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The Whiskey Sweetheart

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I've had this idea for a Valentine's themed cocktail since the beginning of the year.  I knew I wanted it to be pretty and of course, pink!  I love whiskey sours, but wanted to make something sweeter for the holiday of love.  I decided to make my version, sweet and pink, but of course still have the egg white frothiness that I love!  I think most people think of wine and champagne as being the ultimate booze of romance on Valentine's Day -- but I thought, what about the people who want a pretty and fun cocktail?  Well, here it is, the Whiskey Sweetheart made with pink lemonade and a little bit of Maraschino cherry syrup to give it that hue of blushing cheeks.  I used Maker's Mark for the recipe, but you can use whatever your little heart desires!

I personally loved how it turned out, but I tend to lean on the sweeter side of things, so warning, it IS very SWEET! But, the lemonade adds a nice zip of sour.  If you'd like, you can also add fresh squeezed lemon juice to tone down the cherry flavor.

Enjoy!  

The Whiskey Sweetheart

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Cara Cara Cake

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I dedicate this recipe to my late Grandmother, Patricia Redfield.  Today is her birthday and I think she would have really enjoyed this! Cheers Ama! 

Citrus season is here and now is the time to take full advantage of oranges, lemons and grapefruits!  Southern California is a particularly special place to live for citrus.  I was at the famers market recently and saw so many varieties of oranges! The ones that really caught my eye were the Cara Caras.  Not only because they look like my name spelled with a C, but they have the most beautiful pink flesh on the inside!  They are not as dark as blood oranges, but more of a coral pink hue… absolutely gorgeous!  I bought a bag and let my mind wander about how I could make the most of their flavor.  Got it!  I would make a Cara Cara Cake! Using the zest and juice to flavor the batter and the slices themselves to serve as decor.

I have truly fallen in love with cake baking, there is something about the entire process that makes me so genuinely happy.  I love mixing the batter, pouring it into the round pans and then of course decorating — the freedom of creativity is exciting to me.  I still have a lot of practicing to do and I know I will get better, but for now I’m really having fun figuring it out!

For this cake, I wanted to utilize the Cara Cara flavor with a white cake and classic buttercream frosting.  The zest and juice was perfect for the batter, gave it just the right amount of flavor!  I had originally intended for the frosting to be an soft orange hue, but it turned out more pink — still looks good though!  I did cheat a little with flavoring the frosting, I didn’t know if the juice would be strong enough so I added actual orange extract. Decorating was much easier though thanks to my new spinning cake stand I got for my birthday in December! (Thanks Mom)!  There’s nothing like frosting a cake as it spins, made me feel like an almost professional.  

For the cake topper, I knew I wanted to use the actual oranges somehow, so I made a mix of Cara Cara slices and regular orange slices and dried them in the oven for a couple of hours with sugar. For my first attempt at drying oranges, I think I did an okay job — they looked pretty on the cake! 

I recommend you make this cake before these oranges are gone! Have fun and be as creative at you want with your cake decor! 

If you live in California or any of the southern states, you should be able to find Cara Cara's right now at your local farmers market and some grocery stores. I found the ones I used for this recipe at my farmers market, but also saw them featured at Bristol Farms.

Because these particular oranges are so delicious, I thought I would share some facts I learned about them from Specialty Produce!

  • Cara Cara oranges are a good source for vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, protein and the caroteniod, lycopene, which gives them their pink color. 
  • Cara Cara oranges are an ideal balance of sweetness and acidity, making them suitable for fresh eating, juices, jams, sauces, baking and used in pan sauces. 
  • The Cara Cara orange has been branded by Sunkist as the "Power Orange" due to its higher levels of nutrients compared to other orange varieties. 
  • The first Cara Cara orange was found growing on a Washington navel orange tree in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela, hence its given name. It was introduced to the United States in the early 1980s and now grows in California, Florida and Texas. 
  • It tastes sweeter than any other orange with flavors far more comparable to tangerines.
  • Its flesh is seedless.

Recipe adapted from Ris Lacoste at Fine Cooking

Cara Cara Cake

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Apple-Cheddar-Sausage Cinnamon Rolls

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Sometimes I like to think about how I can make one of my very favorite breakfast items more elaborate -- in this case, my victim was the cinnamon roll.  Of course, the cinnamon roll is a pastry classic and incredibly delicious in its given form, but with the changing of the seasons, I was inspired to give the breakfast standard a sexy-seasonal makeover.  I decided to add apples, cheddar cheese and ground sausage -- mixing that cinnamon sweetness with savory cheddar, tart apples and spicy sausage just sounded too tempting NOT to try.  Have I piqued your interest?

