buckeyes, chocolate peanut butter balls
Okay. Sooooo.

Iwasn’tahotcheerleaderinhighschool.

*thud*

That was my forehead hitting the keyboard because this little masquerade of hotness is over.

Old high school yearbook photos revealing pre-cosmetically-enhanced eyes framed in embarrassingly oversized, UglyBetty-ized mauve plastic spectacles, hair ultra-tightly permed into an Asian gheri curl, and the physique of an 11-year-old boy, can very confidently attest to that.

(On a side note, how many people can say that, at the age of thirty -*coughcough,* they still have the body they had in high school? Huh? How many women you know have the body shape of an 11-year-old boy?!?! Wait, uh, never mind.)

No, I wasn’t hot in high school.

I was, however, a cheerleader.

I was. No, really, I was. I can prove it. I still have my old blue and white varsity letters with little gold megaphone pins that I pull out every once in a while to relive my glory days, which I now regret blogging out loud because it reveals a little bit more about me than anyone needed to know. At least I didn’t admit to doing all the cheer routines in front of the mirror with Friday Night Lights playing on my laptop.

Gawkward appearance in high school as mentioned above notwithstanding (because everyone, no matter to what clique they claim to have belonged, was weird-looking in high school), is it that shocking? Is it that much of a surprise that the sweet sparkling smile, perfectly perky personality and everpositively fucking cheerful outlook that manifests itself now as The Delicious Life was a goddamned cheerleader back in high school? Why do you think I am awash with nostalgia every time I watch Bring It On?

Oh, the bubble-headed blondeness of it all!

As unlikely as it may seem, I am, by nature, a cheerleader type. On the inside. It’s less about the happyhappy clap!clap! cheer-y personality, less about an interest in the sport, and more about the activities associated with being a team’s biggest fan. That’s why I was a cheerleader in high school. I loved planning pep rallies and parties for the entire student body. I loved coming up with ideas for signs and banners that were perfectly themed with the opponent. I loved putting Good Luck signs on the players’ lockers. I loved getting up early on Game Days, preparing for “showtime,” cheering for the boys, and of course, watching them win.

It explains why I love things now that, when I think about it, are basically adult equivalents of being a cheerleader in high school. I love throwing dinner parties, coming up with themed ideas for stories and blog posts, making and wrapping up pretty little gifts. I love getting up on weekend mornings in the fall and having the game on in the background while I blog about tailgating. Most of all, I love being someone’s biggest fan.

I also loved parading up and down the halls in a tiny little skirt and crushing on hot quarterbacks, but that has nothing to do with anything right now except that sometimes I wear an apron even when I’m not cooking, and I often refer to myself as Mrs. Manning.
buckeyes_cornerplate

But Peyton, that’s the NBA! This is college football and though technically, I am a Golden Bear first (Cal undergrad) and a Bruin second (UCLA grad), this past fall, I rekindled a keen interest in the Buckeyes. Oh, the inter-conference horror! I didn’t actually attend “The” Ohio State University, but I did spend the latter half of my pre-college life in Cincinnati. Naturally, I associate high school, cheerleading, and football with Ohio – funny how this whole story seems to work out so well – so it’s enough to say that historical association (and personal, but I’ll get into that another day) made me a very enthusiastic Buckeyes fan this fall.

buckeyes_dough

In fact, my inner high school cheerleader (from Ohio) was so enthusiastic that in advance of The Big Game — Ohio State vs. Michigan, not Cal vs Stanford nor UCLA vs USC — I did what any good food blogging football fan worth her weight in pizza and Buffalo wings would do.

buckeyes_nakedballs
I made buckeyes (the peanut butter kind) that look like buckeyes (the inedible horse chestnut kind) in support of the Buckeyes (the Big Ten kind (also inedible, for the most part, but again, I’ll get to that another day when I’m not putting parentheses inside parentheses)).

Ohio beat Michigan, but that’s not the real problem.

Somehow my perfect little balls cheered forward and now Ohio State is playing in the G*d***ed national f**king championship game, so LOOK INTO WHAT MY CHEERY F**CKING CHEERLEADERY SUPPORT HAS GOTTEN ME!

