mini strawberry layer cakes with fresh cream

IMG_6842The perfect little dessert for any occasion, these cakes are tailored for Valentine’s Day with bright red strawberries, fresh cream, chocolate zest and mint.

Use your favorite vanilla/white cake recipe
Add 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Add 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Large 6-well cupcake pan

Fresh Whipped Cream
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 Tb pure granulated sugar
1 Tb vanilla extract

Cleaned and sliced strawberries
Dark chocolate zest
Fresh mint leaves

Make cake batter according to your recipe, adding the additional ingredients listed above (lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract). Pour each cupcake well 3/4 full of cake batter and bake according to directions. Once finished, let cool.

In a blender, mix together the heavy cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Blend on medium-high until stiff peaks form.

Using a perforated knife, cut each oversized cupcake into three layers.

Layer cupcakes with whipping cream, strawberries and mint. Repeat. Once the top layer is finished, zest dark chocolate over the whipped cream and top with a strawberry or two and a fresh mint leaf.

Place mini cakes on a heart shaped doilie on a cake stand. Place fresh mint leaves all around to fill white space.

Place mini cakes on a heart shaped doilie on a cake stand. Place fresh mint leaves all around to fill white space.

love in elysian park

Finding Love in Elysian Park Burger
Last summer the TODAY show held a “Burger Battle” in search of the best original burger recipe and the inspiration behind it. I thought, “Why not?” I made taste testers out of my family. My son wouldn’t try it but my daughter (the more adventurous eater) and husband gave me a thumbs up.

I wasn’t contacted by the TODAY show, clearly a mistake (haha) but their contest did present me the occasion to create something special. So I am sharing my inspiration and recipe on Valentine’s Eve because it’s all about the LOVE.

My Valentine's Day Inspiration

My parent’s at the Los Angeles Police Academy – my Valentine’s Day Inspiration

When I reflect upon the quintessential “
Valentine Lovebirds,” I think of my mom and dad who lived a loving, healthy and happy marriage, on par with few I have seen. My parents met at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park in 1964. An unlikely duo from the outset, he being 14 years her senior with a wild past and she being a mere girl of 18 who always followed the rules. He was a Lieutenant at the time and she was a secretary to the Chief. I’m pretty certain my dad visited that office more than was actually necessary. They fell head over heels in love and were married in June of 1966.

June 4, 1966

“The Glass Chapel” in Palos Verdes, California – June 4, 1966

 They were a true fairy tale couple who were the personification of love for 45 years (my father died unexpectedly in 2008). Both of my parents were fiercely proud of their heritage and my sister and I were raised with the same pride. My dad the dark Irish, and my mom, the beautiful “Jackie O” look-alike with strong Mexican roots, somehow grew into the perfect couple.

My loving family

My loving family (my sister being goofy and me, obviously with a full diaper)

This recipe is a tribute to the uniqueness that gave me my Irish Mexican heritage and to the love that bloomed in Elysian Park, California in 1964. Happy Valentine’s Day.

1 pound organic ground sirloin
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced cooked corned beef (have corned beef shaved thin in the deli)
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed) and finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tb dried oregano
1 Tb country Dijon mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tb Jameson Irish whiskey
Three-pepper Colby cheese, thinly sliced
1, 14 oz. can sauerkraut, drained
1 small head of Frisee lettuce
Fresh Rye bread
Olive oil

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Yummy burger layered with hints of corned beef and jalapeño

Preheat grill. Add all ingredients through the Jameson Irish whiskey to a large glass bowl. Gently mix all ingredients together (use your clean hands if desired). From ground sirloin mixture, form three 1/3 pound patties. Lower grill heat and place patties on aluminum foil on the grill and grill about 4 minutes on each side. Once grease has melted off, place burgers directly on grill for another two to three minutes per side.

In a sauté pan, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the drained sauerkraut to the pan and sauté until browned.

Brush each side of the Rye bread with olive oil and a little melted butter and grill for about 1 to 2 minutes per side (don’t overcook).

Grilled Rye lightly brushed with Olive oil and butter

Rye bread perfectly crusty after being brushed lightly with Olive oil and butter and grilled

Add burger to bread and top with three-pepper Colby cheese, browned sauerkraut, and frisee lettuce. *You can add extra dijon to the grilled bread if desired.

Chow down. Seriously amazing burger. A shot of whiskey or tequila is optional BUT highly recommended.

polka dot love cake


2 boxed white cake mixes (plus oil, water and eggs to make them according to the package)
Your favorite buttercream frosting
Sprinkles or decorations
Food dye
Cake ball maker or pans

Make one of the cakes according to the package directions. Separate the batter into different bowls and use food gels to dye it the colors you want your balls to be.

Following the directions on your cake ball maker, make cake balls in different colors using your dyed batter. When cake balls are done, set them aside to cool. Set your oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spray 3 – 6 inch round cake pans with oil and set a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each one.

Make the other cake mix following the directions on the box.

Spread a thin layer of cake batter in the bottom of each pan, place cake balls on top in any pattern that you choose. Divide remaining batter evenly over cake balls so that they are completely covered.

Bake cake layers at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I used a toothpick inserted into the middle to check for doneness.

When cakes are done, flip them over onto a clean towel to cool.

Trim the cakes so that they will stack flat. Frost your completely cooled cake and decorate.

Slice your cake and sit back and listen to all the oohs and ahhs.



PicMonkey Collage


[gal] entine’s day lunch

Galentine's 1 CollageAhhhhh…the month of LOVE. Yes, there are reminders and not so subtle hints everywhere we look. And while we have no shortage of love or devotion for our spouses, there are those people in our lives that fill a special place.

I, for one, would be lost without the love, dedication, spirit, sarcasm, thoughtfulness and humor of my girlfriends. If you think about it, we have girlfriends wherever we turn. Not every single one has to be a BFF. There is a certain camaraderie, understanding and sympathy from the ladies in our lives. Maybe it’s the school receptionist you share an orthodontist story with while signing out your child for yet another appointment. Maybe it’s the woman standing behind you in line at the grocery store as you commiserate about the challenge of getting a hot and relatively healthy meal on the table for your family. Maybe it’s a stranger you encounter in the dressing room at Nordstrom asking for your opinion… Girlfriends are all around us and should be CELEBRATED.

We hosted a Galentine’s Lunch for some special GALS we are lucky enough to call girlfriends….Whatever you do this February 14th, be sure to give some love to the girlfriends that give it back to you time and time again {our Galentine’s Lunch recipes will be on the blog this Friday}. Follow this easy, step-by-step guide to create your own unique Valentine’s day occasion…

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