The Counter #theNEWgoods and a Giveaway

Disclosure: The Counter provided me with gift cards to enjoy a meal for the purpose of this blog post. I happen to love The Counter, so I jumped at the chance!

I’m what some people may consider a picky eater. I’m very particular about what I like and don’t like, and that coupled with the fact that I haven’t eaten beef or pork for 20-something years makes me the person no one wants to share a meal with (or the person the chef hates). Fortunately, there are restaurants like The Counter, where you are encouraged to build your own burger, rather than get shamed for making substitutions! And I’m lucky that there is a location walking distance from my apartment, so it’s a great local place to meet up with friends.

Two quick things first: 1. They have two hours free parking with validation. This is a rarity in Hollywood, so it’s a huge plus for friends that don’t live as close as I do. 2. I just discovered they have sangria. Need I say more?

Build Your Own Burger

Anyway, for those of you who want to order off the menu, there are a bunch of new delicious Expert Builds menu items to choose from the next time you’re there!

  • Red Eye: hormone and antibiotic free beef topped with melted tillamook cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, ripened red tomato, a sunny side up egg on an English muffin with a side of sweet sriracha
  • Un-Brie-lievable: 100% natural ground turkey on a bed of organic mixed greens topped with soft-ripened brie, ripened red tomato, dried cranberries on a multigrain bun with a side of apricot sauce
  • Bison with Bite: organic bison topped with tillamook cheddar, spicy pickles, sliced red onion on a brioche style bun with a side of house mustard and spicy worcestershire
  • Southeast Asian Ahi: ahi tuna topped with pickled carrot and daikon slaw, ripened red tomato on a brioche style bun with a side of nori-soy sauce and sweet sriracha
  • Anaheim Jack: 100% natural chicken breast topped with jalapeno jack, Anaheim peppers, red onions on a ciabatta bun with a side of roasted garlic aioli

My friends and I used the new menu items as inspiration for our dinner choices, and we all loved our meals. The counter has a wide range of protein options (beef, turkey, bison, tuna, and chicken), as well as a veggie burger for those that don’t eat meat, so we did a little swapping and were super satisfied.

I had the Anaheim Jack with turkey rather than chicken, and it was delicious. I loved the spice from the jalapeno jack, and the garlic aioli was divine. And they sure don’t skimp on the peppers!
The Anaheim Jack with a turkey burger instead of chicken #theNEWgoods

One of my friends had the Un-Brie-lievable over lettuce instead of the bun, and swapped the turkey burger for a veggie burger. She said she was pleasantly surprised at how well the brie and cranberries went with the tomatoes. Two thumbs up! Side note: Isn’t it pretty?
The Un-Brie-lievable, with a veggie burger on lettuce #theNEWgoods

Of course, we also enjoyed some sangria, because well, it was 70 degrees out and…sangria!
Sangria!

And a trip to The Counter isn’t complete without an order of fries. We went for the fifty-fifty with sweet potato and parmesan fries; the sweet potato were our faves.
Half sweet potato fries, half parmesan fries.

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, we decided to order the oversized chocolate chip cookie a la mode with three spoons. I’m a sucker for a warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream, and I wasn’t disappointed. We ate every single bite!
Oversized Chocolate Chip Cookie a la mode.

Want to know what The Counter is up to on social? Follow them here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCounter
Twitter: @CounterBurger
Instagram: @thecounterburger

Jealous yet? Don’t be! The Counter is also providing one lucky blog reader with a $25 gift card, so enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Passover Desserts

Are you in charge of desserts for the Passover seders? Have no fear, I’ve got you covered with lots of delicious treats! Our faves are the Chocolate Walnut Cookies, Chocolate Chip Meringues, and of course, Matzo Brittle. Have a great Pesach!

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

A few months ago, I noticed a deal on Amazon Local for a chocolate walking tour of Beverly Hills. As you know by now, I love sweets, especially chocolate, so this was right up my alley! Plus, I hadn’t tried half of the shops on the list, so this was the perfect excuse to finally check them out. So, along with my sister Bethany and friend Randi, we set out to taste some of the best chocolate in Beverly Hills, on foot!

Mar 22, 2014, 3:36 PM

The tour was organized by Great Food Tours and led by Jason, who was very knowledgeable about not only each shop we visited, but LA and Beverly Hills as well. He shared interesting facts and details about local landmarks, and even those of us who have lived here for decades still learned something new. If you’re looking for something different to do with local friends or out of towners, this is a super fun way to spend two hours walking around Beverly Hills while experiencing great food!

The day of our tour the weather was absolutely perfect–68 degrees and a sunny sky. We started out at Sprinkles Cupcakes where we were treated to a mini Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcake–dark chocolate cake filled with marshmallow cream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. Rich, moist, and delicious!

Sprinkles Cupcakes on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

From there, we walked down Little Santa Monica to Sugarfina, which I had driven past a gazillion times but never been in. The store is gorgeous–clean lines, simple colors, and their displays and packaging are beautiful.

Sugarfina on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

We were given a few candy options to sample–I went with the Champagne Bubbles and the Robin’s Egg Caramel. The champagne bubbles have tiny nonpareils on the outside, giving it some crunch, and the champagne flavor came through nicely. The robin’s egg was perfect–dark chocolate, amazing caramel, and a candy shell.