I am going to New Orleans in January.

buckeyes_nakedbaby
As a recently renewed Ohio fan, going to the Superdome is awesome. As a food blogger, eating my way through muffulettas, oyster po’ boys, bananas Foster and beignets is again, awesome. As an aviophobe, getting to the Crescent City IS NOT A BIG EASY because last I heard, even if John Madden’s bus were heading down to the Crescent City, it wouldn’t make a detour through LA to pick up one Delicious, terrified of flying.

Hopefully buckeyes have the same effect as Xanax.

buckeyes_plate

Buckeyes | Chocolate-dipped Peanut Butter Balls {recipe}

Put Bring it On in the DVD player. You will need to watch something while you spend nine thousand hours rolling 2 bazillion 1″ balls by hand.

Beat 1½ c. peanut butter, ½ c. softened butter (that’s 1 stick or 8 Tbsp for the people who don’t do conversions), and 1 tsp vanilla until smooth. Stir in a 1 pound box of confectioner’s sugar. You can dump the sugar as is, but I sifted it because I’m a freak and sifting something makes me feel like I’m actually baking.

The “dough” is supposed to be crumbly. Take about 1 tsp of the crumbs and roll into a 1″ diameter ball. Place balls on sheet or tray lined with waxed paper. Chill peanut butter balls in refrigerator for at least an hour. I got lazy and put off the next step until the next day.

Melt 1 12 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp vegetable shortening in a double boiler. Using a toothpick, dip each peanut butter ball in the melted chocolate, letting a small circle of the peanut butter show through the top. Place dipped peanut butter ball back on waxed paper to cool and set.

{originally published December 2007, in advance of the 2008 BCS National Championship Game at the SuperDome in New Orleans LA, the game in which The Ohio State Buckeyes lost to LSU}

If ever there were a time that you could legitimately pull off looking like the Mistress of the Dark with all-black talons with nail tips long enough for red polish on the underside to show at all, it’s now. Halloween. Autumn. (Though it’s over 80 degrees in LA this week.)

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Glossy black and bright red polishes are easy to find from any brand — I used Zoya and OPI, see below for details — though Christian Louboutin launched his own line of polishes, leading with that iconic red named ‘Rouge Louboutin,’ saying that the red sole on his shoes was originally inspired by nail polish. More recently, Christian Louboutin released ‘Loubi Under Red,” which is specifically aimed at painting a red underside of the nail — the polish is equipped with an ultra fine tipped brush to make the polish application easier and cleaner. At $45 – $50 a bottle, the polishes are just as ridiculously priced as his shoes.

louboutin-nail-polish-underloubi

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louboutin-nails-700

Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Cherbaudes’

Mani with a matching pair of shoes? Obviously. Mani paired with a matching wine? Next level. Wine details here: Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Les Cherbaudes
fourrier-gevrey-chambertin-cherbaudes-wine-7

Zoya ‘Raven’ and Sephora by OPI ‘And a Cherry on Top’

Paint the underside of your nails first: one coat of white polish as a base on the underside of your nails before adding two coats of red so the color stands out (especially with this particular shade of red, which is slightly sheer).

Use a base coat before painting nails with black polish (otherwise they will stain). Paint with two coats black polish, then top coat.
zoya-raven-opi-cherry-nail-polish-7

zoya-raven-opi-cherry-nail-polishes-7

Resources

~ Christian Louboutin ‘Very Prive’ peep-toe platform pumps at Neiman Marcus
~ Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er (“premier”) Cru ‘Les Cherbaudes’ from Rosenthal Wine Merchant
~ Zoya ‘raven’ at zoya.com and Ulta
~ Sephora by OPI ‘And a Cherry on Top’ at Sephora

Manicure Inspired by:

~ dinosquarerobot
~ Adele rocking the Louboutin mani on DropDeadGorgeousDaily
~ Birchbox
~ AllLacqueredUp (back in 2007!)

green goddess grilled cheese (avocado + spinach + kale pesto + mozzarella and goat cheese)

