For Noelle’s “Stay Wild Moon Child” themed 30th birthday, I promised her an out-of-this world cake. When I realized I committed to making a fondant covered, sponge painted creation (both of which I have no experience with) I found myself searching for a solution. “Galaxy” donuts have been a thing lately, so I decided to use donut glace icing for the cake frosting. With a little bit of pixie dust, this cake turned out sparkling and better than I could have imagined!

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Galaxy Cake
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Devil’s Food cake mix
2-1/2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Star sprinkles
Black food coloring
Topping
2 containers of store-bought buttercream frosting

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DIRECTIONS:
Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased.  Sprinkle with star sprinkles.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

Topping

  1. When ready to serve, spread frosting between each layer. Top with glacé icing (below).

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Glacé Icing
From Whisk and Wander
INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, no need to sift
1/4-3/4 cup water, room temp
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Blue, red and black food coloring
Silver pixie dust (optional)
DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add confectioners’ sugar.
  2. With mixer on low speed slowly add water to sugar a little at a time until icing is spreadable but not too thin.
  3. Mix until all sugar is dissolved and icing looks smooth. About 4 minutes. Scraping sides as necessary.
  4. Slowly add food coloring and swirl with fork.  I started with a couple drops of blue, a few red (to create purple) and a tiny hint of black.  Swirly gently to create the galaxy effect.
  5. When desired color has been achieved, pour slowly pour over cake to ensure maximum coverage.
  6. Spread around sides to completely cover cake. Top with silver pixie dust for additional shimmer

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Recently, Kevin and I have realized we’ve gotten our hiking lunches down to a science.  These 3 ingredients pack so easily and do not require a cooler or refrigeration.  They’re easy to stuff into a sack and prepare on the trail.  This has led to some of our most epic lunches.

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What you need:

  • Stick of Hard Salami (or package of salami)
  • Package of Babybel Cheese
  • Bread (ciabatta or Sprouts sometimes has these sliced half-loaves)

Other tools:

    • Swiss Army Knife
    • Summit beers (definitely necessary!) 😉

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’Tis the season for birthdays and cakes! I promised Noelle an out of this world galaxy cake for her “stay wild moon child” themed birthday party. However, I didn’t realize how intensive the cake was that I originally agreed to bake (like fondant with metallic sponge painted on it). So I completely improvised and ended up with quite a creation (recipe to come)!

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The following week it was my faux-little sister’s 16th birthday. Her favorite cake is the coconut cake at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas, so I tried to re-create it. I ended up with 4 layers of incredibly dense coconut cake (I think the cake probably weighed around 20lbs in general) that tasted like a coconut macaroon (another cake recipe to come).

The week after was my brother’s birthday, but instead of baking him a cake, we met up for dinner at the new Star Wars movie. Little did I know, this would mark the first of VERY MANY movies for the week. Monday kicked it off with Star Wars, followed by Office Christmas Party on Tuesday, Manchester by the Sea on Saturday, Jackie on Sunday, and Passengers on Monday.

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My dad and I spent Christmas in Palm Desert visiting my grandparents and I managed to sneak off for a repeat of last year’s Christmas Day trail run (probably one of my most favorite trails). The day after Christmas, on my way home, I stopped by the Indian Canyons and ended up doing 3 miles on the Palm Canyon Trail. Originally I thought I might just head out half a mile and come back, but I just kept walking about a mile out. I also wanted to avoid the crowds coming back, so I opted for the Victor Trail, a higher route (that ended up being a mile longer than the way out) but it gave me both different views and a different perspective of the hike. This was a nice loop and it spit me out essentially right where I started (even though I wasn’t 100% certain where it might lead me).

Weekly Workout Recap (12/5-12/11):
Mon – Rest
Tues – Sculpt @ BodyROK + Restorative Yoga @ Fortis and & YOGALUX
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – 6 mi
Sun – 6 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 12 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 3
2016 miles: 798 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (12/12-12/18):
Mon – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method + Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Deep Stretch @ YogaSix
Tues – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Rest
Sun – 4.2 mi
Total Weekly Mileage: 4.2 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 6
2016 miles: 802.2 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (12/19-12/25):
Mon – Rest
Tues – Full Body @ Core40 + Bootcamp @ Yoga Six + Softball
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Bootcamp @ Yoga Six
Fri – Bootcamp @ Yoga Six
Sat – Rest
Sun – 6 mi Garstin Trail run
Total Weekly Mileage: 6 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 5
2016 miles: 802.2 mi

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San Diego Restaurant is happening, now through Sunday, January 22nd!

Tuesday night, Kevin and I stepped out of our North County bubble and traveled down to The Smoking Goat in North Park for San Diego Restaurant Week. North Park has such a wide array of good restaurants, I just never seem to make the trek. For example, I’m pretty sure The Smoking Goat has been on my “to-try” restaurant list for the past 6-7 years, so I’m glad San Diego Restaurant Week gave me the chance.

The Smoking Goat is a French bistro with a rustic farmhouse vibe that definitely fits the San Diego food scene. The restaurant week menu provides a good representation of what The Smoking Goat normally serves, while only priced at $40 for 3-courses.

