My husband and I just got back from a lovely little Hawaiian getaway. We visited the island of Kauai, and it was magical in so many ways. From the hikes to the beaches to the food, we were blown away and really had the best time. Following very true to form, I had researched several sweet spots before our trip, and discovered a plethora of ice cream, shave ice, and açaí bowl options. Sounds like heaven to me! One place that looked super legit was Lappert’s Hawaii Ice Cream & Coffee. I noted multiple locations on the island, and quickly planned our visit. Upon arrival to the shop, the delicious smell of freshly made waffle cones drifted over us, and we knew we made a good choice. Lappert’s makes a bunch of unique flavors using local ingredients and mix-ins, like Kauai Pie (Kona coffee ice cream, Hawaiian macadamia nuts, shredded toasted coconut & dark chocolate fudge) and Caramel Coconut Macadamia Nut (bourbon vanilla ice cream, toasted coconut, Hawaiian macadamia nuts & caramel swirl). Wow, just reading that again makes my mouth drool. How good does that sound? Several flavors tempted us, and tried our fair share, but I went with the two mentioned above, and they did not disappoint. Yum! Lappert’s opens early in the morning, as they also serve fresh, daily-roasted local coffee, so feel free to stop in for your java fix as well! However, I wouldn’t judge you if you decided on ice cream for breakfast, instead! Those flavors are hard to deny! Here’s to hoping Lappert’s opens a shop in Cali soon!
If you haven’t gotten to explore the tasty cuisine (and wine, duh) of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, I highly recommend planning a trip. On a recent summer trip to wine country with my family, let’s just say we ate very well. One of the highlights was the super cute Barndiva, housed in none other than a classic barn setting with a beautiful patio out back. This farm to fork restaurant serves modern country cuisine, and everything is extremely fresh and seasonal thanks to their use of the plentiful local produce around. Because of the size of our group, we had a pre-fixe menu, but the options were still delish. I opted for the colorful beet salad to start, which was served with fresh goat cheese, petite lettuces, carrot, radish, raspberry, and lemon vinaigrette. Just look at that plating- it’s practically a work of art! For my entrée, I chose the Alaskan Halibut. The fish was cooked perfectly and was accompanied by sun dried tomato fregola sarda, fava beans, sugar snap peas, gaufrette, and a stinging nettle pistou. Talk about flavors of the season! This truly makes me miss summer and all its bounty. Don’t skip the creative cocktails, or stop by The Somm’s Table for an evening with local winemakers. Maybe even go for a stroll through the garden if you have time- trust me, wherever you end up at Barndiva, you won’t be disappointed!
Apple crisp (or crumble, whatever you want to call it) is one of those good ‘ol classic desserts that always hits the spot. I love it come fall and winter, served warm with spicy notes of cinnamon and streusel topping. It’s super tasty alone, but even better topped with some vanilla bean gelato! Some apples, like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady & Fuji, are better for eating thanks to their crisp, sweet bite. Others, like Macintosh & Braeburn, are better for cooking, and get nicely stewed in a crisp. I like using a variety of apples for layers of flavor and texture that can’t be beat! This time I also decided to throw in some gorgeous, seasonal plums that I had on hand. Perfect combo! Don’t forget about crisps and crumbles during spring and summer- by switching up the fruit, you can enjoy a delicious bowl of goodness year-round!
Homestyle Apple Plum Crisp:
2 pounds apples (I like any combo of Macintosh, Granny Smith, Cortland, Braeburn & Fuji)
1 pound plums
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
vanilla bean ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 F, and butter a large baking dish (9x13 or 2 qt oval). Peel, core & cut apples into 1/4-inch slices, and place into a large bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch, and mix to combine. Pour apples into baking dish.