  1. But first, grilled cheese. Specifically, the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese that I made for the first time a few years ago for TasteSpotting, and continues to make the “ooh aah” rounds on social media. It is strange how posts can re-emerge again and again. And again. {tastespotting}
  2. The bacon boom was not an accidental food fad; it was a carefully calculated, long strategic play {businessweek}
  3. Brunch is for Jerks. I have so much emotion about this that I am saving for a full post {new york times}
  4. And fine dining is for 2nd graders: very cute video of kids at New York’s Daniel {new york times video}
  5. New York is a HUNDRED TIMES BETTER than LA for everything, except this one thing. I agree with the one thing, but believe LA is the BEST for everything. {new york magazine}
  6. LA is the best, including its “tech scene” {techcrunch}
  7. Always love a non-resident’s take on favorite places in LA (very eastside-centric) {SF girl by the bay}
  8. The final, numbers-crunched word on whether it’s better to RENT vs BUY (and for the most part, unless you can get a place equally as good as a place to buy, but for impossibly cheaper, it is better to BUY) {new york times}
  9. Fun map of who the wealthiest woman is in each of the Unites States {movoto}
  10. In the Bay Area, these are the youngest billionaires, which includes 30-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, who founded a healthcare technology company {7×7}
  11. Speaking of Bay Area, 37 Things You Should Definitely Eat {flavorverse}
  12. And How to Spend 36 Hours in Berkeley, a “revisit and reminisce” road trip that has been on my list for years. {new york times}

mulberry Street Pizzeria - spinach white pizza

  1. All that time and energy you waste on taking 147 photos to post a perfect #selfie WILL pay off! Literally: an app that connects media in need of images to your photos {scoopshot}
  2. Take out food + wine pairings by a NYC certified sommelier. Obviously, I need to do this little project for The Delicious Life — who’s in?! {thrillist}
  3. How to make the BEST pancakes — that aren’t MY BEST pancakes — using science {wired}
  4. Speaking of pancakes, Aunt Jemima’s family is suing for $2 billion in lost maple syrup damages. {fortune}
  5. If you can bake, and are willing to attempt a recipe with difficulty level: EXTREME (verbatim), Dominique Ansel’s official Cronut Recipe {abc}
  6. There is an underground network of Chinese cooks {new yorker}
  7. Do you know what GMOs are? Better yet, do you know what G M O stands for? Best: Do you know why they are considered “bad?” These people at an LA Farmers’ Market do not. {Jimmy Kimmel via takepart}
  8. October 10 is World Egg Day. October 11 is National Sausage Pizza Day. Next time I will plan blog posts and instagrams better {Food Holiday Calendar at TasteSpotting}

Just eight links for this post, mostly because I have brain fog after having an almost entirely gluten- and dairy-filled meal after a 30-day alcohol, dairy, gluten and sugar detox. I probably should have eased back into it instead of gorging myself on pizza, but I couldn’t resist. I am afraid for my first drink after this detox.

Incidentally, even with all the new (er (ish)) ultra-thin, floppy crust New York-style pizza places popping up in and around Los Angeles, I always seem to go back to Mulberry Street, which I am sure has absolutely no street cred with pizza/food people. But ratings and reviews cannot stand up to the overwhelming power of comfort, nostalgia, and memories of ex-boyfriends. I can’t tell you how many slices of that Spinach White Pizza I anger-ate after storming out of the apartment and “going for a walk” to cool down.

{Mulberry Street Pizzeria, Beverly Hills, Encino, Sherman Oaks, and Thousand Oaks, www.mulberrypizzeria.com}

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While we’re on the subject of bacon and cheese, let us praise the two least salad-y things in the world that, when artfully arranged on a plate along with avocado and egg, can actually make anything into a “salad.”

Thank you, bacon and blue cheese, for Watermelon Cobb Salad. [click to continue…]

bacon cheddar muffins recipe, huckleberry
While we’re on the subject of berries and buttermilk, I’d like to share a recipe for Bacon Cheddar Muffins, which of course has nothing to do with berries or buttermilk, or so you might think, but the recipe does in fact call for buttermilk and it berrily comes out of Huckleberry, the new cookbook from pastry chef Zoe Nathan of Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica, all of which — lunch at the Café, bacon in the form of Maple Bacon Biscuits, brunch AT THE CHEF’S HOUSE (!!!), and the new cookbook — I have gushed about before.

Stay tuned for a giveaway of a signed copy of the cookbook (Monday), but in the mean time, you should make these Bacon Cheddar Muffins —and send me one because I’ve already admitted how terrible I am at baking, though Chef sure does make it look easy in the book. These muffins are perfect for this weekend’s brunch or tailgate or Friday night in by yourself sitting on the couch in your underwear watching real-time instagram updates of stranger-“friends” out partying. No? Just me? See what I mean? Please bake and send me a muffin.

