Friday, June 29, 2012

Enter the Fresno Fair Great Cake Contest! + Fudge-Glazed Creamy Peanut Butter Cake

Ooo I wish I were going to be here for this! Check it out!


This Fresno Fair Great Cake Contest offers hobby bakers a chance to compete with other area kitchen warriors for bragging rights and cash prizes. Check out the details below!

Cake Makers Compete at the Big Fresno Fair: King Arthur Flour invites you to compete in their “Great Cake Contest.” Prizes valued at $450 are awarded to the top three winners, plus the first place winner has a shot at the grand prize valued at $500. Bake your cake using any type of King Arthur Flour, but no cake mixes please. Any theme, shape, size or flavor is welcome. Use any frosting, topping or delightful decoration you desire. Winners of the top three cakes receive gift cards for King Arthur Flour’s popular baking website and online catalog. First place gets $200 and runner-ups win $150 and $100 each. Cakes are judged on Taste, Presentation and Texture. All ages may enter; limit one entry per person.

Big Fresno Fair runs October 3 - 14, 2012
Pre-registration for the Cake Contest is required by September 8, 2012
Cake Contest Judging is on Saturday, October 13 at 1 pm

The contest is judged at the Fresno fairgrounds. Check out the contest section of for details or call the fair’s entry office at 559-650-3213 with questions.     

Fudge-Glazed Creamy Peanut Butter Cake
(Sample recipe from King Arthur Flour
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon (1/4 ounce) Instant ClearJel® or cornstarch
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, black cocoa, or Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) water

3/4 cup (7 ounces) peanut butter, creamy or chunky
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) milk or cream

1 cup (6 ounces) chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour (or grease, then line with parchment, then grease again) an 8-inch round cake pan. Note: This pan needs to be at least 2-inch tall; if you have a non-standard, shorter 8-inch pan, substitute a 9-inch round pan.

To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 35 to 38 minutes (about 25 minutes if you're using a 9-inch pan), or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, and then turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.

To make the filling: Beat together the peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla till crumbly, then add the milk or cream, beating till smooth. Add additional milk or cream, if necessary, to make a spreadable filling.

To make the icing: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is hot, and the chocolate soft. Stir to melt the chocolate completely, reheating very briefly if necessary. Allow the icing to rest for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until it's thickened enough to be spreadable.

To assemble the cake: Slice the cake in half horizontally, to make two layers. Place one piece, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling. Top with the second piece, cut side down. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the icing. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired. Yield: one 8-inch cake, 8 to 10 servings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Easy Homemade Watermelon Granita

I can't have my beloved Hawaiian shaved ice every day, so I have to make do without it by making homemade granitas.

Scraping inside the house

So easy and refreshing! Perfect for a hot summer day...or any day. You can also make coffee granita and fresh strawberry granita too.

(1) Blend watermelon in a Blendtec (any kind of blender should do)
(2) Strain out the goopy parts
(3) Eat the goop (or not?)
(4) Freeze the leftover juice
(5) Scrape frozen stuff with a fork
* I did add a little sugar, but I really didn't need to do that because the watermelon was sweet enough.

You can also add tonic water to a cup of the granita (or chunks of the granita, which is what I did) and suddenly it becomes fresh watermelon slushy soda. No caffeine.

Akropolis Restaurant & Coffee - Newport Beach, CA

Akropolis Restaurant & Coffee
2201 W Balboa Blvd
Newport Beach 92663 CA
(949) 270-6310
Website here.

Grace was craving a good gyro...and we were lucky enough to find Akropolis, which didn't really fit in with the laid-back beachy surroundings, but who cares? The gyro we split was DELICIOUS! We could have eaten one each, but we were saving our money and our appetites for more food adventures.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good Ol' Burgers - Paso Robles, CA

Good Ol' Burgers
1145 24th St.
Paso Robles, CA 93447

Website here.

Stopped by for lunch on the way to the coast (on the way back home we went to Superior Dairy). Seriously delicious burgers here. Tried their Yard Burger/Chicken sandwich, "Wagon Wheels" (onion rings), fries, and Coyote Burger.
Burger = tasty, peppery, flavorful.
Chicken sandwich = Thick, delicious BBQ sauce, real chicken (not the squishy stuff at some places) perfectly sized.
Onion rings = Huge and good. A little too big for me, but my dad got half fries/half onion rings, which I think was a good idea 'cause we got to try both and there weren't too many of either.
Fries = Good seasoning. Not outstanding because I'm really picky about fries, but good! I prefer thick ones...and my favorites are actually wedges and not the thin- or regular-cut fries.

Dad's Coyote Burger. Peppery and SO good!
Humongo onion rings--and these weren't the biggest ones!

My BBQ chicken sandwich. SO good! Thick. Tender. Delicious BBQ sauce. Perfect size.