Sugarfina on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

We were also treated to a small bag of our choice, and I selected the Champagne Bears because, well, champagne and gummi candy–how awesome is that?

Champagne Bears from Sugarfina on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

On the way to our next shop, we stopped at the Beverly Hills Visitor Center and I learned they have coupon books with great deals, including two for one Sprinkles cupcakes! So next time you’re in the area, swing by and snag one! They’re located right across the street from the Paley Center.

Next, we walked down to Beverly Drive to Edelweiss Chocolates. The woman working there was absolutely adorable, and even let us see their factory, which is mainly just supplies and marble slabs because they do everything by hand!

Edelweiss Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

While there, we tasted the dark chocolate covered marshmallow which was incredibly fluffy and fresh, and nothing like a store-bought one.

Edelweiss Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

Fun fact: Edelweiss was the inspiration for the I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode.

Edelweiss Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

Stop number four was Lette Macarons, located on Charleville just east of Beverly Drive. It’s a place I’m all too familiar with because I used to get my eyebrows done across the street, and would treat myself to a salted caramel macaron each time I had an appointment. It’s an expensive but delicious addiction! Anyway, on the tour we sampled their Caribbean Chocolate macaron, which is filled with an incredibly rich and delicious chocolate ganache. Fun fact: Lette’s architect won the City of Beverly Hills Design Award for the concept and design.

Lette Macarons on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

We then continued down Beverly to Vosges Haut-Chocolate where we tasted a Naga Truffle made from curry powder, coconut, and milk chocolate, a very unique combination! p.s. Ignore my horrible polish job in the following photo.

Curry truffle at Vosges Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

We also learned the proper way to eat a truffle–rub the flat bottom with your thumb, turn it upside down, take a bite, feel the texture on your tongue, then eat the rest. Not sure I’ll always do that, but good to know when it’s time to bust out a fun fact at a dinner party.

Vosges Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

Taking a break from chocolates, we then visited Beverly Hills Brownie Company. They have every flavor brownie imaginable, but since this was a chocolate tour, we sampled the Simply Classic flavor. Dense and fudgy, this will definitely help with any chocolate craving!

Beverly Hills Brownie Company on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

Our last stop on the tour was Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland, located on Brighton Way. Apparently champagne was the flavor of the day, because we were treated to Champagne Truffles made with Dom Pérignon and covered in dark chocolate.

Teuscher Chocolates on the Chocolate Tour of Beverly Hills

Not only did I get to try delicious local treats, I got to explore Beverly Hills on foot, something I don’t do very often. It was obvious that everyone on the tour really enjoyed the experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

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I haven’t been posting much lately, but that is about to change. I’ve been working at home for myself since last April, so I haven’t had regular guinea pigs to try new recipes out on. But…I’ll be starting a new job next week which means lots of coworkers who hopefully like sweets! And coworkers who like sweets means captive guinea pigs. So stay tuned for more recipes on a regular basis again. Now let’s talk about baked donuts…

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

This recipe rocks! These donuts are soooo good, and I’m not even a donut person. They’re like moist and fluffy mini cakes that are intended to be eaten for breakfast. What could be bad about that, right?

Plus, this recipe finally gave me the opportunity to use the cinnamon sugar grinder I got from Trader Joe’s. See the sugar chunks in the photo? Brilliant! Next time you’re at TJ’s, pick one up, it’s amazing and so perfect for this recipe!

Seriously good baked cinnamon sugar donuts!

Batter Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk

Topping Ingredients
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a donut pans.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into donut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, and shake warm doughnuts in a bag of cinnamon-sugar.

Yields 12 to 14 donuts.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

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I love baking, but doing the dishes is a whole other story. When I find complex recipes that I know I must try, I tend to break up the steps and get as much stuff done in advance so I don’t have to wash and rewash dishes all day.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

So when I discover recipes like Hershey’s amazingly moist one-bowl chocolate cake, I have to share the details with everyone. Not only is it super easy to make, I used one bowl, two measuring cups, two measuring spoons, and a spatula. That’s it! The only thing that makes this recipe even better is that you can use it to make layer cakes, a bundt cake, a 9 x 13 cake, or cupcakes! It’s the perfect chocolate cake recipe, and each time I make it, I receive tons of compliments.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

This time, I made a bundt because I hate frosting cakes and it’s amazing what a little dusting of powered sugar can do to elicit ooohs and aaahs. (It’s true, I made this for a New Year’s Eve party and everyone raved about it.) But I’ve also made this as cupcakes and layers cakes, I love that it’s so veratile.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Disclosure: I received a bundt pan from Baker’s Secret.

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preparation
Quick note about temperature: If you’re using a dark pan, you should lower the temperature 25°. If you’re using glass or a light pan, leave it as the recipe says. Here you can see the two different colored pans–since I used the dark Baker’s Secret pan, I lowered the temp. (Side note: The Baker’s Secret pan has HANDLES. Do you know how much easier it is to hold and flip a bundt pan with handles? Pure brilliance!)

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour appropriate baking pan(s). (See below for variations.)

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan(s).

Pan Variations
12 cup Bundt pan: Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Dust with powered sugar.

Two 9″ round cake pans: Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

One 9×13 baking pan: Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost.

Three 8″ round cake pans: Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Recipe from Hershey’s.

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