friyay happy hour: coffee martini

lately, i feel like a broken record. friday comes and i tell you all what a crazy week it has been and that we all deserve a drink.

well guess what? this week is no different. in fact, it was the craziest week i've had since my life got turned upside down two years ago when i was laid off from my stable, well paying job and decided to become a yoga instructor and cook instead. 

let's say the week starts sunday. it was a great start to the week. i taught two great classes (some of my highest numbers in my very new time slots) to some amazing friends and clients and i just felt the most comfortable and happy teaching i have ever felt. it felt glorious. and i spent the rest of my sunday cleaning my house from the catered dinner the night before and getting myself ready for styled shoots on tuesday and wednesday.
then baking, teaching, cooking and shooting on monday, tuesday and wednesday morning. 

wednesday, as i was winding down my photo shoot and clearing up my stuff to head home, my phone started BLOWING up. suddenly i had a dozen text messages and missed calls. i checked my email to discover that the spin and yoga studio that i teach most of my classes at was closing. in one week. ONE WEEK. 

sure, i'm bummed that i will no longer have a steady paycheck, but my emotions run so much deeper than that over the sudden loss. i started taking yoga classes for the first time ten years ago at the location in venice. and while that is not where i really developed my love for yoga, it got me my start. and when it came time for me to find a teaching job, it felt like the most natural home. when i moved to costa mesa with wes, i didn't have many friends or a network to rely on. but the second i needed a job, they embraced me and it was my first job back to work after i got married. it was my first teaching job when i got certified. soooooo many of the clients have turned into food and swim lesson clients, but even more than that so many have turned into friends. and some of my fellow teachers turned into family. 

BUT. 

after my immediate rush of emotion and shock as i stood photographing cake stands to use for future wedding dessert bars, it hit me. this is not the end of something. it is just the beginning of something. yas closing is making space for me, my fellow teachers and my clients to find a new home. one where we can create the vibe and community we crave. 

so i'm opening up my eyes and my ears to possibilities as they come. and in the mean time, i'm going to TAKE a lot of yoga and spin classes and enjoy other teachers for a while. but first, i'm going to enjoy a drink. cheers to yas. a ten year journey that brought me to the person i was always meant to be. 

coffee martini 
serves: 1 cocktail 
prep time: 1-7 minutes (dependent on how long it takes you to brew coffee) 
active time: 1 minute 
total time: 8 minutes 
ingredients: 4oz hot, freshly brewed coffee (whatever brew method you prefer). 2 oz vodka. 1 oz baileys irish cream. whole star anise or cinnamon stick for serving. micro plane. shaker. martini glass. whipped cream optional. 
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in the shaker, combine the vodka, baileys and hot coffee. shake well to combine and to get the mixture a bit bubbly, about 30 seconds. be careful when you are shaking as the hot coffee will create steam pressure. you should use a dish towel to hold over the top of the shaker. 
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pour the liquid into the martini glass. 
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use a micro plane to grate a little bit of your whole anise or cinnamon and garnish with two whole stars or sticks. option to top it with whipped cream and serve. 
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xo, a

coffee martini
serves: 1 cocktail
prep time: 1-7 minutes (dependent on how long it takes you to brew coffee)
active time: 1 minute
total time: 8 minutes
ingredients: 4oz hot, freshly brewed coffee (whatever brew method you prefer). 2 oz vodka. 1 oz baileys irish cream. whole star anise or cinnamon stick for serving. micro plane. shaker. martini glass. whipped cream optional.
n the shaker, combine the vodka, baileys and hot coffee. shake well to combine and to get the mixture a bit bubbly, about 30 seconds. be careful when you are shaking as the hot coffee will create steam pressure. you should use a dish towel to hold over the top of the shaker. pour the liquid into the martini glass. use a micro plane to grate a little bit of your whole anise or cinnamon and garnish with two whole stars or sticks. option to top it with whipped cream and serve. 

tips & tricks: candied pecans

lately, i haven't had an awful lot of extra time. the great news is, both my yoga and food businesses are growing. the bad news is, there is only one me. and only so many hours in a day. i mean, that one bonus hour i got a couple weekends ago was pretty great, but other than that, it's been a grind. 

now, i'm not complaining. i promise there is a point. the point is, i'm swamped. catering season is here and cake orders have increased AND i had two styled shoots back to back this week. one of which involved a coffee bar. 
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the whole idea was centered around making beautiful biscotti. but, i had never actually made biscotti before. so i went to one of the few references i really trust. joy the baker. 

i do not read many other food blogs (or blogs in general). not for lack of interest, just for lack of time. but instagram makes it easy to keep up with the happenings of close friends, family and other creatives i admire  (especially now that there are stories). and joy is my favorite to watch and i've been dying to make a recipe of hers. i had a hunch she would have some good biscotti options and no surprise, she had a few. i made her candied pecan biscotti  which leads me to today's tip and trick.

much like these spiced pistachios, candied pecans are a fantastic snack on their own, but are also great in baked goods, salads, chopped up in pasta dishes or even scattered about on a beautiful holiday meat and cheese plate. they are VERY easy to make and store fabulously in an airtight container.  well, what are you waiting for? hop to it. 

