SUPER Simple Truffle Popcorn (Or A Party-Planning Life Hack)

OK, this has to be a quick post because I’m in the middle of a three-day meditative fast during which I am attacking my screenplay revisions without any comforting distractions. It’s a meditative/writing/prayer thingy-do that I may end up blogging about here if I have enough time or emotional bandwidth available after diving into the dark places of my script I’ve been too scared to examine truthfully, and without distraction.

So here it goes…

A long time ago I wrote a post about truffle popcorn that involved measuring oil and popping your own popcorn on the stove. (You can find it here.) This pilgrim-era method is fine I guess, but I would often find myself annoyed with unevenly popped kernels, burnt pots, and the other irritations that come along with doing everything the hard way.

I recently came up with a solution to the problem… and it happened by accident.

I was running late to my friend’s low-key Oscar gathering and didn’t have anything to bring. I had some Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Popcorn sitting around, which I adored for its evenly popped, perfect fluffiness… but not so much for its taste.

Chewy and the dinos may  have been into it… but I wasn't.

Chewy and the dinos may have been clamoring for it… but I wasn’t.

Then it hit me!

Melt butter, dump it all over the dry-ish popcorn, sprinkle it with black truffle salt, and Ta Da!  Now you have perfectly-popped popcorn covered in the greatest things on earth: black truffle bits and butter!

Everyone loved it.

This bowl was full five minutes before the photo was taken.

This bowl was full two minutes before the photo was taken.

So there you have it: a simple party planning life hack. And my new favorite thing.

Now I’m off to do the thing that scares me….

Somebody say a prayer for me.

XOXO

The Birthday Girl is Almost Speechless (Or Thank You Thank You Thank You!)

My birthday was nearly a month ago, but the gratitude I feel for the love and generosity displayed by everyone in my life lingers still.

I have so many people to thank and so much to say about all of it that I almost don’t know where to start.

My friends actually humored my ridiculous need to celebrate for an entire week, so I should probably start there.

My first party involved food trucks and an outdoor screening of Blazing Saddles in Griffith Park. (A portion of the event’s proceeds went toward animal rescue, which was an added bonus.)

People were really into the food.

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(Especially the kind that was impaled with skewers.)

And the beer…

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Obviously.

Later in the week, I hit up Bludso’s Barbecue with my friend Katy who happens to have been born on August 3rd as well.

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All I have to say about this situation is #texasforever

I finally finished the alphabet book I started at her son’s Elephant-Themed Baby Shower, and I gave it to her as a birthday gift.

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It only took like 18 months. (Sorry, Finnie!)

After stuffing my face with meat for days, I jumped in a kayak with Elena.

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We didn’t even capsize.

For my final party, I planned a picnic for the polo matches in the Pacific Palisades. I painted a whole bunch of horses and glued them on top of miniature mason jars because it seemed like the proper thing to do for polo.

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Ziggy totally tried to get some of our pony-topped carnitas action.

I also made ginger mint juleps and poured them in jars.

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Adult sippy cups! #duh

Not only did a lot of friends tell me they were pregnant (yay, more baby showers!), but they even brought their cute kids to the party.

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Including My August 3rd Birthday Buddy, Connor!

You may remember Connor from the Owl Baby Shower That Never Happened Story. His mom is so adorable that she also brought horseshoe cookies.

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I mean…

Between matches we got to stomp the divots Pretty Woman-style and play with the ponies up close.

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Ryan was way into it.

In between making new friends, some people even watched polo.

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Well, maybe only Mike did.

Kidding. I watched too. (Only I don’t have any photos of that.)

I’m so grateful to everyone who spent time with me in various ways over the week. My favorite thing about parties is bringing everyone I adore together, and birthdays are the perfect excuse!

On my actual birthday, I kept things kind of low-key. I hung around after church to talk to an artist who was making a piece to promote the Labor Day creative retreat I registered to attend.

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Awesome, right?

Hearing the story behind his art was a great way to celebrate a new year of my life that will be focused on my own projects…

and this brings me to my final thank you.

Monday morning I received an e-mail informing me that someone at church anonymously paid for half of my registration fee to attend the creative retreat. When I read the message, my eyes filled with tears of astonishment and gratitude. As I pack my bags for the mountains today, I’m still in awe that someone believes in me enough to support my creativity.

I cannot properly express how much it means to me. I’m inspired, grateful, and absolutely filled with love. Since that amazing person prefers to remain anonymous, I felt the best way to recognize his or her generosity would be by writing about it here. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I won’t let you down. I promise.

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone amazing in my life. I’m so lucky to know you. You make my life better. All of you.

 

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?

The Impromptu Preppy Pool Party (Or I Call an Audible on My Party Plans)

Guys, today is my twelve-year LA anniversary.

Twelve. Years.

Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s a looooong time to live in one place. I have to admit: in that time, LA and I have had a rocky relationship. But recently? I realized that I’m kinda crazy in love with this stupid city.