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To start, we ordered the French Onion Soup with oxtail broth, crouton and Swiss gruyere and the Foie Gras Torchon with fig preserve and toast. The French Onion Soup had a flavor that was reminiscent of Thanksgiving (perhaps the flavor from the bay leaf?). And the Foie Gras did not disappoint since it’s one of my favorite things (and I don’t think I’ve had it since I studied abroad in Paris basically 7 years go!).

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Our waiter was very knowledgeable and helped me select a Cotes du Rhone to pair with my entree, the Duck Confit. If you haven’t noticed a trend, duck is my absolute favorite! The Duck Confit was accompanied by a sweet potato-oyster mushroom hash, rapini and black truffle jus. And for Kev’s second course, he ordered the Compart Farms Duroc Pork Chop with potato-bacon gratin and braised kale. Both of our dishes were very moist and flavorful, and we completely devoured them.

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This season, San Diego Restaurant Week partnered up with the Girl Scouts of America to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scout Cookies, so chef’s created dishes that incorporated this treat. We found this collaboration in the Chocolate Pot de Creme dessert that came with Girl Scout trefoils shortbread cookies and espresso cream. Of course we had to try one of each dessert, so we also ordered the Apple Cobbler with stone fruit and coconut-oat streusel.

Everything was absolutely top notch! One of my favorite things about San Diego Restaurant Week is that it makes me try new places. And through this format, we’ve always been able to sample a selection of dishes that leave us wanting to come back another time to try more.

The Smoking Goat 

3408 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104

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Thank you to The Smoking Goat for hosting me! As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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November was a month I didn’t seem to sit still. The first weekend of November was spent down in Mexico in the gated community of Las Gaviotas for Deb’s birthday. I successfully baked and transported a rainbow layered cake, and successfully made it back over the border in less than 2 hours!

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The next weekend London and I took another trip up to Venice for our friend Jhoel’s birthday where we celebrated at the LA Beer Fest. With Hawaii on our mind for Christmas/New Year’s, we buzzed-ly decided, ya we “co-habitate”, and signed up signed up for a timeshare presentation (which we ended up getting too sketched out to go to). We also ran into our friend Hoppy Beer Hoppy Life who had a booth and scored some newly designed hats.

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Fast forward to the next weekend we celebrated Friendsgiving and I made my favorite German Chocolate Pecan Pie. Time seemed to fly, because the next week was already Thanksgiving. I went to Jen’s Thanksgiving for the third year in a row and brought a brown butter sage roasted sweet potato dish (recipe doubled). And on Black Friday, I decided to #optoutside again this year with a hike at Palomar Mountain while simultaneously “dealing with the past” (which surprisingly ended up being and has become a good thing).

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Leading into December, London and I went back up to LA (ironically the day we were supposed to go to our time share presentation in Encino LOLOL) for the Unique LA holiday market where London’s friend had a booth. We made sure to stop somewhere truly LA to eat where we saw someone insta-famous and simultaneously turned to each other and said “that’s @___!“ We immediately we felt better about our choice to devour brunch at Urth Cafe including breakfast “apps” (appetizers), an establishment where someone Insta bikini famous ate!

Weekly Workout Recap (10/31-11/6):
Mon – 3 mi + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Tues – Rest
Wed – 4 mi + Power Flow @YogaSix
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – Rest
Total Weekly Mileage: 7 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 2
2016 miles: 768.5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (11/7-11/13):
Mon – The Mixed Level @ The Bar Method + 3 mi
Tues – Full Body @ Core40
Wed – 4 mi run
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – Rest
Total Weekly Mileage: 7 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 3
2016 miles: 775.5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (11/14-11/20):
Mon – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method + 3 mi
Tues – Full Body @ Core40 + Bootcamp @ YogaSix + Climbing
Wed – 3.5 mi run
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Rest
Sat – Sculpt @ BodyROK
Sun – Rest
Total Weekly Mileage: 6.5 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 5
2016 miles: 782 mi
Weekly Workout Recap (11/21-11/27):
Mon – Hot Yoga @ Yoga Tropics
Tues – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Hike @ Palomar Mountain
Sat – Rest
Sun – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 4
2016 miles: 782 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (11/28-12/4):
Mon – Hot Yoga @ Yoga Tropics
Tues – Full Body @ Core40
Wed – 4 mi
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method
Sat – Rest
Sun – Rest
Total Weekly Mileage:
Number of cross-training workouts: 3
2016 miles: 786 mi

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Biggest question for 2017: do I still want to be a blogger?

In 2016, this blog slowly started to die.  The concept of “daily cup” and “daily doses” doesn’t really seem to fit anymore.  When I first started this blog circa 2013, I read a lot of running bloggers who ran race after race, leaving me feeling inspired, but also like I needed to race frequently to build content.  Last year, I ran 2 whole races, which left me with not so much content.  I don’t really run and I don’t really write.

Long gone are the days when I’d spend Sundays meal prepping an entire week’s worth of food – breakfasts, snacks, and lunches, always with a plan/recipe for dinner. Meal prepping is no longer in my vernacular. It’s more like make 1 recipe a week to spread out 5 days for lunch. And I never plan for dinners anymore because it’s something I just can’t really plan.

