Beautiful Big Sur

Living in the Bay Area has many perks. One of them being that at short notice and a couple of hours away one can drive to a totally different place, with different scenic beauty. One such place is Big Sur. A quick weekend get away for a quick weekend refresher.

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La Paz, Baja California Sur

The highlight of our 10 day road trip to Baja California Sur was most definitely our stay in La Paz. The BCS capital was such a delightful little town and we have been recommending it to all our friends and family. It’s the perfect getaway from all the crowds and noise of Los Cabos. The people were great, the food was excellent and the memories of La Paz will be etched in our minds forever.

The list provide by The Adventure Junkies was as a very helpful guide to La Paz.. We covered some of their recommendaions and we discovered some new things as well. This is my list of top 5 things to do when you are in La Paz (which overlaps partly with The Adventure Junkies).

1. Snorkel with Sea Lions & Whale Sharks

Shorkeling with the sea lions at Isla Espiritu is an absolute MUST when you are in La Paz. We booked our first tour of Snorkeling with the Sea Lions with Espiritu Y Baja (Great tour providers! Check them out on TripAdvisor). The playful sea lions, the beautiful corals and the colorful fish are truly an experience you do not want to miss out on. If you are lucky like we were you might even see whales, manta rays and dolphins.

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Waters around Isla Espiritu

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Our second tour (again with Espiritu Y Baja) was whale shark snorkeling. Much closer to the shore, this trip requires you to be ready to SWIM as these fish can be very fast when they are feeding. Snorkeling with these big and super chill fish was not what we expected and I am glad we decided to do this before we left for La Paz. The come pretty close to the boats as well sometimes, so if you are not snorkeling be ready with you camera in the boat!

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2. Take a day trip to Todos Santos

About 1-1.5 hours away by road is the little artsy town of Todos Santos on the Pacific side of BCS. Todos Santos was not initially on our itinerary, but we ended up driving there on two days. There are several art stores and galleries peppered along the streets. We went without knowing what to expect, and spent the afternoon just roaming in and out of galleries. If you want a change in scene and want to get away from the beach for a while, Todos Santos is the perfect place to reconnect with your creative side.

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3. Fish Tacos

So we tried to eat where most of the locals eat during our trip as we realised early in our trip that the yummiest food was always there. We were recommended the BEST place for fish tacos in La Paz, which is a block behind the Cathedral. The husband is not a big fan of fish but we ended up going here on 2 days, so that’s saying something about the place!

4. La Fuente

The Adventure Junkies recommended this place and I knew I just had to try the Tequila ice cream. Check it out and try their different flavours (I however just stuck to the Tequila ice cream ! 🙂 )

5. Playa Balandra

About 20 kms out of La Pa is  the quite and beautiful beach of Playa Balandra. Clear and shallow waters make this beach one of my favorite beaches ever! You can walk in for almost a mile and the water will be barely up to your hip. The lack of crowds makes this beach the ideal place to spread a beach towel under a thatched palapa and spend several hours.

(Note: Keep a look out for sting rays as they are found at this beach.)

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Apple Walnut Cake

So I was rather bored this Friday night and I had a couple of apples which needed to be used up. So I looked up a recipe I had pinned on Pinterest a while ago. I followed it mostly, but made a few changes.

I reduced the apples from 1.5 cups to 1 cup as I wanted to add in walnuts for a nice crunch. And also because I absolutely love walnuts in cakes. So I added 1 cup of walnuts to the recipe. I reduced the sugar down to 1/2 cup.

The cake came out smelling fabulous. And the taste you ask? DE.LI.CIOUS.

So here are the ingredients you will need for this modified recipe:

1 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour

1 Cup shredded apples

1 Cup walnuts

1/2 Cup sugar

1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt

4 oz. of butter (softened)

1 Egg

1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

1 Tsp Cinnamon powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

 

Steps:

1. Pre-heat the over to 340F and dust a loaf tin with flour and set aside.  In mixing bowl add the sugar, vanilla essence and egg, and mix well. Then add the yogurt and make sure all the ingredients are mixed well.

eggs sugar vanilla

2. In this wet mixture sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix well.

before apples

Mix mix mix.

3. Now add the shredded apples and then add the walnuts and ensure both are combined well and spread evenly in the cake dough.

shredded apples

Shredded Apples.

 

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Freshly cracked walnuts.

4. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin and bake for 45 mins. The aroma that fills your kitchen will delight you! 🙂

Ready to go in!

Ready to go in!

5. Ensure that the cake is baked through. Set it out to cool.

baked

At this stage the smell in your kitchen is divine.

6. Cut your self a piece and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.

side view slices

Cool it. Slice it.

 

top view slices

 

coffee cake

Perfect accompaniment for the morning cuppa.

 

 

 

Bake-No-Bake Pretzel Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

For a while now I wanted to make something with Peanut Butter and Chocolate, but wasn’t finding any recipe inspiring enough. Finally I found a recipe on bakingthegoods.com and another recipe on ibakeheshoots.com. These provided great inspiration. So I mashed up these two and tadaaa… I have for you (well, actually for myself) a very yummy looking pie.

Ingredients:

1 cup Snyder’s Peanut Butter Pretzels

3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter (I used Skippy)

4 oz Whipping Cream (for the pie filling) + 4oz Whipping Cream (for the chocolate ganache)

5 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

2 Tbsp Honey

5 Tbsp Butter

pinch of sea salt

 

Steps:

1.Pre-heat the oven at 350F. Using a food processor, grind the pretzels for the crust. Added the melted butter to the crushed pretzels and mix well. Press the mixture evenly into the  pie pan/dish.

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2. Put the pie pan inside the oven and let is bake for 13-15 mins. Once done, set aside to cool. Depending on your oven and the pies dish you use, you might want to bake it a little longer, if required. Mine did not stay put together as I had hoped.

The crust baked and ready to cook.

The crust baked and ready to cool.

3. In a large mixing bowl, add 4 oz of whipping cream and the peanut butter. Mix well together. After this add the honey and ensure all the three ingredients are incorporated well.

Mix mix mix.

Mix mix mix.

4. Once the crust has cooled and is firm, add this mixture into the crust and spread it out evenly.

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5. Moving on to the chocolate ganache, heat the remaining 4 oz of whipping cream. Once it starts simmering pour it over the chocolate chips and mix well. Once mixed, pour it over the pie and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle over with sea salt.

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My trusted Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips.

6. Pop the pie pan/dish in the refrigerator and let it set firm for a few hours before you serve.

Dig in!

Dig in!

 

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Painted Wooden Spoons

So summer is almost over, but I needed to add some cheer to the kitchen.

My super creative mother was in town and inspired me to redo parts of the home and make a few additions.

Created these cool and colourful spoons with a few cheap and easily available items.The spoons I picked up from a dollar plus store, a pack of 4 for $1.99.

 

In Progress.

In Progress.

Used the acrylic paints I had at home to paint the spoons in different patterns.

Tied them up with some string and voila!!

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All tied up.

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Finally some colour in my kitchen :).

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache with Coconut Milk

So in the name of trying new things and different substitutes, I tried making Chocolate Ganache with Coconut Milk. And I can proudly say, it came out pretty well. The Coconut Milk added a nice subtle flavor to the ganache.

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Coconut Milk

The great thing about using Coconut milk is that, it can be a part of Paleo and Vegan diets as well. I read online that Coconut Milk is allowed for Paleo diets and that some not-so-strict Paleo diets allow for dark chocolate as well, in moderation. As for Vegan diets, just replace the chocolate with vegan chocolate and you can dive right into this ganache.

The steps I followed are the same as for making Chocolate Ganache with heavy cream.

Ingredients:

5 oz. Dark Chocolate Morsels

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

 

Steps:

1. Heat 1/2 cup of milk in a saucepan.

2. As the milk just starts to simmer, take the pan off the heat and pour the milk over the Chocolate morsels or chips.

3. Mix the chocolate and the milk well. Pop it into the fridge to cool.

4. Use as you please :).

 

Mixing it up!

Mixing it up!

 

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*drool*

 

Beachy Break @ Redondo Beach, Half Moon Bay

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Redondo Beach

Now who can resist such a gorgeous beach?!!

After a quick look online search for a nice beach close by, we found some raving reviews for Redondo Beach at Half Moon Bay. A short drive there and we were surprised with a beautiful view of the ocean. The walk down to the beach is a bit tricky, as it is a bit slippery and steep but it is short way down.

Soft sand, clean beach, not too crowded, doggy friendly and fabulous waves. A perfect getaway without having to get away too far from home :).

The beach.

The Ocean.

 

The Beach.

The Beach.