RECIPE – THE BEST GUACAMOLE

One of my favorite things to do in Santa Barbara is to host outdoor dinner parties {basically, a slightly upscale version of a barbecue}.  We’ve been fortunate enough to have had beautiful weather as of late, so I was able to host a dinner in January and February.  Without hesitation, I knew I’d be making guacamole to keep people happy before the meal was served.  Each time, the guacamole was gone… every last bit of it.  This is my very favorite guacamole recipe… I hope you love it as much as I do.

RECIPE FOR BLONDER AMBITIONS’ VERSION OF THE BEST GUACAMOLE

  • 5 ripe Hass avocados
  • 3 limes
  • 1 red onion
  • Bundle of cilantro
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • *I like to get all of the ingredients from the local Farmer’s Market
  1. Halve all of the avocados and remove the pits.  Scoop the avocado out and place it in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut all of the limes into quarters.  Squeeze all of the juice on top of the avocado halves in the mixing bowl.
  3. Chop the red onion into small pieces.  Place the chopped onion in the mixing bowl.
  4. Chop the cilantro into fine pieces.  Place the chopped cilantro in the mixing bowl.
  5. Using a fork, mash the avocado and stir in all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Give a final stir to the ingredients in the mixing bowl.
  7. Transfer guacamole to a serving dish with fresh tortilla chips and enjoy!

FABULOUS SANTA BARBARA SPOT – EUREKA!

The Story: When a new place opens up in Santa Barbara, there’s always quite a bit of buzz… When I heard about Eureka!, I was told they specialized in gourmet burgers and really creative libations. As a good burger and a cocktail are two of my very favorite things, I knew I had to give it a shot and see if it lived up to the hype.

The Place: Eureka! has a relaxed, yet polished, appearance. Loads of dark wood give the place a slightly masculine feel (a decor choice that I love), but the mood is lightened through the use of playful light fixtures, huge windows, and a bright eye-catching bar (with more beers on tap than I could count). References to surf culture abound; a photo of a surfer chick designates one of the restrooms for the women and art referencing Rincon and Jalama can be found adorning the walls. During the day, the ambiance is relaxed and California casual.  As the sun begins to set, the surround instantly changes as young people flock to get a table or a seat at the bar before the place fills up. After taking in the environment, I knew that if the cocktails and burgers lived up to the comfortable and inviting design of the space (spoiler alert: they did!), then I was in for a treat.

The Experience: I went in to Eureka! with my sister and two of my favorite friends and we all ordered a different cocktail and entree (tasting all of them, of course). We decided to share appetizers, so we started with the Bruschetta and the Lollipop Corn Dogs.  The Bruschetta had a wonderfully unexpected flavor due to the incorporation of goat cheese and lemon zest in the recipe. The Lollipop Corn Dogs were anything but standard because of the condiments that accompanied the pops; the spicy porter mustard, ketchup made in-house and the cheddar IPA sauce were all equally excellent. When it was time for the main course, I ordered the Jalapeño Egg Burger and the Vodka (their cocktails are named after the liquor used in the libation). The cocktail was highly aromatic (thank you, muddled basil) and light (per the inclusion of freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice); I would definitely order it again.  The burger was insanely delicious… the yolk of the egg melded with the crisp bacon, spicy jalapeño, and just-sweet-enough chipotle sauce perfectly. I got my burger with a side of honey and cinnamon covered sweet potato fries (must try). My sister (and the talent behind the photographs in this article!) had the Italian Caprese Burger with a side of Handcut Kennebec Potato Fries. She loved the strength of the basil and the touch of balsamic glaze (she ordered another side of this for her fries). For her drink, she opted for the Rum (two rums, one of them spiced, combined with a medley of fresh citrus juices and a hint of vanilla bean)… I had a sip (or two!) and I immediately felt like I was in the tropics. One of my girlfriends ordered the Fig Marmalade Burger with the Panko Crusted Onion Rings and the Gin. The burger (which I ordered on one of my previous excursions to Eureka!) is covered in goat cheese and jam; in my book, that pretty much makes the burger flawless. The Gin was an incredibly unique concoction: junipero gin with maraschino cherry liqueur served over crushed ice, like a lighter version of an alcohol-filled snowcone. The last member in our party (we’ll refer to her as the “healthy one”), ordered the Watermelon Salad (mixed with quinoa, feta, and a balsamic lemon dressing) and the Tequila (a freshly-squeezed-juice-version of your typical margarita… but so. much. better.). She raved about her salad and drank every last drop of her cocktail.
*TIP:  John, the manager, and Charlie, the service manager and social media guru, are both astute and aware… Due to this, the customer service is excellent even amidst the lively, bustling environment.