Zoe’s recipe introduction from the cookbook: “Please play with this recipe. Add and subtract to your heart’s content. Don’t eat meat? Add additional cheese and herbs for super-cheesy, herby muffins. No rye flour in the pantry? Substitute another flour, like whole wheat, buckwheat, or, if you must, more all-purpose flour. Black pepper is not my thing but Laurel is obsessed. She always adds a healthy dose to these. Ham instead of bacon? Do it. Goat cheese? Why not? Like I said, play!

Browning the tops of these before they overbake inside is the key to success. So you may want to bake one muffin pan at a time, right at the top of your oven. Feel free to ride your oven dial and go hotter or cooler to control the browning, but just remember that color is flavor, so you want these pretty dark.”

Bacon Cheddar Muffins {recipe}

makes 15 Muffins

INGREDIENTS

6 tbsp / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
¾ cup / 100g all-purpose flour
¾ cup / 120g cornmeal
6 tbsp / 40g rye flour
1½ tbsp baking powder
½ cup + 1 tbsp / 135 ml canola oil
3 tbsp + 2 tsp / 55 ml maple syrup
1 cup + 2 tbsp / 175 ml buttermilk
½ cup / 70 g diced cheddar (cut into 1-in/2.5-cm cubes), plus ¼ cup / 30 g grated cheddar
6 tbsp / 40 g grated parmesan
11 slices cooked bacon, coarsely chopped, plus 1½ tbsp bacon fat, cooled
¼ cup / 10 g fresh chives, parsley, or a combo, finely chopped
Chopped rosemary for garnishing

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack near the top of your oven and preheat to 400°F/ 200°C. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with 15 paper liners, spacing them evenly between the two pans.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt for 1 to 2 minutes until nice and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs slowly, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, rye flour, and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Add the canola oil, maple syrup, and buttermilk. Scrape the mixer bowl well, making sure everything is well incorporated. Add the diced cheddar, 4 tbsp/25 g of the parmesan, the bacon, and chives. Mix just until dispersed, folding by hand to be sure.

Fill the muffin cups to the very top.

In a small bowl toss the grated cheddar with the remaining 2 tbsp parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the muffins. Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned but not overbaked inside. Garnish with chopped rosemary. These are best eaten the day they’re made.

reprinted from Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen with permission; photo by Matt Armendariz

pancakes with fresh blackberries
Pancakes, we have a problem. Or six.

1. THE CONTRADICTION PROBLEM

From the get-go, you know there is a problem with pancakes, at least these pancakes, “Basic Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberries,” because “basic” buttermilk pancakes should be just that, basic, not “with” anything else because once you add “with…” they are no longer BASIC buttermilk pancakes, they are Iggy Azalea Fancy buttermilk pancakes WITH accessories.

Which brings us to a more important and pervasive problem that has nothing to do with over-capitalization on literally EVERYTHING THESE DAYS, and everything to do with where a bird flies prepositionally to an airplane. No? Just me and my 6th grade English teacher?

2. THE PREPOSITION PROBLEM

The conflict is “{Blank} Pancakes” vs “Pancakes with {blank}” because “{blank} pancakes” are pancakes made of {blank}, but pancakes with {blank} are, well, pancakes with {blank}, on, around, surrounded by, next to, whatever, e.g. Blackberry Pancakes are pancakes with blackberries IN the pancakes, possibly puréed blackberries swirled into the batter turning entire pancakes a light, purplish hue, but more likely blackberries left whole and plopped into the uncooked tops of the pancakes once the batter is ladled onto the griddle to cook then turned over resulting in seemingly basic pancakes on the surface, but caramelized blackberry-dappled on the underside, not unlike the upper part of my legs after sitting on cheap patio furniture (it’s not cellulite).

Pancakes WITH blackberries are pancakes, semi colon, there are blackberries somewhere nearby. Blackberries on the pancakes. Blackberries beside the planecakes. Blackbirdies around the planecakes.

THE BIRD FLEW NEXT TO THE PLANECAKES, YA FEEL ME? And now my entire free public school education has finally paid off.

3. THE BUTTERMILK PROBLEM

Basic pancakes, the pancakes made with regular milk and baking powder fluffer, are considered “basic” because (supposedly) there are no special ingredients that you wouldn’t already have in your pantry, spice rack, and refrigerator. You can throw together basic pancakes on any given Sunday and they will be fine. Basic pancakes are thin, flat, and somewhat pale, which is fine, but just kinda, basic.