In a way, I feel like “blogging” has become so predictable.  It’s hard to be creative and innovative when it feels like you can Google something and find it on someone else’s blog. Blogs are like the new half marathons (everyone’s done one) and half marathons are the new marathons.

So what do I want? I want to share things and experiences that I can’t find online when I do my research (for example, backpacking Cactus to Clouds, La Croix can costumes, and pieced together layer cake recipes).  I want to rebrand this blog (because the title and tagline just don’t make sense anymore). And I want to write more in general (just maybe not about myself on a weekly basis).

So…let’s see what happens in 2017!

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The best gift I received this year (and maybe ever) is my Nespresso.

It’s the gift that never stops giving. Not only do a I enjoy a warm cup of a FROTHY latte first thing in the morning, EVERY MORNING, from the comfort of my own home…but I’m also saving money.  This is why you need to get your loved one THE GIFT OF ENDLESS COFFEE.

For 70-80 cents per pod…I just purchased 70 capsules (aka 70 cups worth) for the equivalent of 8-10 of my “fancy coffee” drinks (and allows me to drink 2-3 cups guilt-free daily…)

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And not only do I enjoy my Nespresso at home, we recently just bought one for the office from William’s Sonoma at Westfield UTC (the whole store smelled like one big holiday pie).

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Now purchasing Nespresso pods is even easier with the new Nespresso store at Westfield UTC. PLUS it’s equipped with a tasting station where you can “try” those brand new holiday flavors you’ve never ever tried before (or maybe just have 3 sleeves of waiting at home… ;-)).  When you’re thinking of what to put on your wish list or what you should get someone this holiday season…trust me and GIVE THE GIFT OF NESPRESSO!

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For Deb’s birthday, she dreamed of a rainbow layer cake. So I came up with this cake and then transported it all the way down to Mexico.  My process of baking it earlier in the week (to avoid any stress – cakes take a lot of time!), cooling, freezing and thawing the cake lent itself to the most dense, moist and delicious cake ever.

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4-Layer Rainbow Coconut Cake
Coconut cake adapted from Homemade Interest

INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 box White cake mix
16 oz sour cream
1/2 c Vegetable oil
6 eggs
2 cups coconut cream (I used the cream on top of full fat canned coconut milk. ~2 cans)
Food coloring
Topping
2 containers of store-bought cream cheese frosting
Sweetened shredded coconut
Cake topper from Amazon

DIRECTIONS:
Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix cake mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, and cream of coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Separate batter evenly into 4 different bowls. Add desired food coloring to each respective bowl.
  4. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased.
  5. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  6. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  7. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  8. Freeze overnight. Remove from freezer and let thaw in refrigerator.

Toppings

  1. When ready to serve, spread cream cheese frosting between each layer and around exterior of cake.
  2. Completely top with sweetened coconut flakes.

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One of my favorite things to do the first of every month is to read my Susan Miller horoscope. Since Mercury will go retrograde during the holiday season, it’s suggested I get my holiday shopping done this month. While it might seem early, that’s what has me thinking already.

This Christmas I’m looking to shop Uncommon Goods. I love how everything is handmade and artisanal, making each gift feel like it’s one-of-a-kind.  Uncommon Goods also makes shopping easy, with Christmas Gifts for Women and Christmas Gifts for Men collections.

Here are some of my favorite finds on Uncommon Goods —

uncommongoods_plantsRight now, one my favorite things are home accents, especially indoor plants. They can add so much vibrancy and completely change a space. This hanging planter is really cool and so is this succulent living wall planter kit!

uncommongoods_kitchenThe kitchen is also another important place where gifts are always welcomed. This reclaimed wood cookbook stand ads just a bit of rustic flavor to the kitchen, and I like how raw and natural these stoneware pieces look.

uncommongoods_babiesAnd even though I don’t have any babies, and don’t really have too many friends with babies yet (Kendall said I can get these for her in 4-5 years…) I’m obsessed with these swaddling and bootie collections that look like food!!

While the gifts on Uncommon Goods are unique, the company is also different in that it’s a B Corp meaning it’s been evaluated based on areas including company governance, environmental practices, and impacts on the local community.

Where are you planning to do your holiday shopping?

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Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Uncommon Goods. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am constantly bored with lunches. I easily get over salads. And I leave sandwiches for when I’m feeling really uncreative. In my meal planning these days (which basically means making my lunch), I’ve been looking to Naturally Ella for recipes. The picture for this recipe enticed me enough to give it a shot! I am not a fan of garlic or onions (both hurt my stomach for some reason), so I omitted them. Check the original recipe if you’d rather add both.

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Ginger Brown Rice with Carrots
From Naturally Ella
1 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
2 hardboiled eggs, for serving
DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium low heat. Add in ginger, and cook until it becomes fragrant (roughly 2 minutes). Stir in shredded carrots and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and sesame seeds. Pour over carrot mixture and cook until heated through.
  3. Finally, stir in rice and cook for 3-4 minutes or until rice is warm.
  4. Serve with toasted coconut.

 

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