Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mother’s Day Spa Day

Is it just me, or is spring totally flying by?  I feel like we just finished March, and now we are about to leap into May.  April basically just came and went/

May is one of my favorite months because the weather starts warming up (ok, going from 70s to 80s in SoCal), the days are really starting to get longer, and summer is right around the corner which means delicious food on the grill, fresh watermelon and drinks al fresco.

May also means Mother’s Day is right around the corner.  Traditionally my family goes to brunch on Mother’s Day and we enjoy delicious food, drink champagne, and have a great time.  But in addition to a yummy brunch I was thinking of doing something else for my mom to help her relax and enjoy her Mother’s Day weekend.  I’m a big fan of spas (who isn’t?), and Burke Williams is offering some awesome Mother’s Day spa packages this year for Mother’s Day throughout their locations in Orange County and Los Angeles.

I have only been to Burke Williams a couple of times, but every time I have went it was an enjoyable experience and I always leave telling myself that I must do this more often.

If you are a spa fanatic like me, then definitely check out the deals below – they are just too good to pass up this Mother’s Day!  And I think it’s the perfect thing to treat mom to before enjoying that brunch and champagne!

 Burke Williams Mission Viejo Deals:

 Relax Package: Just $159 (regular price $205)

Enjoy a 25-minute Sugar Glo with your choice of a 50-minute Burke Williams Massage -or- a 50-minute Spa Style Facial with peel.

Escape Package: Just $259 (regular price $335)

Indulge in a 25-minute Sugar Glo with a 50-minute Burke Williams Massage -and- a 50-minute Spa Style Facial with peel.

For Two – A Special Mother/Daughter Experience: Just $289 (regular price $370) *I think I need to do this one with my mom!

Each of you will enjoy a 25-minute Sugar Glo with your choice of a 50-minute Pure Relaxation Massage or a 50-minute Spa Style Facial.

Mother’s Day Deals at Burke Williams Orange, West Hollywood, Torrance, Santa Monica, Pasadena and Sherman Oaks:

 Relax Package: Just $145 (regular price $180)

Enjoy a Spa Pedicure with your choice of a 50-minute Burke Williams Massage -or- a 50-minute Spa Style Facial with peel.

Escape Package: Just $245 (regular price $310)

Indulge in a Spa Pedicure with a 50-minute Burke Williams Massage -and- a 50-minute Spa Style Facial with peel.

For Two – A Special Mother/Daughter Experience: Just $275 (regular price $360)

Each of you will enjoy a Spa Pedicure with your choice of a 50-minute Burke Williams Massage or a 50-minute Spa Style Facial with peel.

All of the spa deals above will be available until Sunday, May 13th.  Visit a Burke Williams location nearest you or reserve online at  Be sure to mention this deal when making an appointment!

Will Run for Brunch (and Champagne)

A couple of months ago my mom asked the Englishman and I if we would be interested in running a 5k in Costa Mesa that was a fundraiser for all the schools in the district she teaches in .  The Englishman and I were game, and after a few weeks of training (this was his first 5k ever) we knocked it out in just over 30 minutes even though the course was long and had major steep hills!  My mom wasn’t far behind, clocking in at just over 40 minutes, so it was a successful day for all parties involved.

One of my favorite things about running is having a nice brunch after.  There’s nothing more rewarding than sitting down to a nice plate of pancakes, eggs and a cup of tea after you have completed your workout for the day.  So naturally after our successful 5k, the Englishman, my mom and I headed to Plums Cafe for a post-race brunch.

Since we were all in a celebratory mood, we decided to order the special “brunch option,” which meant for an additional $8 we got coffee or tea and a glass of champagne with our brunch.  The tea arrived in cute little teapots (similar to the ones at Nick’s) and made me question once again why I don’t have these in my own house.

And then the champagne came out.  A perfect treat after a hilly run.

Once we were nice and hydrated from tea and champagne it was time to dig into the food.  I kept it simple with the scrambled eggs, peppered bacon, toast and fruit.

I’m not always the biggest bacon fan, but there’s something about this peppered bacon at Plums that is just so good.  I pretty much devoured the bacon before moving on to the eggs and toast, which were also quite tasty.

The Englishman went a similar route and ordered poached eggs, potatoes, bacon and toast.

My mom got the blueberry pancakes with blueberry compote.  Pancakes are one of the #1 things Plums is known for, so I knew these would be good.

And good they were!  I managed to steal a few (maybe more than a few) bites before my mom kindly asked me that I not eat her entire meal.

It had been awhile since I had been to Plums, but after this brunch I know my visits will definitely be more frequent.  Everything tasted delicious and the service was spot on.  Other restaurants could definitely learn a thing or two from Plums.  Three cheers for the perfect post-race brunch!

Plums Cafe

369 East 17th Street

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Pineapple Ginger Quinoa

Sundays generally are “prep meals for the week” for the Englishman and I.  We update our weekly calendar whiteboard with meals for the next week and figure out how much we can prep on Sunday since we both work long hours and aren’t usually in the mood to be in full on dinner prep mode after work.