The Details: Eureka! is a definite must-try.  All burgers can be made with beef, chicken, turkey or bison (raised on Catalina Island). You can also get all burgers made “naked” (on a bed of lettuce) or tortilla wrapped. None of Eureka!’s drinks contain high fructose corn syrup. There’s live acoustic music every Thursday night. Burgers start at $9.50 and drinks start around $9. You can check out Eureka!’s website here.  Stop by {601 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101} or call and make a reservation {805.618.3388}.

All photo credit for this article goes to my incredible sister, Kaitland. xo

RECIPE TO TRY – BUTTERFINGER CAKE


It was my task to make a birthday cake for a very untraditional birthday boy… so I followed this {oh-so-easy} untraditional recipe that I found on Six Sisters’ Sweet Stuff and it was a complete success {judging from the fact that not a single piece was left in the pan by the end of the meal}.

RECIPE TO TRY – REESES CHEESECAKE BROWNIES


I am a girl with a serious sweet tooth.  Anything that has sugar in it tends to make me happy.  When I saw a brownie that combined three of my major loves {chocolate, cheesecake, and peanut butter} I knew I had to try it.  I found the recipe through Pinterest and it led me to the recipe on Pip & Ebby.  I tried it. I loved it. Confession: I ate half the pan. Second confession: I didn’t regret it for a second.

RECIPE TO TRY – OREO TRUFFLE BROWNIES


I have two things to thank for this: 1. My {overwhelmingly popular} post on Slutty Brownies… which led me to 2. Searching other delectable brownie recipes on Pinterest and stumbling upon this gem from Raising 4 Princesses: The Oreo Truffle Brownie.  This brownie recipe knocked my socks off. De-lish!!!

It’s this simple:

1. Make brownies {go ahead and use a box mix. You won’t be able to tell}. Put them in the fridge to cool.
2. Put two sleeves of Oreos in a ziplock bag and smash them up.
3. Mix the smashed up Oreos with 8oz of softened cream cheese.
4. Spread the mixture on the cooled brownies.
5. Melt 1/2 bag of semisweet chocolate chips on the stove and spread on top.
6. Refrigerate and try not to eat the whole thing all at once!

RECIPE TO TRY – SLUTTY BROWNIES


My Pinterest obsession/addiction has led me to many phenomenal recipes… and I am ridiculously grateful that I stumbled upon this one.  These brownies are the very best brownies that I have EVER consumed. Seriously.  And, they are quite easy {hence the term “slutty”}.  I found the recipe on The Londoner.  It requires the following:

1 Box chocolate chip cookie mix
1 box brownie mix {I went with Ultimate Fudge for extra gooey-ness}
Eggs {as called for on the box mix}
Oil {as called for on the box mix}
Butter {as called for on the box mix}
Double stuffed oreos

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 baking tray with parchment paper. Make the cookie mix and mush it into the bottom of the tray. Then cover that with double stuffed oreos. Then make the brownie mix and pour it evenly over the top. Bake the entire thing for the time listed on the brownie mix box.  Easy. Delicious. Bonus points if you eat it while it’s still warm with some ice cream.

RECIPE TO TRY – CHILI, JALAPENO CHEDDAR CORNBREAD MUFFINS, & HONEY WHIPPED BUTTER

In a word (or two… okay, three): ultimate comfort food. There is nothing I love more than comfort food.  My daddy is a Texan… so it’s in my blood that the ultimate comfort food is chili and cornbread.  I whipped up the whole meal in literally 10 minutes (leave it to simmer for at least an hour and a half, though… chili is all about the simmer).  I used a ridiculously simple recipe (find it here).  Then I used some basic cornbread mix and threw some diced jalapenos and cheddar cheese into the batter.  I cooked up the cornbread muffins in my Babycakes maker (my obsession is highlighted here).  The honey whipped butter is literally as easy as it sounds (whip honey into some butter, sweetheart. See? Easy.)… There is nothing glamourous about chili (as you can see with my oh-so-simple and totally-not-glamourous pics)… but there is something so ridiculously satisfying about it.  And, of course, the ultimate Meal for Your Man (or, come on, just for your wonderful self!) testament is the review from… well, a man.  My man tester’s words {after a long “Mmmmmm”}: “This is my second favorite chili ever.  My mom’s is the best, of course” (smart answer)… For such a simple recipe, I was thrilled with the compliment. Oh, and he ate (at least) five muffins. I consider it a success.  So, get simmerin’… you. will. love. this.