Friday, October 6, 2017

Hardly Strictly Carrot Cake with Rum Raisin Filling and Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting


It’s one of my pal’s birthdays and it's also Hardly Strictly Bluegrass weekend in Golden Gate Park. He said his favorite cake was Carrot Cake, so I made him this! I fluffed up a cake mix and turned out friggin epic! What makes this cake so moist and unique is that is the ingredients are smooth in the sponge cake and not all chunky like a lot of carrot cakes out there.
I had fun decorating this one...

The last of the roses from my garden...
Easy frostings in zip-lock bags...
Cake is so moist and buttery, it looks innocent enough...
INSIDE is the Myers Rum Raisin Filling Surprise!
For cake:
1 Box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Carrot Cake Mix
1 small box of Vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/3 cups orange juice
1/3 butter
1 small can have crushed pineapple
½ cup walnuts
½ cup shredded coconut
Juice of one Meyer lemon

For the Rum Raisin filling:
2 cups raisins
3 Tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
2 cups Dark Jamaican Rum
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

For frosting:
2 regular size boxes of cream cheese
1 stick butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREHEAT oven to 350°F, and spray baking pans with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a blender add, the pineapple, carrots, nuts, Orange juice, eggs, coconut and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl with the cake mix and add the pudding mix. Mix until completely smooth. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and pour batter into pans.  Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool.

For the Rum Raisin Filling, in a small sauce pan, add the butter, raisins, coconut and rum, sugar, nutmeg, and salt and simmer on low for 20 minutes until it reduces and the raisins plump up big full of rum and the coconut melts and thickens the mixture. Set aside to cool.

For the frosting add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and with an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.  I set aside some and added food coloring to decorate.  I placed them in small zip-lock bags, cut the ends off and made carrots on top.  I had some orange roses in my garden, and added them in the middle.

Cake Assembly: Place bottom layer down, add a thick coating of the Rum Raisin filling so it absorbs the rum juices. Then a large layer of cream cheese frosting, then the top cake layer and then frosted the rest of the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

I put it in the fridge to firm it up before transport.  I hope he like it! It was fun to make. Here is what it looks like.  Carrot Cake with a Myers Rum Raisin surprise inside! 

Had a blast last night at the Plough & Stars with all of the amazing bluegrass players.  Glad we could share it with the band!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Best Irish Car Bomb Cake ~ Hangover helpers

Here is a fluffed up boozy alcohol box cake recipe that is ALWAYS a winner!  An Irish car bomb is a drink that has a shot of Irish cream liqueur and Irish whiskey dropped in the shot glass, down into a glass of Guinness beer. This is something like that, but in a cake.  Seriously good cake for your Irish friends who love chocolate.

For Cake:
1 Box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 Chocolate instant pudding mix
4 eggs
½ cup softened butter
1 cup of Guinness Beer
½ cup Irish Cream Liqueur

For Cake Glaze:
½ cup of butter melted
1 cup Jameson’s Whiskey
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

For Ganache icing:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

COOKING MUSIC SELECTION: The Mahones - The Black Irish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a Bundt cake pan.  In a large bowl, add all of the cake ingredients and mix them until smooth. Pour into pan, and bake for 35-40 mins. or until you can poke a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean.  Before it’s completely baked, in a small saucepan, melt the butter, whiskey and powdered sugar, and let simmer for 10 mins. 

When the cake is done, take it out and then slowly pour the glaze into the cake while it is still hot in the Bundt pan to soak up this elixir.  Let it cool.

In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips and heavy cream and microwave it for 1 minute at a time. Take it out and stir it well until it is a shiny, beautiful chocolate ganache frosting.

Remove the cake from the pan onto a plate, and spoon the ganache icing over the top of it so it flows down the sides. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes to set up.  This cake is amazing, seriously good. ENJOY!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Home-made Brioche Buns

There is NOTHING like fresh made buns! Especially when you butter them up lightly and toast them.

This recipe makes amazing buns for any, Lobster or Crab roll, Poor boy, hot dog or hamburger bun.  It is surprisingly simple to make.  They are good alone.  If you want to take your sandwich to the next level, TRY THIS!