The best part is, I made this recipe the easy way with pre-made Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Roll dough. We don't always have time to make dough from scratch, so I wanted to give myself and you a break.  It's okay, we can cheat a little bit sometimes!  There will be a day where I make these guys totally from scratch and I'm sure they will be incredible, but for now, let's thank that little squishy and ticklish dough boy for saving us an hour! 

The recipe is listed below and ready for you to print, BUT I just want to give you the specifics on what I used.  If you can, go for the Fuji red apples.  They shouldn't be mealy.  They have a crisp bite that's a little sweet and a little tart.  For the cheese, go for the sharpest cheddar you can find, yellow or white. The contrast with the apples is sinfully good!  For sausage, I would have liked to have gotten it fresh from a butcher and cooked it myself, but again sometimes there's no time and you have to buy Jimmy Dean Ground Sausage! It makes putting these rolls together much easier.

These apple-cheddar-sausage cinnamon rolls are the best thing on a chilly fall morning! Heat them up and serve with a side of scrambled eggs and your favorite coffee or tea -- breakfast complete! They are also great to take to a friends house for a brunch party!  Tell me what you think of this recipe in the comments below!

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The Best Horchata Frappuccinos

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I was inspired to create this recipe after an incredible evening at LA's Mexicano Restaurant with Chefs Jet Tila, Jaime Martin Del Campo and Chef Ramiro Arizu for a dinner collaboration with the Thai Trade Center.  Wait, Mexican Food & Thai Food? How does this work?  Interestingly enough, chefs Jaime and Ramiro love to use the very best rice in the world at their restaurants -- Hom Mali Jasmine Rice, the rice of Thailand.  

"Thai Jasmine Rice is, without a doubt, the link between Thai and Mexican cuisine" says Chef Ramiro.  These chefs love to use it because of it's subtle flora aroma and soft, sticky texture when cooked.  The grains are also shorter and thicker than Spanish rice.

During the dinner, we got to taste a lot of delicious creations featuring Hom Mali Jasmine Rice -- but my favorite was the Horchata Traditional.  Horchata has always been one of my favorite beverages.  The sweet, creamy rice milk mixed with cinnamon goes down so easy!  I had to cut myself off after three -- one with Kahlua. You can imagine how excited I was that I got to take the recipe home and make my very own Horchata!

After making the Horchata a few days later, I started thinking about what could be added to it to make it a special Summer treat.  How about espresso and blended ice? Maybe some whipped cream on top? Yes! Horchata Frappuccinos! 

I'm telling you, these are ah-maaazing! However, I was a little annoyed when Starbucks decided to release their version right after I created mine, but theirs isn't even made with real horchata, so mine definitely wins! Sorry Starbucks! 

The longest part of this recipe will be soaking the rice for three hours or overnight, other than that it's quick to put together! I recommend using any leftover cinnamon sticks for decorating your finished beverage -- your friends will be impressed by the presentation and of course the delicious flavors! If you do want to booze these up, Kahlua is a great addition...

Want more info?  Visit the links below!

www.mexicanola.com

www.thaitradeusa.com

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*Horchata recipe compliments Mexicano Restaurant

The Best Horchata Frappuccinos

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Girls Night In with SkinnyPop Popcorn: Coconut-Peanut-Lime Popcorn Cups!

When SkinnyPop Popcorn asked me, "If you could create your own unique popcorn snack, what would it be?" I thought very carefully about it!  When I think of popcorn, I definitely think of lounging, romantic comedies and being around friends.  That's when I knew my creation would have to be something perfect for a girl's night in.  I thought about flavors that would complement each other and of course, the popcorn. I decided that a sweet and salty mix of toasted coconut flakes, peanuts, lime zest and a coating of sweet coconut oil dressing would be my dream popcorn treat! Then I thought it would be perfect to serve this tropical popcorn in individual cups so friends could refill at anytime!  Adding a lime wedge for squeezing extra lime flavor on top was the perfect final touch.  

This recipe is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious!  All you need is a bag of SkinnyPop salted popcorn, a few limes, peanuts, coconut shreds, coconut oil and powdered sugar.  So round up your favorite movies and friends then munch the night away!  

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Mini White Peach & Rosemary Pies with Whiskey Whipped Cream

Making pie dough is something that truly brings me joy.  I have no idea why, it's pretty simple to put together, but there is just something calming to me about it! My go-to is the recipe from the one and only Alice Waters.  I love to mix in the cold butter and roll the mix around with my hands.  I love smoothing the rolling pin with dry flour and flattening out the cold dough to the perfect diameter.  This time, I wanted to try something different -- I thought, wonder if I made mini pies and put them in my muffin tin?! What a genius idea! I was certain no one else had ever thought of this, but thank you Google for proving me wrong for the umpteenth time.  Yes, it had been done before, but had anyone done with with my white peach and sage pie filling? I don't think so.  