This Sunday was no different.  The Englishman got to baking his bread for the week (bread recipes to come soon!), I prepped pasta and butternut squash to make this tasty dish on Monday, and I made a big batch of quinoa that could be used for a variety of meals throughout the week.

Since I knew we were having fresh fish for dinner tonight, I figured I could get creative and use some of the quinoa to make a delicious side dish that would complement the fish.  Enter Pineapple Ginger Quinoa.

This side dish is very simple, and can be jazzed up with some peppers or veggies of your choice!  I kept it pretty basic this time around, but I think for next time I’ll add in some chives or cilantro to kick it up a bit.

Pineapple Ginger Quinoa


1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 cups pineapple (I used fresh, but canned will work)

1 large shallot

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh ginger

1 lime, cut into wedges

salt and pepper to taste.


If you don’t have cooked quinoa already prepped, cook your quinoa until it is light and fluffy.  I tend to add the coconut oil while the quinoa is cooking, but you can add it in later (or omit it) if you like.

While the quinoa is cooking, cut up your shallot into small pieces and dice your pineapple into small chunks.

Once quinoa is fully cooked, pour the tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet and saute your chopped shallot until it starts to turn a golden brown.  Add in the quinoa, pineapple, ginger, coconut oil (if you didn’t cook the quinoa with it) and mix well.  Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with lime wedges and enjoy either by itself or as a side dish.  Like I mentioned above, this dish pairs very well with fresh fish as pictured below.

Happy Cooking!

Lucca Cafe: Birthday Edition

If you are a regular reader of Sweet Potato Bites you know that I have written about Lucca Cafe numerous times.  So it should really be no surprise that I am writing about Lucca once again.

The reason for our recent trip to Lucca was to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  She recently signed up for Lucca’s birthday club (visit Lucca’s website to sign up!), and was excited to use her birthday coupon for a free entrée and birthday “surprise.”  So on Saturday evening, my parents, the Englishman and grandparents descended upon Lucca for a bit o’birthday celebrating.

Whenever my family dines at Lucca we always start out with one of Lucca’s signature cheeseboards which includes a variety of cheeses, crostini, dried and fresh fruit.

This cheeseboard included a Cotswold Cheddar, Ewephoria Gouda and Midnight Moon Goat Cheese.  The Gouda is missing from the picture above because we were accidentally served a Brie cheese instead of the Gouda.  But more on that later.

For my main course, I always tend to gravitate towards fish at Lucca because it is fresh and prepared well.  This time, I went with the John Dory with green beans and potatoes (green beans were in place of spinach since I have a spinach allergy).

My parents ordered the same, and the three of us practically licked our plates clean.  The fish was cooked perfectly and the white wine sauce was delicious.

My grandparents and the Englishman decided to go with the pulled pork and Kobe beef sliders.  I tasted some of the pulled pork and it was so juicy and tender.  Definitely ordering this next time.

Of course, no meal is complete without some sweet potato fries, so we ordered a few of those to share with the table as well.  I must figure out how Lucca gets their fries so perfectly crispy.

After all that food, we were feeling full, but not too full to pass up some of Lucca’s signature desserts.

The first thing we ordered was Lucca’s Bread Pudding since it is one of the main things that always catches my eye whenever I dine at the restaurant.  In addition to the bread pudding we went with a Chocolate Orange Torte, Ice Cream Sundae and my mom’s surprise birthday treat.

The bread pudding was delicious and had macadamia nuts inside.  The consistency was a bit more cake like than other “traditional” bread puddings I have had in the past, but it was still quite good.

The Chocolate Orange Torte was good, but a bit too rich for my liking (the creme brulee put it over the top).  I did like the fresh oranges on the side with chocolate shavings though.

I only had a few bites of the Ice Cream Sundae and one of the flavors was pumpkin sorbet. Yes, Lucca, I do need more pumpkin sorbet in my life.

My favorite dessert of the evening was by far the Lemon Poppy-seed Cake that was brought out for my mom’s birthday.  This cake was so, so good.  My mom and I pretty much demolished the slice ourselves.

If there is one thing Lucca does right, it’s lemon desserts.  Dear Lucca, please make this cake for my birthday in August.  Thank you.

While all of our food was delicious, the low point of the evening was the service.  With the exception of Adam our waiter, the service was just not on par.  When the cheeseboard was ordered the wrong cheese (Brie) was brought out, and our side of salami to go with the cheeseboard didn’t arrive until after we had finished the board itself.  My mom’s birthday cake was brought out significantly later than the other desserts, so she was sitting around waiting while everyone else was digging into their after dinner treats.  Fortunately, Adam was very apologetic about the situation and even mentioned that his team was “not on the same page” that evening.  Hopefully Lucca can get their service straightened out because the food truly was delicious!

Service issues aside, I still consider Lucca to be one of my favorite restaurants in Orange County and I declare their Lemon Poppy-seed Cake to be one of the best around.  Until next time…