These are so good!
Toast them up and serve them filled with hot dog, Lobster rolls - Anything!
Shape them any way you want, for hamburgers or Cuban sandwiches.
3 tablespoons warm cream
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 1 egg.
In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, un-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Try them with my most requested chili cheese dog recipe!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Most Requested Chili Cheese Dog Recipe

Here is my most requested summer glamping recipe.  I make this chili sauce in advance and freeze it so I have it easy and ready to roll on any last-minute camping trip or weekend event. KIDS REALLY LIKE THIS ONE!

This is a great glamping food favorite!
2 pounds ground beef
2 cups beef broth
½ cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups tomato paste
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
½ teaspoon celery salt
¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ Cayenne Pepper

·         Fresh hot dog buns or try (My Brioche Bun recipe here)
·         Nathan’s hot dogs or Casper dogs (Grilled or steamed)
·         Shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese, or The Whiz
·         Add mustard, minced onions or whatever you love on your dogs!


Place the ground beef, beef broth and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat until beef is fine and browned. Add the remain ingredients and stir. Simmer on low setting for an hour. Grill or boil your hot dogs of choice.  Lightly butter a bun and toast it in a skillet or on the camp griddle until golden brown. Assemble the dog. I add a small amount of cheese first, then the hot dog, then the chili sauce, then add more cheese.  ENJOY!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tiki Fried Rice with Shrimp & Rum Pineapple

If you didn't notice, I'm in a Tiki Phase right now. 😼

I love cooking outdoors and especially on my sweet Camp Chef Expedition 3X Griddle Top.  I made this at our Leopard Lounge Camp @ this year’s Spring Strawberry Music Festival held in Grass Valley,CA.  This is a great griddle recipe for camping. Just make the rice ahead and keep it in a doubled zip-lock bag.

Easy Glamping Food to serve as a side dish at your Tiki Bar!
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
½ cup fresh corn kernels
½ cup frozen peas
3 cups cooked jasmine rice
2 cups diced fresh pineapple sprinkled in white rum
8 strips of bacon, cooked crisp diced
2 green onions, sliced
½ cup fresh minced cilantro
1 cucumber sliced, ½ cup cashews, and fresh lime wedges to serve on the side

COOKING MUSIC SELECTION: The eliminators Dawn Patrol

Cut fresh pineapple into chunks. In a medium size bowl, sprinkle rum over pineapple and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place bowl to chill in the refrigerator.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat or bitchin righteous griddle. Add eggs. Cook and stir until set; remove from the skillet and keep warm.

In the same skillet, sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper, & carrots in oil until tender. Add shrimp and sauté together until shrimp is white. Add in the rice, bacon, rum pineapple, corn, peas and green onions; heat through. Combine the rest of the ingredients; stir into rice mixture. 

Serve with lime wedges, cashews and slices of fresh cucumber. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve hot.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Amazing Cocktail Recipes ~ Exotica Zombie Punch

Looking for something fun to do this weekend?  Try your hand at one of my tested and AMAZING COCKTAIL RECIPES COLLECTION!

Once you begin this Tiki cocktail adventure, you may find yourself collecting exotic rums from all over the world! Start with our local favorite: Smugglers Cove, in San Francisco. Check out their book here.
¾ cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 ¼ cups fresh lime juice
1 cup grenadine
¾ cup cinnamon-infused syrup
½ oz. absinthe
½ oz. Angostura bitters
2 ¼ cups aged Jamaican rum
Cinnamon stick, for garnish
1 shot of 151-proof rum
Pineapple crescents and leaves, for garnish
Grapefruit peel, for garnish
Orchids, for garnish
Lime hull with flesh and pith removed, for garnish

Make the cinnamon-infused simple syrup: In a small pot, combine sugar, ½ cup water, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil until sugar has dissolved. Let cool and strain before using.

Combine over-proof and aged Jamaican rums, lime and grapefruit juices, grenadine, and cinnamon syrups in a large punch bowl. Add absinthe, and Angostura bitters.
Immediately before serving, add a liberal amount of crushed ice. Buzz mixture with cocktail blender and pour into prepared vessel, preferably a zombie skull.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks, pineapple crescents, pineapple leaves, grapefruit peel, and orchids.