For the topping, add the flour, oats, pecans, cinnamon, salt, and sugars in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed (you may also use a stand mixer if you prefer). Spread the streusel topping mixture evenly over the apples. Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the apples are bubbling, about 55-60 minutes. Best served warm, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
Pasta, pasta, pasta! I had been told by many a pasta-finatic that if you’re on the hunt for delicious Italian food in Los Angeles, you head straight to Felix Trattoria. Being that it’s in Venice, it’s not the quickest dinner venture for us (not to mention reservations are hard to come by), but when I was planning a recent date night with friends, I made Felix a top priority. Chef Evan Funke’s take on traditional, regional Italian cuisine enriched with local Cali ingredients is nothing short of spectacular. Pasta and bread are the true standouts, and you can even watch them get made right before your eyes! The pizza bianca (with melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella) and the classic focaccia sfincione are not to be missed. You really can’t go wrong with anything from the handmade pasta menu, which offers various regional specialties from all around Italy. I love an orecchiette, and this one served with sausage, broccoli, peperoncino, and canestrato was delectable down to the last bite! Even the veggies at Felix were memorable: I loved the mint and pesto Siciliano coating the green beans in the fagiolini verdi dish! Also impressive were the branded ice cubes in my negroni- how fancy! Even though we were pretty stuffed by this point, you know I don’t skip dessert. The torta della nonna (a perfectly moist olive oil cake) really hit the spot, and allowed us to finish our meal on a not-too-sweet, but totally satisfied note. Scroll through the slideshow to check out the rest of our meal, and trust me when I say- get there soon! Felix (Latin for “happy” or “lucky”) easily gets my vote for best Italian in LA, and I already cannot wait to return in the new year!
My love for casual, but consistently tasty breakfast and lunch spots is no secret. When we started spending more time in Los Angeles, one of my top priorities was to find a few neighborhood spots at which we could become regulars. These places need to be warm and inviting with a nice atmosphere, the food not too fussy, brew great coffee, and even better if they bake delicious pastries in house. I’d heard several people rave about Go Gem ‘Em Tiger, and once my husband and I stopped by one morning, we realized why. After scouring the menu and narrowing down our breakfast choices (no easy feat!), we snagged a table outside in the sun and sipped our coffees (they roast and sell their own beans!). I highly recommend getting yours made with their housemade almond macadamia milk! Yum! You’ll find some classics on the menu, like homemade granola and a breakfast sandwich, but we went for some of GGET’s more unique offerings. My husband loves a hash, and was all about his Spanish chorizo hash with eggs, potato, and aioli (he only wished it was bigger!). I went for the chickpea frittata, served with seasonal veggies and pickled beets! The only thing missing was hot sauce. We also shared a side of the roasted cauliflower salad, which was served cold and visible in their ready-made section, among many other tasty looking sides. Go Get ‘Em Tiger is the perfect spot for an easy, but enjoyable breakfast or lunch with friends, but also works for a quick coffee and pastry to go. I love getting to sit outside, catching the breeze and soaking up the sun. Lucky for me, they recently opened another location in my new neighborhood- I cannot wait to stop by soon!
I love all things seasonal, and therefore I love all things pumpkin! I will admit, however, that pumpkin pie can be a bit mundane at times. I love to spruce it up by adding more textures and flavors, both in the crust as well as toppings. Speculoos (aka Biscoff) cookies make for a much more exciting crust than traditional dough in my opinion- I’m obsessed with their spicy flavor! I also prefer a high crust to filling ratio, so it’s not like you’re just eating a bowl of custard. Candied ginger adds a nice zingy complement to the creamy pumpkin filling, and candied pepitas top these babies off with the perfect crunch! By making them in individual tart shells (mine are technically crème brûlée dishes), everyone gets their own mini pie, and you don’t have to worry about the crust crumbling when trying to remove it from the dish. Just grab a spoon and dig in! I got to bake these with one of my fave bloggers, Camille Styles, when she was in town from my home state of Texas. We had such a blast and now I’m super pumped for all things holiday! If you’re still looking for the perfect Thanksgiving dessert, these tarts would be the perfect addition to your dinner table! Be sure to check out the feature on her blog as well! Enjoy :)
Mini Speculoos Pumpkin Tarts with Candied Pepitas:
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup candied pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for topping
1/2 cup candied ginger, for topping
whipped cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°. Process cookies in food processor until fully crumbled. Add coconut oil and pulse until well combined, then spread the mixture evenly among the tart shells, making sure to push some up the sides as well. It should be nice and thick! Place tarts shells on a baking sheet, then bake for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine pumpkin, both sugars, spices, and salt, and cook for about 5 minutes until thick and smooth. Remove from heat, and add coconut milk and eggs, whisking until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared tart shells. Bake at 350° for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack. Top with candied pepitas and ginger, and serve with whipped cream. Enjoy immediately or chilled.
*To make this dairy-free, sub coconut oil for the butter in the crust, and serve with whipped coconut cream.
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