Buttermilk pancakes, on the other hand, the pancakes made with buttermilk and baking soda, are unbasic because it is a very rare, pretty much never, occasion that I have single-, maybe dual-, use buttermilk on hand to make buttermilk pancakes so I have to plan in advance and go to the market and buy buttermilk in the quart container for the better volume pricing over the pint container, the quart of which I will use only one quarter for pancakes, wonder what else I can make with leftover buttermilk, give up, then eventually throw nuclear-level fermented butttermilk chunks down the drain thus rendering the quart container volume discount more expensive than a pint anyway.

Of course, I very rarely, pretty much never, have straight-up milk at home either (what single, childless woman keep regular milk in her house on the regular?!), so in whatever case that I’m making pancakes basic or not, I have to go to the market first.

4. THE “SOMETHING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE MARKET” PROBLEM

And if I have to go to the trouble of putting on a bra and/or even worse, real pants, and head out into public to the store to buy buttermilk and/or milk and/or wine coolers, what is stopping me from just forgoing all that trouble once I am already in the car and just going straight to BLD for pancakes?

5. THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM

I don’t even really like pancakes. (*gasp!* The horror!)

So no, I would never willingly go out to a restaurant, wait 90 minutes, and pay 14 dollars for pancakes.

6. THE FIRST PANCAKE PROBLEM

I’d rather make pancakes at home right now for zero dollars with the ingredients I already have except for the buttermilk I had to go out to buy, and blog about how in the end “I don’t even really like pancakes” because the first pancake you pour onto the sizzling waterdrop hot griddle will always be bad, so you hide it under a paper towel next to the stovetop and cook the rest of the batter into a picture-perfect stack of thick, fluffy, golden-brown pancakes and while your surprise overnight guest oohs and aahs over the perfect pat of butter melting into glistening rivulets of warm, sticky, maple syrup, you secretly choke down the shame of your firstborn pancake, now shriveled, too cold, too old to have children (wait, what?!), while huddled over the sink by yourself.

Of course you don’t like pancakes if all you’ve ever eaten so far is unevenly browned, possibly undercooked in the center, plain, dry pancakes.

Stop eating the first pancake.

Basic Buttermilk Pancakes {recipe}

This is THE BEST recipe for basic buttermilk pancakes. Blackberries are only required if and when you are trying to check an item off a To-Do List.

servings totally depends on how big you make the pancakes, but probably makes about a dozen pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour (if you have whole wheat flour, you can substitute up to 1 cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons (¼ cup) melted butter
2 large eggs
butter for cooking

for serving: fresh blackberries, mint, butter, warm maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk and sugar until sugar dissolves. Whisk in melted butter and eggs.

Fold dry ingredients into milk mixture until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Melt a pat of butter, then gently “wipe” the butter with a clean dry paper towel.

Spoon about ¼ cup of pancake batter onto hot pan, using back of spoon or ladle to spread batter into circle. Cook until surface of pancake is covered with bubbles and edges appear dry, about 1 minute. Flip pancake with a thin spatula, and cook until lightly golden brown on the bottom, about 30 seconds. (The pancake does most of its cooking on the first side.)

This is your first pancake. It will not be good. Toss it, or just eat it yourself in private.

Wipe the skillet or griddle down with a damp paper towel (to pick up any pancakes bits). Cook the rest of the pancakes in the same way as above starting with melted butter “wiped” around the hot pan with a clean paper towel, and always wiping down the griddle between batches.

You can keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200ºF oven while you’re cooking.

Stack warm pancakes on serving plate. Top with pat(s) of butter, fresh blackberries, drizzle with maple syrup, and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

RESOURCES:

~ blackberries from Pudwill Berry Farms of Santa Barbara, at the Wednesday Santa Monica or Sunday Hollywood Farmers’ Markets
~ fresh mint from my garden!

CLEARLY, I HAVE A PANCAKES PROBLEM:

~ Pancakes Breakfast Nachos. Period.
~ Basic Pancakes recipe (with regular milk and baking powder)
~ Banana Whole Wheat Pancakes recipe
~ Strawberry-ish pancakes and Multi-grain Pancakes at Coral Tree Cafe, Brentwood
~ Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes and thoughts on having trouble letting go
~ Pumpkin Pancakes recipe
~ Peanut Butter Pancakes recipe
~ Chocolate Pancakes Sundae with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, and Cherries

{pancakes made for breakfast with munchkins, original instagram 080313}