously good chocolate cupcakes, the recipe is here.

Just a heads up if you’re going to make them: you should make the ganache before making the cupcakes because it takes a while to cool. Plus, there’s a good chance you won’t need all of the ganache. Depending on how aggressive you are with the whole pushing the tops of the cupcakes down with your thumb, you can get away with only using half or three quarters of the ganache. (I have never used all of it, but perhaps I’m not removing enough cake from the cupcake.)