Cupcakes for a Cause!

I love foodie events! Especially events when there is chocolate or pastry involved! Cupcakes for a Cause is the Inland Empires FIRST Cupcake Fair. There will be cupcake tastings, baking competitions: both professional and amateur categories! There will be live entertainment, complimentary massages, a photo booth and even a Kids Zone!
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IEShineOn is hosting this event and I am excited to help spread the word!

Cupcakes for a Cause will be held Sunday March 17th from 12 – 4 p.m. at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, in Riverside California. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Foothill Family Shelter and the California Riverside Ballet.

ALL the event info can be found HERE!!

Are you a baker? Do you want to share your cupcake talents? Consider entering the baking competition! You can find all that information by clicking HERE

Don’t want to bake, but just want to attend? I am giving away TWO free general admission vouchers! You get entry to the event and six tasting tickets!

To enter leave a comment telling me your favorite cupcake flavor and who you’d bring to the event if you win!

Want extra chances?

“Like” My Imperfect Kitchen Facebook page and leave another comment telling me that you are following. If you are already following, leave a comment and say “I’m already following you!”

“Like” IEShineOn on Facebook and leave a comment here telling me you liked their page.

Follow My Imperfect Kitchen on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are following!

Follow IEShineOn on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are following them!

That’s FIVE chances to win!

The winner will be chosen at 12:00 PM PST Friday March 15th so spread the word!! GOOD LUCK! I’ll see you there!

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Asparagus Wraps with Limoncello!

I can’t believe I haven’t shared these delicious asparagus wraps! About a year ago, I ran across this recipe and have made them several times. It’s the one thing my daughter requested for Thanksgiving this year.

Asparagus wraps

A simple and elegant appetizer, these wraps are made with cream cheese, Limoncello and store-bought wonton wrappers. Not only are they delicious, they are easy to make and the fresh flavor is just incredible! Every time I make them, they disappeared very quickly!

Asparagus Wraps

Spring is coming, which means asparagus will soon be in season. I can’t wait to make these for Easter Brunch. Maybe if I’m lucky, someone will make them for Mothers Day too. 😉

Limoncello Asparagus Spears
From Zestuous

4 ozs. (half block) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 T. limoncello
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch asparagus
1 package wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat pad.

In a small bowl whisk the softened cream cheese and limoncello together until smooth.

In another bowl, mix the lemon zest and kosher salt together.

Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus.

Working with one wrapper at a time, spread a little limoncello cream on the center of the wrapper, avoiding the edges.

Lay an asparagus spear (or two or three, depending on how thick the spears are) on the top edge of the wrapper.

Roll the asparagus up in the wrapper and place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet.

For decoration, slice three diagonal slits in the wrapper. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the lemon salt.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until the wrappers are a light golden brown.

Serve warm!
Limoncello Asparagus Spears

Cake In A Cup!

I have a secret. My food bloggers card may be revoked when I tell you. Then again, I might be your new hero!

I love cake! Oh wait. That’s not a secret.

I love things that are quick and easy! No… not a secret either.

I have boxed cake mix in my pantry. *GASP*

Now I know what you’re thinking. Food bloggers are supposed to make everything from scratch! They sit around fancy tables with gorgeous napkins and fine china, eating perfectly plated, gourmet food! (Remind me to take a wide shot of what my kitchen actually looks like when I’m taking food pictures! HA!) I’m here to tell you, that’s just not true. Of course, if you’ve been following along for a while, you already know my kitchen isn’t perfect so…

Not only do I have boxed cake mix in my pantry, I have two! Specifically, these two.

Cake Mix

My friend Laura is falling out of her chair right now, because I’ve made an Angel Food Cake for her birthday the past several years and she probably thinks it’s from one of these boxes. Hey! Now that I think about it, maybe my food bloggers card won’t be revoked after all! Laura, I promise, your cakes have never been from a box!

So why are they in my pantry? Is the secret really boxed cake mix? No. The secret is the magic that happens when you mix the two together! I keep this hidden for those moments when I want something sweet – just for me – and I want it RIGHT NOW. In less than two minutes, I can have a delicious, personal size, chocolate cake in a cup that satisfies the cravings and doesn’t leave me with a lot of extra cake in the house.

Here’s how it works: In a large ziplock bag, combine the two cake mixes together. Shake the bag until they are fully incorporated. In a microwaveable coffee mug, combine three tablespoons of the mix with two tablespoons of water. Nothing else, just water. Stir to combine. Put the mug in the microwave on high for one minute. THAT’S IT!