Another love of mine are peaches...peaches are the very best thing about Summer in my opinion. They have such a distinct flavor that is slightly floral and perfectly sweet.  They are delicious at breakfast, in salads, on sandwiches, roasted, grilled, sautéed or raw -- there is no wrong way to eat a peach.  Of course they are one of the best pie fillings too!  I also enjoy pairing herbs with produce, I thought that rosemary would go marvelously well with these white peaches -- and it did!  

The success in these mini pies, was not only that they were delicious, but that they were so fun to hold in one hand and bite into!  Topped with whiskey whipped cream, they were truly a special treat.  Please try them out for your next baking adventure!  These peaches won't be Summer fresh too much longer.

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Watermelon Salad with Lime, Mint and Mizithra Cheese

I have always loved the concept of utilizing watermelon in salads during the Summer and am someone who definitely prefers fruit in my salad when it's possible!  I had the idea of making this salad awhile ago, but now that watermelon season is officially here, I could test it out. I really loved how all of the ingredients came together - the tangy lime in the dressing, the sweet fruit and the salty cheese.  This is a great refreshing salad that can be served any time of the day and it's pretty enough to be showcased at parties and BBQ's.  If you want to kick the flavor profile up a notch, I recommend sprinkling with some red pepper flakes! I tried it and it was also delicious.

Watermelon Salad with Lime, Mint and Mizithra Cheese

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Easy Sweet Ricotta Crepes with Berries and Peaches

Making crepes is so much fun and always so much easier than you think! You can literally fill them with anything!  In this recipe, I chose ricotta cheese as the filling because it was what I had in the refrigerator at the time, but you could use any kind of cheese, yogurt, jam or spread of your choice. However, I especially liked the thickness of the ricotta and how it paired with the strawberries, peaches and mint. 

Easy Sweet Ricotta Crepes with Berries and Peaches

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My Cocoa Tangerine Pancakes Win on NBC's Today Show

Photo by Nathan Congleton/Today

Photo by Nathan Congleton/Today

Last week, something incredible happened.  I was flown to NYC to be on NBC's the Today Show, presenting my recipe for Cocoa Tangerine Pancakes.  This was a recipe that I had recently developed but hadn't done anything with.  When I was watching the Today Show a couple of weeks ago, they called on recipes for their Ultimate Cook-Off, I figured I had nothing to lose -- even though I almost didn't enter!  Thank goodness for the voice in my head saying, "Ummm Tara, you would be really stupid, to NOT enter your recipe to this contest!" Thanks voice, you were so right!  

What I find so incredible about this event for me specifically, was that it was a very full-circle moment.  It was seven years ago almost to the day, that I took a trip by myself to New York.  I visited my good friend Emma and ate a lot of amazing food.  It was that food and that trip, that inspired me to launch The Food Pervert when I got back to LA.  It was my way of sharing my experiences with friends and family.  Nothing more.  This was way before "influencers" were a thing and even before "instagram" itself.  It was before smartphone cameras were the go-to for capturing food porn. It was before comped "media tastings" were expected. It was when everything was much simpler.  I miss those early days.  However, standing on the set of the Today Show, whisk in hand, to demonstrate a recipe that I created out of my genuine love for food and sharing it with others, I knew that my choice was right.  This path was mine and continues to be mine. 

I never had any expectations for this blog, it was just something I loved to do.  I am so grateful for the life it has provided me, the people it has brought to me and the lessons it has taught me. I look forward to where we go next!  Thank you for following.

Miss the episode? Watch below!


I never had any expectations for this blog, it was just something I loved to do.  I am so grateful for the life it has provided me, the people it has brought to me and the lessons it has taught me. I look forward to where we go next!  Thank you for following.

Miss the episode? Watch Here!

Want the recipe? Click here!

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Hot Pink Sweet Beet Deviled Eggs

If one has the option to serve bright pink deviled eggs or plain deviled eggs - why would you not choose pink?! Deviled eggs are one of my favorite go to snacks all year long! I'm also a huge fan of pickled things and beets - so this recipe is pretty much perfection for me!  It's so easy to soak your eggs in beet juice and vinegar overnight and serve them the next day! They taste sweet, salty and tangy and look oh so pretty!

Hot Pink Sweet Beet Deviled Eggs

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Lamb Sausage and Fig Pizza

Pizza, pizza, pizza! This is maybe one of the most delicious flavor combinations I have ever put together on a pizza! Creamy goat cheese, lamb sausage, fresh figs...c'mon! If that isn't getting your mouth moistened, I don't know what is.  The great thing about this pizza is that it's not too hard to throw together and if you're having guests over - they will be incredibly impressed with these gourmet toppings! The trick is that you pick up the dough, pre-made from your favorite market or from Trader Joe's, like I did.  That way all you have to do is roll it out, put on your toppings throw it in a piping hot oven and 15 minutes later, BAM! Incredible pizza! Enjoy!

Lamb Sausage and Fig Pizza

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Easy Veggie Egg Muffins

I recently decided to cut out sugar, caffeine, starches and carbs from my diet for two weeks.  It wasn't easy, but these egg muffins definitely made mornings less harsh!  The best thing is that you can make a batch and then they will last you for a few days.  Just heat and serve!  They are a great way to get veggies and protein all at once and also double as an afternoon snack.

Easy Veggie Egg Muffins

 

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Dark Chocolate and Sweet Mint Sandwich Cookies

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Chocolate and mint -- one of my very favorite dessert combos. I know it's not for everyone, but I think it's brilliant!   When I came across the chocolate sandwich cookie recipe in The Violet Bakery Cookbook, I immediately knew that I wanted to do my own spin on it and add a mint buttercream filling instead of the suggested salted caramel (which would also be delicious, don't get me wrong)!  These are essentially homemade oreos and make a great dessert for any St. Patrick's Day party or for anytime you're craving chocolate and mint in cookie form.  This recipe does require some patience as the dough needs to chill for a couple of hours, but don't fret, the result is worth it.
*Recipe adapted from Claire Ptak

Dark Chocolate and Sweet Mint Sandwich Cookies

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Creamy Chickpea Tomato Soup

The weather in LA has been unusually chilly the last few weeks, which had me seriously craving a bowl of hot tomato soup!  Lucky for me on one particularly gray day, I looked through my cupboard and found everything I needed to make my own soup from scratch!  I decided to add the chickpeas because firstly because, I love them, secondly because I thought that blending them would add a nice flavor and texture.  I was correct, this is now my very favorite tomato soup!  I topped my bowl with fresh basil and shredded mozzarella cheese, but you can do whatever you want!

Creamy Chickpea Tomato Soup

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Gluten Free Butternut Squash and Sage Quiche

Sage is one of my very favorite herbs! When I saw the original recipe for this Butternut Squash Quiche by Claire Ptak, in her book, The Violet Bakery Cookbook, I had to make my own version! Since I try to keep my gluten intake to a minimum when I'm dining at home, I decided to make a crustless version of this recipe.  The recipe also calls for flour to be mixed into the egg and cream mixture, which I did not do so it would be totally gluten free! I was really happy with how delicious this quiche turned out!  Adding goat cheese makes it extra creamy and savory!  This is a perfect dish to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Gluten Free Butternut Squash and Sage Quiche

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Pumpkin Spice & Pomegranate Waffles

Everyone might be tired of hearing about pumpkin, but I know some of you still have cans left over from the holidays!  This is a great recipe that will use up the last of that pumpkin.  I love this recipe, which has been adapted from the blog, Just a Taste.  The waffles are packed with spice and aren’t too sweet, making the pomegranate seed topping really pop. Enjoy on a chilly weekend morning this Winter!

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Saveur's Almond Frangipane Tart

It has become a habit with me to create a new and interesting dessert every Thanksgiving.  This year I was inspired by the beautiful images of Saveur’s Almond Frangipane Tart.  I loved how it looked and then when I read how to make it, my mind was made up.  I love anything almond, so I had a very good feeling about this dessert. I also love that it was still incorporating the autumn ingredient of cranberries.

*Recipe Recreated from Stacey Adimando of Saveur Magazine

Saveur's Almond Frangipane Tart

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Healthy Green Monster Turkey Burgers

A few months ago, I tried Gwyneth Paltrow's Middle Eastern Turkey Burger recipe and it blew me away!  Seriously, they were the most amazing turkey burgers I had ever had.  Whenever I buy ground turkey meat I always fantasize about making those burgers.  This go around, I didn't have all of the ingredients Gwyn calls for, so I did my own version.

My burgers still turned out fabulously, as I topped them with tasty green toppings!  After eating the lean turkey meat and layers of green, you will feel well nourished and strong...at least that's how I felt!

I recommend making a few patties at time so you can easily eat them all week!

Healthy Green Monster Turkey Burgers

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