Best Of 2011: The Recipes

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas weekend!  Today Lukus and I are partaking in our day-after-Christmas shopping tradition.

But that doesn’t mean I am abandoning you.  Instead, this week is dedicated to some of my favorite posts from over the past year.

I am starting this little compilation with some of my favorite recipes over the past year.

Check them out and let me know— which is your favorite?

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


Shrimp and Garlic Pizza


Grown-Up Sweet Tea


Spinach & Lentil Curry Soup


Blackberry and Nectarine Pie



Playa’s Perfect Cocktails

Last night Lukus and I decided to stop by the new John Rivera Sedlar restaurant, Playa, for a drink. While the food (described as “urban Latin cuisine”) is supposed to be great- we were there for the libations.  The bar is impressive, full of small batch spirits and house made infusions.  Before we got there I was not planning on drinking (I was saving my calories for dessert!), but the cocktail list designed by master mixologist Julian Cox, quickly changed my mind.  We were lucky to have our friend Mr. Reggie Watkins make our cocktails and share some secrets. And YOU are lucky, because I am spilling them here!  Go ahead, invite over some friends and show off your mixology skills!  And if you are in LA stop by Playa and let the professionals make them for you!!!

Reggie, working hard behind the bar at Playa.

The Proposition

  • 1 ¼ oz Tequila
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz Bitter Honey (try your local specialty food store or order online)
  • 3/4oz Barolo Chinato (this is an Italian after dinner digestif)

These ingredients are combined and shaken, then strained into a glass.

"The Proposition"

A Oaxacan The Clouds

  • 2 oz Mezcal (known for its smoky falvor)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz agave nectar


  • -roasted tomatoes
  • -crispy sage
  • -salt
  • -Piment D’Espelette (a ground red pepper)

The beverage ingredients are combined, shaken and then strained over ice.  Then the tomato are skewered, sprinkled with the sage, salt & Piment D’Espelette and served over top.

"A Oaxacan The Cloud"

Elegant Orange

Halloween week is moving right along.  Yesterday we looked at the color black, but today North On Harper is brought to you by the color orange.  Okay, maybe not by the color, but by the fruit.  Confused?  Well, Halloween is usually a palate pleaser for kids, but what about those of us who crave a bit more sophistication?!  These orange recipes are for the food (and drink!) snob in all of us.

  • Spiced Orange Wine:  This is such a beautiful drink.  It feels both festive and effortless (especially since it can be made ahead).
  • Chocolate-Orange Pots de Crème:  Even adults want something sweet from time to time!  This dish is rich and creamy and decadent goodness!
  • Grilled Pork Chops with Orange Barbecue Sauce:  This is not your average barbecue!  Instead this lovely entrée has a tangy and spicy sauce that is sure to please.
  • Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake:  This cake truly is the essence of chic.  A cake with oranges, olive oil and garnished with sea salt?  Yes, please!
  • Bloody (Orange) Marys:  The name says it all.  Okay, confession, this one scares me to death.  I am all about culinary adventures, but this?  I decided however, that the fear factor element makes it perfect for this list.

I’ll Drink To That!

When Lukus and I first met we were working together at a restaurant/club here in Los Angeles.  He was a bartender and I was a server.  Cute, I know.  Fast forward to present day and Lukus is the General Manager of a club.

Often, because of his background, friends and family ask him for advice on how to stock/setup their home bars.  Lukus is quick to assist.  So I thought I would share that info with you.  I am all about exploiting the ones I love. 😉  Besides, a consummate host doesn’t just feed their guests- they wet their whistle as well.

Here are the essentials for a fully functioning home bar:

  • The liquor: vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey.  These are the base alcohols for most mixed drinks.
  • Wine:  Stock a white and red option.
  • Triple Sec: A common citrus flavored liquor used for flavoring cocktails.
  • Cocktail Set: Consisting of a jigger, shaker, strainer and bar spoon.  These items help with the measuring, mixing, pouring and garnishing of cocktails.
  • Ice: Because who wants a tepid drink?
  • Garnish: Lemons, limes, cherries and olives should cover most drinks.
  • Glassware: Old fashioned (also known as a bucket), wine and cocktail (also known as martini) glasses are the bases of bar server ware.

Lukus mixing drinks on our honeymoon.

Coming Clean in Cabo

I have a confession to make!!!!!  Lukus and I have been in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at Capella Pedregal celebrating our 1st anniversary.  This was a complete surprise for Lukus, who did not know we were going here until arriving at the airport early Sunday morning.  This is actually where we got married, so I am a really amazing wife.

Unfortunately I have been a bit under the weather (no NOT because I drank the water, I can say with 100% certainty!  Besides all water is SAFE on property).  Fortunately the hotel and its surroundings are gorgeous, so if you are going to spend the day curled up in the fetal position at least it’s on a chaise in the pool, by the ocean.

I think this is the point where I insert jealousy-inducing photos:

Lukus and Alexis at Dinner at Don Manuel’s.

Exterior view of our beach casita.

A view from one of the many pool decks looking out to the ocean. 

For those of you who want your own little taste of Mexico, here is the hotel’s margarita recipe to whet you appetite:

Capella Margarita

  • 1½ Oz Tequila Don Julio Reposado
  • ¼ Oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 Oz Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 Oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 Oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • ½ Oz Simple Syrup

Rim a rocks glass with lime juice, dip it into salt and fill with ice cubes.  Fill the cocktail shaker with ice cubes and add all the ingredients.  Shake strong and pour into the rocks glass.  Garnish with a lime wedge.