Fill empty lime hull with 151-proof rum. Ignite before serving. Mind your eye brows and drink at your own delicious risk.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Amazing Cocktail Recipes ~ Macadamia Nut Chi Chi

I have a secret obsession that I must share with you.  This is seriously good.  I have never been a froo froo girly cocktail drinker, well until THIS!  When I'm in Oakland, I always find myself longing for a tiki bar excursion to the Kona Club.

From the Kona Club, Oakland CA

The magic of this drink...
4 ounces vodka
2 1/2 ounces macadamia nut liqueur
8 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces coconut cream
2 cups ice
Garnish: umbrella


Add all ingredients to a blender.
Blend until smooth.
Pour into two tiki mugs or tall fancy glasses.
Garnish with an umbrella.

Brace yourself for the best grown up milkshake EVER!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Almazan Kitchen ~ Beautiful Food Porn from Serbia!

My new favorite foodie stalking YouTube Channel...

Check it out, seriously.

This is the single most beautiful cooking channel I have EVER seen online.  Real food, fresh, home made everything - and cooking outdoors. 

PURE BEAUTY IN EVERY WAY!  It gives a whole new definition to FOOD PORN!

Mac & Cheese like you have never seen it.

Stone cooked steak!

Best Cheeseburger ever cooked in the forest!

Thank you Chef Boki!
I love your show, your style and Mr.Ramsay the Owl!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Irish Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict

Wonder what to do with the leftover Corned Beef from St. Patrick’s Day? TRY THIS!

Irish Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups cooked and diced corned beef
6 small new potatoes, finely chopped
½ onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1 teaspoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
2 English muffins, split and toasted
chives, thinly sliced

COOKING MUSIC SELECTION:  Dropkick Murphys - "Rose Tattoo"

For hash: Pour oil into a skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add corned beef and sauté for 2 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining hash ingredients and cook together for 7 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings and set aside.

For poached eggs: Crack each egg into its own ramekin and set aside. Fill a medium pot with about 4 inches of water; add vinegar and bring to a boil. Using a whisk, create a small whirlpool in the water and carefully add eggs, one at a time, into the center of the whirlpool. Cover and remove from heat. Allow eggs to poach for about 4 to 6 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon. Bring water back to a boil and repeat until all eggs have been poached.

To assemble: Place an English muffin half onto a plate, cut-side up. Top with a heaping amount of hash followed by a poached egg. Finish with a generous drizzle of hollandaise and a sprinkle of chives. ENJOY!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tandoori Chicken Wings with Sweet Mango Yogurt Sauce

Want a good super bowl wing recipe? Try this one!  These wings are usually the first empty plate on game day. ENJOY!

I love Oakland Raider fans to the bone! (I adore the San Francisco 49ers too!) LOVE THE SUPERBOWL!  Let's have a yummy one this year!

½ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon hot paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
24 whole chicken wings
For garish:
Cilantro sprigs
thinly sliced white onion, Lemon wedges, for serving

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
1 cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
½ cup finely chopped mint
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients and pour into a large zip lock bag and add the chicken wings.  Close the bag and mix well. Place bag in the fridge to marinade and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Next, make the yogurt sauce. In a blender, add together all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Set up a grill for direct and indirect cooking, then light the grill and oil the grate. Remove the wings from the marinade, scraping off all but a thin layer. Grill over moderately high heat, turning, until the wings are lightly charred all over, about 8 minutes. Move to indirect heat, cover and cook at 425° until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a wing registers 165°, about 15 minutes. 

Transfer the wings to a platter and garnish with cilantro sprigs and thinly sliced white onion. Serve with the yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Creamy Comfort Tortellini Sausage & Spinach Soup

Here is a comforting soup that is a hearty meal all by itself.  Try any type of tortellini for this soup recipe. It goes great with a side of garlic bread or focaccia.

Warm your soul with this comforting soup.
3 teaspoons butter
1 ½ pounds ground Italian sausage, browned
1 large onion, minced
3 large carrots, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
6 cups chicken stock
¼ cup cornstarch
1 large packet three cheese tortellini
5 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream

In a medium sized stockpot, melt the butter and add the sausage, onion, and garlic over medium heat to brown them together.  Add the carrots, celery, chicken bouillon, and broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and skim any fat that is sitting on the top of the soup with a spoon; discard. Stir in the cornstarch mixture with the evaporated milk, and milk.  Add the tortellini and cover again and cook on medium until the tortellini is soft and cooked through.