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When it’s done, let it sit for a few minutes to cool. After that, you have your own individual “cup cake” to satisfy your sweet tooth. It looks a bit like a sponge but that’s ok!
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If you want more chocolate, as soon as the cup comes out of the microwave, toss mini chocolate chips on top. They’ll melt a bit from the heat of the cake and it tastes almost like frosting!

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So there it is. Cake in a cup using boxed cake mix. If you don’t like chocolate, you can use your favorite flavor box mix, but don’t substitute the Angel Food cake mix. You will have a lot of mix, so store it in the bag in the back of your pantry. It will be there for you when your own cake cravings hit.

Cake in a cup

Have fun with this! Just remember, it’s our secret!!

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

I make no secret of my love for Joy The Baker. She has gifted us with many recipes over the last year that quickly became family favorites: Avocado Fries, Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins…

Now, however, she may very well have risen to hero status in our house. Last May she posted these French Onion Soup Sandwiches. It took me nine months to discover them and we will never be apart again.

This recipe makes two sandwiches. That’s perfect as our little nest is growing emptier and I find myself making dinners for two more often than dinners for three, four or five.

Obviously you start with onions… two big beautiful onions for two big beautiful sandwiches!
onions in the pan

As you cook them, the onions break down and caramelize, getting sweet and delicious. Then you add fresh Thyme, a bit of salt, amazing Gruyère cheese and great bread…

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Together they come very close to sandwichy perfection.

These are great on a cold night, snuggled under a blanket watching the Hallmark Channel! Or you know, whatever you want to watch. 😉

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

French Onion Soup Sandwiches

Recipe from Joy The Baker via Portuguese Girl Cooking

2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced into 1/4-inch semi-circles

3 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened, plus more for buttering the bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 scant teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

pinch of granulated sugar

3 tablespoons beef broth to deglaze the pan

3/4 cup finely shredded Gruyère cheese, split

4 slices bread

In a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and stir until butter is melted. Add the onions and toss to coat them in the fat. Let the onions cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, thyme, and pepper and stir. Place a lid on the pan and let the onions cook. Stir the onions every so often and lower the heat if they are browning too quickly. Take your time cooking the onions. It’s low and slow for this one. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end. After about 10-15 minutes, you’ll see the onions begin to darken and break down. Keep cooking and stirring occasionally for another 10-15 minutes.

When onions are entirely browned and completely soft, add the beef broth to deglaze the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan as the liquid evaporates. This adds extra flavor and it doesn’t take very long for the liquid to evaporate so scrape quickly! Remove pan from heat and set aside while you assemble the sandwiches.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered side of one slice, add half the Gruyère cheese, then half the warm onion mixture and top with another slice of bread. Repeat this to assemble the other sandwich.

Cook the sandwiches over medium heat in a sauté pan. Flip the sandwiches and continue to cook until the outside is crispy and golden and the cheese is gooey and melted on the inside.

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Do you see why she is a hero? These are so good! One bite and my husband said “Yep, these are keepers!” Thanks Joy for another amazing recipe! You’re a keeper too. 🙂

Contemplating change…

This isn’t a food post. No pictures of delicious cookies, savory dinners or family friendly side-dishes. Nope. It’s just me, sitting at my computer, having a cup of coffee and contemplating the future…

Here we are a full month and a week into 2013. So far, it’s been a delicious year. I’ve gone on two great food-filled walking tours. I’ve taken a class or two. I was “recognized” for the first time at a demo recently. That was awesome!! I’ve met a lot of new friends on Facebook and Pintrest. I’m learning about Google +, YouTube and Instagram! There are exciting things on the horizon! I can’t wait to see how they unfold! Mostly, I’ve been happily cooking, baking and blogging away in my little kitchen.

In the next few months though, my cooking and baking times may not be as plentiful. We have a mortgage that needs to be paid, and sadly, it requires more than cupcakes or perfectly steamed clams as currency. Too bad, right? 🙂 So, I’m going back to work. Starting Monday, I’ll be “Miss Sara” for a group of adorable 4 year olds at a local Pre-School.