Big sign hanging from the ceiling

Monday, June 25, 2012

Superior Dairy - Hanford, CA

Superior Dairy Products Company
325 N. Douty Street
Hanford, CA 93230
(559) 582-0481

This is part of California history right here (open since 1929). Even Huell Howser visited it on TV! I knew about it because I went on a school field trip to Hanford in third grade with my mom on a train, but I went back with friends in middle school, and then more recently I had their ice cream at the Farmer's Market in River Park in Fresno, CA. Today (6/25) my aunt, uncle, cousin and I stopped by on the way home from a family reunion on the Central Coast (on the way down my fam and I stopped at Good Ol' Burger). Superior Dairy's ice cream is delicious, and the scoops are GENEROUS (I think that's an understatement). Note: The bowls below = 1 scoop each! I do have to say that I have never had their regular food. Also, whenever you go there there are usually people of every age in there enjoying humongous scoops, sundaes, and milkshakes.

Chocolate, Fresh Peach, and Chocolate Chip!

A different/unique kind of chocolate. Very cocoa-y, according to my uncle & aunt. I agree!

With chunks of peach! My uncle loves this flavor.

Yummy and interesting in that it has tiny bits of chocolate.

A huuuuuuge sundae!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All Things Grill: BBQ on a Frugal Budget

There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a burger that was just cooked minutes ago outdoors on a hot grill. Barbeques are one of the most fun and delicious parts of summer, and the whole family can join in. By following a few frugal tips, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for your summer grilling.

  • Choose the right grill: Everybody has their own opinion on whether propane or charcoal grills do the job better. Charcoal grills usually cost less and give meats that distinctly barbequed flavor, but the briquettes for charcoal grills are more expensive.  On the flipside, propane grills typically do cost more, but they heat up faster and you’ll pay less for fuel. Propane grills are typically bigger in size, making storing difficult. For cost-effectiveness, it is best to choose a grill that will last and suits your needs. Talk to salespeople and search online for reviews of the grills you are considering.
  • Don’t waste fuel: According to, you can make the most of your fuel by turning the grill off when you’re done using it. This will help you avoid unnecessary burning. Also, if you use charcoal, don’t immediately discard half-burned briquettes. Reusing them for the next meal will help you get maximum usage out of your fuel.
  • Rethink your meats: Almost anything you cook on a grill is going to be good, especially with the addition of spices or barbeque sauce, so don’t buy expensive cuts of meat for grilling. Instead, opt for bone-in cuts—these are actually better for grilling because the bone helps retain flavor and prevent the meat from drying out. If you are having a party, ask your guests to bring their own meat. You’ll save money and you won’t need to account for everyone’s likes and dislikes.
  • Don’t forget the veggies: Grilling vegetables are an efficient way to make the most use of your grill, not to mention the amazing taste. Even if you do not like grilled veggies, you can still use your grill to cook them in other ways, just as you would use a stove. To steam veggies on a grill, for example, simply put them in a lidded pan with some water and stick the pan on the grill.
Barbequing is a surefire way to spice up your normal routine, and you can still do it on a budget. Make sure to be safe when you grill—always grill outside and have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case.

* A big thanks to Frugal Dad for this post! *

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lolo - Hawaiian Shave Ice - Fresno, CA

Updated (2014) pic!
Lolo (Food Truck) - Fresno, CA
"Lolo" means "crazy" ... In this case, it's crazy good, like their sign says.
They sell at school events, private parties, festivals, & fundraisers
Contact: (559) 299-9190 (They'll answer as "Farm Fresh Advertising")

Updated flavors (2014)!

Strawberry & Lime. Mmm.
I finally found a Hawaiian/finely shaved ice (aka "SHAVE ICE" -- not "SHAVED ICE") in the Fresno area! I can't tell you how happy I am. Just ask Grace how many times I've talked about shave ice (not snow cones--there's a huge difference). I've tried shave ice all over the place and only a few have the soft SHAVE ice (the rest have ice that breaks your teeth). The syrups from Lolo are delicious and not too sweet or fake-tasting, and they come from Hawaii, which is the place that inspired the owners to start up this shave ice business. My dad, brother, and I were at a basketball tournament and bought several cups of shave ice on both a Saturday and Sunday last month. Soo goooood. As a bonus, the people working inside were really friendly and helpful, and the interior looked clean. I might have to track down Lolo wherever they go. I ate more from them another day at a car show. I'll mix the pictures together here from different visits.

Root Beer! So good! Perfect. Not too sweet and it tastes just like root beer.

Green tea (good but couldn't taste too much 'cause I was distracted by the Dreamsicle) & Dreamsicle (like a 50/50 bar)

Banana & Pineapple (really good together and alone!)

Strawberry & Grape - Both perfectly sweet

Lime & Melon (Honeydew)

Lime & Grape - YUM

Ling Hing Mui (kinda like watermelon or strawberry Jolly Rancher)

Cinnamon (Red Hots) & Lemon

Vanilla + Dreamsicle. Goood combination.

Vanilla + Dreamsicle from the Vanilla side.

Guava. I usually HATE guava-flavored things, so I didn't think I'd like this, but I did! For some reason it reminded me of Pixie Sticks.
Red hots + apple! Tasty!

Sour Apple - In my opinion perfectly sour vs. sweet.

The Food at Ali & Josh's Wedding - Kingsburg, CA - 6/16/12

They're baseball fans...obviously. This is their awesome cake topper. Here are some baseball wedding decoration ideas for you all.

This is what happens to butter in 105+ degrees:

The dinner food was from Pardini's.

My chicken cordon bleu:

Blake's beef: