Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coco's Bakery: Delicious, cheap, homestyle cookin'!

I've lived in the southeast part of Santa Monica for more than two and half years and until recently, had never tried Coco's Bakery and Restaurant. It just looked like one of those lower-quality chain restaurants frequented by over 60 early birds. While it may be frequented by some over 60's (they have a nice menu just for folks 55 and over) it certainly is not low quality. I've been in recovery from surgery for the past few weeks and my man and I were just hungry for a plain ol' American comfort meal. We just weren't in the mood for the usual sushi or pho, plus we had just seen a commercial for Coco's pies and that kind of gave us that extra push to try the place out.

I love it! I got the prime rib and my boyfriend got the pot roast, both entrees costing less than $11.00 each. The prime rib came with some delicious cream of broccoli soup, fresh steamed veggies, and a baked potato all dressed up. It was quite good, but the pot roast was awesome! It came with a lot of brown rosemary gravy, baby carrots, onions, celery, and mashed potatoes. They also have a special going where you can get any slice of pie for $1.69 with an entree. The coconut cream was mighty tasty! We liked it soo much we returned last night, and this time I got the pot roast and he got the flat-iron steak. The steak was great, too! I was surpised at how flavorful and soft it was. I like the fact that the food isn't greasy like Norms or some of the other chains in the area. The service is also very good and pretty quick.

I'd definitely recommend this place if you're looking for no-fuss, tasty and cheap home-style cooking. Plus, you don't have to dress to impress.

Coco's Bakery & Restaurant
3440 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mixed Review for Yummy Cupcakes

Yummy Cupcakes on UrbanspoonYummy Cupcakes on Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica is one of two locations, the other in Burbank, CA. First off, I like the name... Yummy.. you might have guessed that. Since the shop opened, I have tried a bunch of different flavors: vanilla/vanilla, chocolate/chocolate, mocha, cookies & cream, chocolate mint, brown-sugar cinnamon, peanut butter & jelly, Elvis, Lemon Tart (although I swear it was topped with whipped cream and not buttercream) and probably some others I can't remember. What makes Yummy different from other cupperies is it's unique and creative flavors.

The verdict? Very mixed!! I love the Lemon Tart and Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes. The flavors taste real (as in real peanut butter, real lemon). But, in other cakes, the taste was different. The banana cake in the Elvis cupcake tasted more like flavoring than real banana. Also, the freshness has been spotty. The vanilla/vanilla cupcake I swear was at least day-old. In general, the plain cupcakes like chocolate and vanilla aren't very good. I know the website says they use the best ingredients, but there is just something about the frosting that just tastes.. fake. I would recommend getting one of the more creative variations because I think the added flavors mask the quality issue.

Finally, they NEED some better packaging. If you get one cupcake, it isn't in an appropriately sized wax bag like Sprinkles, it's in a brown paper lunch bag that immediately starts to absorb frosting causing those greasy spots all over the outside of the too-small bag. You can't get your cake out of it without messing it all up. Also, the boxes have no stability. They put two or three cakes in a box and they all just fall everywhere (see my bottom pic, my poor boyfriend presented me with that yesterday). They should take a hint from Le Cupcake and put inserts into their boxes.

Anyway, overall, mixed. Try them for yourself : )

Yummy Cupcakes
313 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blue Rose Cupcake

I am recovering from surgery so my dear friend Katharine gave me this adorable cupcake. I love the way the whole top is one big rose. It was almost like getting a flower as well. It tasted awesome! Like a white birthday cake.

Thanks, darling!!

Cupcake Ban!?!

I've been reading some of the news articles Google has been posting to my blog in the right-side column. Essentially, school districts in New Jersey, Arizona and elsewhere are banning cupcakes brought to school to celebrate kids' birthdays. I agree with this article which points out that this is totally F$%*-ed up!

We all know cupcakes aren't good for you. Ok, maybe they are straight up bad for you in many cases. But, there is actually room for food that is bad for you in all of our diets. Reality dictates this. Who eats healthy food all the time? NO one! The time to eat these unhealthy foods are days when we treat ourselves, when there is a celebration, when we remember that life is about guilty pleasure sometimes. As long as it's in moderation, it is OK. Teaching kids they shouldn't celebrate a birthday with cake just sends the wrong message about when treats are supposed to be eaten. If not on a birthday, then when?

I was involved in the Big Sister program back in Boston. My little sister, who was 10, would tell me she had 2 Cokes at school that day. 2 Cokes??? I didn't have soda until I could buy it at the store at age 12. Why are these available in school to begin with? School lunch when I was young was portion controlled food with MAYBE a small cookie for dessert and MILK. Now, kids eat buffet style and pick whatever it is they want, including soda. They have vending machines full of crap available to them all day long. THIS is what needs to change. I am one of those gals who will run a tight ship when I have a family. Elementary school is when we should be teaching our kids what to eat and building good habits with what we serve, not giving them the choice to eat all that crap. Kids are too young to make healthy choices at that age. But, we shouldn't start with birthday cupcakes. It's not about birthdays, it's about every day, healthy eating.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cake Mania

I wish I was talking about real cakes right now. Sadly, I am stuck in bed recovering from surgery. So, the only cakes I'll be making are in Cake Mania, the addictive PC game. You can try it out for free.. so give it a shot! The worst that can happen is a little wasted time. But then again fun is never a waste : )

P.S. If you need tips or have questions about it, feel free to use the comment area here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad

I know this is an easy, obvious thing to make. But, it tasted so good I thought I'd post about it real quick. If anything, I just want to remind you of how tasty this simple salad is. I really think it is the fresh basil that makes it. I bought a basil plant... it died. I've got this little window box herb garden just outside of my apartment. But, with the California summer sun, the basil was just too delicate. Rosemary seems to stay alive nicely, along with mint and oregano, for a while. At any rate, if you can keep fresh herbs around, they are pretty much the best way to make things instantly delicious.

For my salad, I sliced up Roma tomatoes. I used small mozzarella balls so no prep there, and placed them and the fresh basil leaves on top of the tomatoes. I drizzled extra virgin olive oil and WHITE, yes, white balsamic vinegar on top. It's lighter than regular balsamic but still adds some of that great flavor. Some salt and pepper and you're all set. Enjoy it with your next pizza, stuffed peppers, or antipasto.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I am making an effort to live a healthier life. I meditated and went to the gym this morning. With my boyfriend gone for a week, I thought this would be a really good time to start (you know how it is ladies). I figured a good, and fun, thing I could do would be to start experimenting with some healthier cupcakes, hence the anise cupcakes I just made. The fact that they were vegan and made with agave nectar is what made them healthier. However, there is no way I am making cupcakes today.. it's too hot!

Also, despite getting plenty of vitamin D from living in sunny California, I decided to get back into taking vitamins, so I reviewed what I had and did some research. I decided to use the Women's Health Magazine vitamin guidelines. They say that it's actually very easy to take too many of certain kinds of vitamins and end up with adverse affects. It makes me wonder what I was doing back in the day when I used to load up on Women's Ultra Mega, extra vitamin C's, and other supplements. Crazy! In addition to what they've recommended, I also plan to take some good Omega 3's, which have a lot of health benefits.

Wishing you good health..