candied pecans (adapted from joy the baker) 
serves: 2 cups 
prep time: 5 minutes 
bake time: 35 minutes 
total time: 40 minutes 
ingredients: 2 cups raw pecan halves. 1 large egg white. .5 cup granulated sugar. 1 tsp ground cinnamon. 1 tsp ground nutmeg. 1 tsp dried sage leaves .5 tsp kosher salt. .25 tsp fresh ground pepper. baking sheet lined with parchment or disposable aluminum pan (i use these fore easy clean up when i already have a lot going on... like thanksgiving day). 
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start by preheating your oven to 300 degrees f. while the oven preheats, whisk your egg white until it forms some bubbles. 

add all your dry ingredients in a bowl and add in the bubbly egg white and whisk till the mixture is completely combined. 
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lay your pecans in a flat layer on your baking sheet or pan. 
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drizzle the sugar mixture over the pecans and use a spoon or spatula to make sure all the nuts are coated. 
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bake for 30-35 minutes until the nuts smell delicious and are golden brown. 
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remove from the oven and allow them to cool to room temp. enjoy warm, or cool and store for future use. 
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xo, a

roasted butternut squash soup

finally, socal has had a string of less than scorching weather. in fact, i even wore a sweater to our friendsgiving celebration on sunday. i mean, it was very thin in weight, had cut out shoulders and a lace back, but i wore a sweater dammit. and boots. boom. 

you know how us warm weather folk roll. the second it drops below seventy, we grab the boots and sweaters and make soup. and i'm just as basic as the rest, so of course we are talking about soup today. 

while potato leek soup will always have a special place in my heart, this roasted butternut squash soup is what i make for people i want to impress. yeah, soup doesn't really seem very impressive, but this soup is so bright in color and bold in flavor that people always go back for more. crispy croutons and tangy, creamy goat cheese make the deep flavors of roasted butternut squash sing. make it for a group, or store it in smaller jars in the fridge or freezer for single servings when you need something quick and delicious. 

roasted butternut squash soup 
serves: 8 servings 
prep time: 15 minutes 
roast time: 45 minutes 
active time: 30 minutes 
total time: 1.5 hours 
ingredients: 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3lbs or 6ish cups). if you hate cutting the butternut squash yourself, you can usually find precut in your produce section and that will save you most of the prep time. 4 tbs olive oil, divided. 2 tbs brown sugar. 1tbs salt. 1 tsp pepper. 1.5 cup diced shallots (about 4 shallots). 3 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped. .5 cup marsala wine. 10 medium sized sage leaves cut chiffonade style (long thin ribbons) + 2 extra for garnish. 6 cups chicken stock. seasoned croutons and goat cheese for serving. baking sheet. large heavy pot. immersion blender, blender or food processor. 
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start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees f. for easy cleaning, line your baking sheet with parchment or aluminum. spread out your squash in an even layer and drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil. season with half the salt and pepper and all the brown sugar and toss well till all the squash is lightly coated. 
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roast for 45 minutes, or until the edges of the squash are starting to brown. 
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when your squash is about 10 minutes from finishing up, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium high heat. when the oil is hot (if you drop in a shallot it should sizzle) and then add in shallots and garlic and half of the remaining salt and pepper. cook until the shallots are translucent and starting to lightly brown. let a bit of brown bits accumulate on the bottom of your pan. about 5-7 minutes. 
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pour in the marsala and use the liquid to scrape up any browned bits. 
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cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, add in the now finished butternut squash and the sage. stir till everything is well combined.
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pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. about 10 minutes. allow the soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes. remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. 
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use your immersion blender (get one, you will NOT regret it) or use your food processor or blender (you will likely have to do these in batches depending on the size of your tool) to completely blend the soup till smooth. 
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serve soup hot topped with seasoned croutons, a dollop of goat cheese and some fresh sage. 
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xo, a

roasted butternut squash soup
serves: 8 servings
prep time: 15 minutes
roast time: 45 minutes
active time: 30 minutes
total time: 1.5 hours
ingredients: 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3lbs or 6ish cups). if you hate cutting the butternut squash yourself, you can usually find precut in your produce section and that will save you most of the prep time. 4 tbs olive oil, divided. 2 tbs brown sugar. 1tbs salt. 1 tsp pepper. 1.5 cup diced shallots (about 4 shallots). 3 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped. .5 cup marsala wine. 10 medium sized sage leaves cut chiffonade style (long thin ribbons) + 2 extra for garnish. 6 cups chicken stock. seasoned croutons and goat cheese for serving. baking sheet. large heavy pot. immersion blender, blender or food processor.
start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees f. for easy cleaning, line your baking sheet with parchment or aluminum. spread out your squash in an even layer and drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil. season with half the salt and pepper and all the brown sugar and toss well till all the squash is lightly coated. roast for 45 minutes, or until the edges of the squash are starting to brown. when your squash is about 10 minutes from finishing up, heat the rest of the olive oil over medium high heat. when the oil is hot (if you drop in a shallot it should sizzle) and then add in shallots and garlic and half of the remaining salt and pepper. cook until the shallots are translucent and starting to lightly brown. let a bit of brown bits accumulate on the bottom of your pan. about 5-7 minutes. pour in the marsala and use the liquid to scrape up any browned bits. cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated, add in the now finished butternut squash and the sage. stir till everything is well combined. pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. about 10 minutes. allow the soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes. remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. use your immersion blender (get one, you will NOT regret it) or use your food processor or blender (you will likely have to do these in batches depending on the size of your tool) to completely blend the soup till smooth. serve soup hot topped with seasoned croutons, a dollop of goat cheese and some fresh sage.