This past weekend LA did make me question its love for me, however, when a large section of the 405 was closed for construction near the beachfront hotel where I was supposed to have my birthday party. (LA? Not one of your better moments in our relationship. Just saying…)

Despite weeks of planning, I found myself facing the possibility of my friends sitting in gridlock, cursing the day I was born instead of celebrating it. (#notcool)

So, I woke up at 4:30 am the day before the festivities and I called an audible on my party. I totally changed the play on the fly ‘cuz I wasn’t going to let some freeway construction cramp my style.

With less than 36 hours before my party was supposed to kick off, I cancelled my hotel room, sent an update to my Paperless Post invite, and completely re-envisioned my menu. I also made a Pinterest Board for a totally new event — at my own pool.

I went for a simple, preppy nautical theme. Here’s how it turned out.

By Paper + Cup on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I started with the “Little Lifesaver” invite from Paper + Cup on Paperless Post. Source

Then I stenciled a whole buncha boats, anchors, and lighthouses on everything with these stencils from my friend, Martha. (#loveher)

Simple nautical party decorations from Dogs Dishes and Decor

When this is your idea of keeping things simple, it’s probably time for an intervention. Just saying…

Simple snacks at a nautical themed pool party Dogs Dishes and Decor

Here are the stenciled treat bags in action.

Sprinkles Strawberry cupcakes in Williams Sonoma cupcake liners on Dogs Dishes and Decor

I picked up some striped cupcake liners at Williams Sonoma and made a quick batch of Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes.

Also?

Nautical Chandon on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Gillian totally came through with this nautical themed bottle of Chandon. #perfection

After the poolside grilling festivities, the single people hit up a few bars in my neighborhood.

J. Crew whale sweater on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Obviously my J. Crew whale sweater and I had to keep up the whole nautical theme late night.

I know I still owe you the rest of the wrap up on Finnie’s Elephant Theme shower. Now that I think about it… LA closed the 405 the day of his Elephant shower too. I think LA hates my theme parties.

But Finnie doesn’t.

He partied so hard at my pool party that he fell asleep.

See?

Sleeping baby Finn on Dogs Dishes and Decor

So presh.

More on his shower later. I’m off to yoga.

Party Playlist Post 4 (Or We’re ALL Hard to Love)

Guys, it’s my birthday! So this is going to be a quick post about the party playlist ‘cuz I’m rushing off to someone else’s birthday party (naturally) before I head down to the OC for a little Bob Dylan and My Morning Jacket, with a side of Wilco.

Annnnnyway, here goes today’s edition:

The Pixies’ Monkey Gone to Heaven is for Brady, my first rescue dog.

Cocker Spaniel on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Wasn’t the Bubba amazing?

It was the only song I could stand for days after he died. It’s for battling cancer, congestive heart failure, deafness, and raccoon scars but being the sweetest, gentlest little man. It’s for being the best hiker of all my dogs, despite his health struggles. It’s for that night in 2003 where his howls of distress over my sobs pulled me off the kitchen floor and out of my own wallowing. It’s for the way he always licked away my tears. It’s for the peaceful way he silently slipped away while wearing his Michigan shirt on Melissa’s birthday so many years ago. It’s for helping me grow up. For teaching me so much about love, loss, and letting go. May you forever be hiking in heaven, Monkey.

Steve Aoki’s I’m in the House is for my Boxer, Albus. It’s for crashing into my life on what would have been my Grandpa’s 88th birthday and shaking everything up. It’s for breaking up the warring Spaniel sisters and setting us all free. It’s for helping me quit a job that was killing me. It’s for the people I’ve met while trying to wear him out on walks. It’s for the happiness he brings every day with his big paws and his boundless enthusiasm. It’s for the way he flops down in exhaustion long before his little sister. It’s for the way his strong, tough exterior belies such a gentle little boy underneath. It’s for letting me use him as a pillow while we’re watching TV. It’s for reminding me that things like Ray Bans don’t really matter that much anyway….

You ARE in the Muthaf*&#ing house, Bus.

The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What you Want is for my Cocker Spaniel, Woodley. It’s for how right her trainer was when he said, “God is trying to teach you something with these dogs.” It’s for the way she finally let me in after weeks of being aloof. It’s for the ways she has grown stronger and saner without her sister. It’s for being the dog I always knew she was inside and for how far we’ve come since she came into my life. It’s for the way she snuggles up against my back. It’s for the way she loves carrots and big sticks of celery. It’s for loving Albus immediately even though she despises almost every other dog. It’s for the way she tries to defend him from dogs five times her size. It’s for the way I can’t help laughing that she absolutely defines the word “bitch” in all the best ways. And maybe most of all? It’s for truly teaching me that you can’t always get what you want, but you really do get what you need.

Lee Brice’s Hard to Love is for all the friends, family, and strangers who have confided so much in me. Your stories have shown me that we’re ALL hard to love and that’s what makes it so magical when someone knows it all and still loves us anyway.

#love

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.