I’m excited and sad at the same time. I’m excited because I enjoy working with kids! I get to wear jeans every day, my commute is less than 10 minutes and I’ll be working with people I love. Plus, I’ll have a whole new group of taste testers for all my recipes! 🙂

I’m sad because I loved, loved, LOVED being home the last few months. I wanted to see what would happen if I were able to go back to school and put 40+ hours a week into blogging! Who knows! Maybe someday that will happen. This girl has BIG DREAMS and I’m not waiting around for them any more. We’re going to go out and MAKE THEM HAPPEN! Well, after school is over for the day we’ll make them happen. Heehee!

Please don’t give up on me if some posts are left percolating on the back burner and my fingers are occasionally coated in washable paint instead of bread dough! Without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to do ANY of this and like I said before, I’m not giving up! Stick with me and I’ll find a happy balance between paying the bills and sharing great food with you! We’ll reach the stars together, wait and see!

The California Spiny Lobster

How many of you eat locally grown fruits and vegetables? If I could look into cyber land, I’d probably see many of you raising your hands. That’s good! We do too! In the last year and a half, I’ve made a serious effort to pay more attention to the food I bring into our house and where it comes from. It’s important to support local farmers and learn as much as you can about what you eat every day.

If I were to ask you if you eat local meat or seafood, I wonder if I’d see as many hands in the air? My hand would have gone down, I’ll admit it. Even living here in Southern California, local meat and seafood isn’t something I know a lot about, but it’s just as important.

Thanks to a free demo at Surfas last weekend and a collaboration by Edible Westside, A Sustainable Kitchen, Seafood for the Future, and Chef Ray Garcia of FIG, I learned something new about local seafood! Did you know California has its own lobster? No? We have everything else, why not lobster too? 😉

Meet the California Spiny Lobster!
California Spiny Lobster

These lobster live between Monterey Bay California, down Baja California and all the way to Gulf of Tehuantepec, in Mexico. The main difference between the California Spiny Lobster and the American or Maine Lobster, is the California lobsters don’t have claws. Those big pincers are only gangly accessories Spiny lobsters don’t need! They’re Californian. They’re cool that way.

Another fun fact, the Spiny Lobsters tend to yield more edible meat, pound for pound. While the texture is a little different, it is just as delicious as its East Coast counterpart!
Spiny Lobster

Most of the California Spiny Lobsters are shipped overseas to Asian markets due to such a low local demand. Well, jinkies! I didn’t even know there was a California Lobster until a few days ago! How can you buy or ask for something you don’t know exists? That is one of the great thing about demos. People passionate about sharing local and sustainable products get an opportunity to share their knowledge and you learn new things. It’s a win-win!

On the menu for the demo was Chef Ray Garcia’s Grilled Spiny Lobster Salad.
Grilled Lobster Salad

Of course, the California Spiny Lobster took center stage in the salad, but the rest was equally delicious! Made with fresh, local greens, shiitake Mushrooms were sliced, grilled, then baked in duck fat and aged soy, along with celery sticks that were tossed with EVOO, lemon, salt and pepper. Beneath the salad was a drizzle of chestnut purée, that added a creamy contrast to the delicate lobster meat and the richness of the mushrooms. A beautiful slice of Pink Lady Apple garnished the top of the greens for a sweet snap of texture. It was amazing!

Spiny Lobster Salad

While Chef Garcia prepared his salad, he talked about the California Spiny Lobster. He featured them in his restaurant during the height of Spiny Lobster season this year. I have a lot of respect for Chef Garcia and the groups supporting this demo. They are really making a difference in how people eat and teaching others about the importance of eating locally! Look how many people where there!
Demo

I got to meet Chef Garcia and his Spiny friend before the demo.
Chef Ray Garcia

Our salads were even served on compostable bamboo plates. It’s true, little changes can add up to a big difference. Not just with our food, but how we treat the world.
Spiny Lobster Salad

Helping each other is essential too. Everyone pitched in to plate salads for the crowd!
Team plating

THANK YOU to the wonderful folks who sponsored this demo! Linzy from Edible Westside Magazine, Annette from A Sustainable Kitchen, Chef Ray Garcia from FIG, Kim from Seafood for the Future (my sincere apologies to the last woman on the right, I didn’t catch her name) and to John and his team at Surfas Culinary District for hosting this great event! You’ve inspired me to learn more about the local and sustainable seafood options in our area!
The Whole Gang!

That was my fun foodie day last week! Get out and explore your local foodie world. It’s amazing the things you can learn!

Till next time, friends!

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