Add in the spinach, pressing the leaves down to completely submerse into the liquid. Cover again for a further 5-10 minutes until the leaves have wilted. Last, add the heavy cream and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.  ENJOY!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fresh Dungeness Crab Feast Holiday Dinner Recipe!


Every year my birthday happens around the time you put up your Christmas tree in December.  It’s usually the coldest and wettest days of the year here in San Francisco, but to make up for all of the not so fun weather there is the opening of live Dungeness Crab Season!  

Once you have experienced a real fresh Dungeness Crab dinner, you will never be the same!  I love it so much, I make it an annual birthday Crab Feast Birthday Celebration. 

You can go down to the Pier in San Francisco and get the best crab ever! I take a big cooler on wheels and go down to San Pedro Point in Half Moon Bay and buy the biggest live crabs I can find right from the crab boats on the docks.  This year they were $4.99 per pound.  They came out to be $10 - $11.00 each.  Huge beauties. So good!  They were better than ever this year.  

Over the years, I will add something new to my crab feast serving set-up.  It’s hard to believe it, but I have many crab butter warmer sets now. On top of white linen tablecloths, I cover the feasting table with newspapers. Big serving plates, side plates for hot hand towels. I fill big bowls full of cracked crab all along the center of the table and then have medium sized empty bowls for shells.  It’s a serious production that is well worth the investment.

I ask my guests to bring bubbly and wine.  I make some side dishes, but the crab is so sweet and rich, you really don’t need much for side dishes, a token casserole and salad, French bread with butter is perfect.

Many folks out here in the San Francisco bay area make it a Christmas feast main course every year as well.  

Fresh Hot San Francisco Style Dungeness Crab!
For the crab:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 (2-pound) whole live Dungeness crab (Off the boat, if you can get them)
For serving:
Sliced fresh lemon
Warm melted salted butter

COOKING MUSIC SELECTION: Cocoa Tea- "Crab Dem" + Dub Dem

Special equipment: Big pot with a fitted lid and a burner big and hot enough to make a rapid boil in.

Fresh live crab should be purchased and cooked the same day—the crabs can only be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours once taken out of their holding tanks. 

The hardest part of cooking live crab, is the killing them part.  I find that it is most humane to keep them cold and wet for the shortest amount of time and then, make it quick, by putting them directly into rapid boiling water.
If you’re cooking more than one crab at a time, calculate the average weight by taking the total weight of the crabs and dividing by the number of crabs you have. Use this average weight to determine your total boiling time, about 7 to 8 minutes per pound. And be sure to use an extra-large pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water, crab boil seasoning and stir in the salt. (Be sure your pot has a tight fitting lid.) Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Wearing thick gloves, carefully pick up the live crab, grasping it from behind and place it into the boiling water. Cover and return the water to a full boil, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium high and steam until the crab is cooked through, about 15 minutes more.  Using tongs, remove the crab to a colander and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.

Place the crab belly side up on a cutting board with the face closest to you. Using your hands or the tip of a knife, lift the triangular piece of shell at the tail of the crab (the apron), break it off, and discard. Pick up the crab with your hands, place a thumb in the hole where the apron was, and pull in one motion to remove the top shell (the carapace) from the rest of the body. Discard the carapace.

Place the crab belly side down on the cutting board with the tail closest to you. Remove and discard the soft, pointy gills from the body. Break off and discard the mouthpiece (the mandibles). Pull away any loose fragments from the body and discard. Rinse away any viscera under cold water. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it.

Place the crab on the cutting board back side up and cut in half from face to tail through the middle of the body. If desired, cut the crab into smaller pieces by slicing between the legs, making sure to cut through the body. I like to sprinkle the hot crab piled into big bowls with Old Bay Seasoning right before serving.
To extract the meat, use seafood crackers or small hammers to crack open the claws, legs, and body. Serve with melted butter and fresh baked San Francisco crusty French bread. THE BEST EVER!