Author Archives: California Girl Today

About California Girl Today

For a while, I have been thinking about starting a blog. I love to make jewelry, cook, paint, draw, bake, and do just about anything that's crafty. I get inspired by cookbooks, jewelry at department stores, beautiful landscapes, flowers... the list goes on and on. I studied civil engineering at San Diego State University. I know what your thinking... NERD! I thought that engineering might feed my creativity... by designing roads and water channels. As much as engineering is fascinating to me -- those things are not charming or colorful. So to really express my creativity, I decided to start this blog. I want to share with everyone my passion for all things beautiful and all things California.

The GoPro Channel & Bucket Lists



A view from 10,000 ft? I’m flying up to Boston on Virgin America. First time flying with them. I’ve been trying to rack up my points on American Airlines, but ticket prices have sky rocketed. In my quest to find entertainment (I usually download my favorite series to my iPad but didn’t get a chance this time around), I came across the GoPro Channel featured inflight. The good tunes and action packed adventure have me wanting to do the following:

A. Go to Hawaii
B. Learn how to surf
C. Watch more amazing sunsets
D. Mountain bike
E. Off road
F. Plan my snowboarding trips for the next season
G. Pray for snow
H. Buy a GoPro camera
I. Film my random excursions

Not that I’m dare devil enough to capture anything too exciting. But maybe it’s time to stop living life in the safe zone and start testing the limits. Be a Hero. Time to start a bucket list. YOLO.


Just landed, and it’s time for my Boston adventures. What’s on your bucket list?

Spaghetti Squash Pasta – A Spring in My Step


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“Shannan, I’ve noticed a spring in your step recently, like in the last two months” says a coworker. Crazytown! Four people have noticed this now. Whhhhaaaaaat?!?? A year to settle into a new position at work. Years to realize that something maybe wasn’t meant to be. Then you start focusing on yourself. And it all clicks. And there is a spring in your step.

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim. — Tyler Knott Gregson

Spaghetti Squash Pasta – It always puts a little spring in my step! It’s a quick and easy meal. Few ingredients needed. After a long day at work, dinner’s ready in 40. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A spaghetti squash
  • Your favorite pasta sauce (I like the Classico – Garlic)
  • Turkey or Ground Beef (I prefer to use the Jenny-O Italian Seasoned — it adds a little more flavor)
  • Parmesan Cheese (or Sharp Cheddar if you have no parm)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place the squash cut-side down onto a baking sheet. Fill the sheet with about a quarter-inch of water. Bake for 35-40 minutes. While the squash is cooking, brown the meat. Once themeat is cooked, add the sauce to warm. Shred your spaghetti squash into noodles with a fork. Top with the pasta sauce. Serves 4. Wham bam, thank you Ma’am.

Everything works out the way it’s supposed to be. Right? That’s what I think anyways.

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos



Time for a Detox!! And a fresh start! The last two weeks have been crazy fun – Lake Mojave, Vegas, worked a few days, then back to Lake Mojave. And the food!!! French toast, chocolate chip cookies (of course), margaritas, beer, BBQ, in-n-out burgers, nacho cheese doritos… I have not eaten this bad since I can remember. It’s time to get back on track!

After a Pilates session today, I hightailed it to Whole Foods for an Oz Green, fresh-pressed juice and some groceries. Normally, I would press my own, but my mom stole my juicer. Actually, I gave it to her when I moved back home from college. I’m not ready to buy another one, there isn’t enough real estate on my counter top to house another appliance. Fresh juices from the market will have to do for now. A cart full of fruits and veggies later, I’m ready for a fresh start!

For dinner tonight, I’m making a healthier alternative to one of my favorite foods — Nachos. These are loaded sweet potato nachos. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. Here’s what you will need:

  • Sweet potato(es)
  • Olive Oil or Coconut Oil Spray
  • Shredded chicken
  • Salsa
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Jalapeños

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the sweet potato in thin slices or with a mandolin (watch your fingers). Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray. Line the sliced sweet potatoes on the foil. Spray the tops of the slices with more cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 8 minutes, flipping half-way through. Cooking times may vary.

After you have baked a few batches of the chips, pile them together and sprinkle the shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top. Broil for 2-4 minutes. Keep an eye out or they will burn. Then add the chicken, salsa, avocado, and any other toppings to your liking. Don’t broil the nachos with the chicken — it will dry the chicken out.

Okay, okay, I know cheese isn’t the best food for a detox… but come on… live a little. Usually, I would pair this with my special margarita recipe, but I will have to share that another time. Kombucha and coconut water are my mainstays, for now.



Chocolate Chip Cookies – The Change Cure



Change is in the air! And I’m craving chocolate chip cookies. The past year has been a crazy one – it’s a quarter century crisis – I’m 25! Promotion, move, breakup, independence… more time on my hands to blog. Right on! I’m back again! It’s only been over a year since I’ve posted, and prior to that I can’t even tell you when I was here.

This is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. I’m a chocolate chip cookie expert. I’ve tried all the recipes… that one from the New York Times… all those listed on the back of the chocolate chip packages… cookbooks. This one rocks. No questions asked. Just make them.

Excuse me while I take my tennis shoe from my dog who is hitting me upside the leg with it. I already walked you!

The Change Cure – These cookies are my favorite, and I have not craved them in such a long time. Life throws you obstacles and challenges that can make you lose your sense of self and your desire for your favorite things. And then time passes and you say to yourself, “What?! Everything is great! Let me make some f@^king chocolate chip cookies!!!” But really, what I have learned in the past few months is… reconnecting with friends and family is the best cure. My friends and family know the true me and have always brought out the best in me. Thanks ya’ll! To celebrate the cure to my quarter century crisis, let’s bake.

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, roasted
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, roasted
  • 1 cup unsalted buter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another minute. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt — mix until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Drop cookies using a cookie/ice cream scoop. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Smoosh a scoop of ice-cream between two cookies for an ice-cream sandwich that is the bomb!

Dip ice cream sides in sprinkles for added pleasure.



Breakfast To Go and Work Lunches


ImageI know… I know… it’s been such a long time since I have blogged. I’m trying to stick to the promise I made to myself to blog every weekend. 

Today, I prepared my breakfasts and lunches for the week. I only prepared four meals, because I plan to eat out one day. I typically work from home, but every now and then I have to go into the office for a week or two. I commute 60 miles to the office, so I like to prepare my meals ahead of time to maximize my time at home (i.e. to sleep in longer). I eat my breakfast in my car, so it has to be something easy and mess-free. Today I prepared these Cinnamon Apple Muffins (gluten free!!!). I will make myself a latte in the morning, grab a banana and a muffin, and hit the road. Image

For lunch this week, I will have a Mason Jar Salad and a Pumpkin Chia Muffin. I saw salads in mason jars on Pinterest and thought I would give this a try. Each jar is the same… so I hope I don’t get sick of this salad by Thursday. The hard boiled egg will be added later. 




When that 3:00pm slump hits, I plan to fuel up with two gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies and a cup of coffee. 



The recipe for the Pumpkin Chia Muffins are available at Let the muffins rest over night before you eat them, so the flavors can infuse together. 

The recipe for the Chocolate Chip Cookies are available at I used half a cup of grapeseed oil in lieu of the butter. 

These recipes are all gluten free. Enjoy!


Sticky Toffee Pudding


Sticky toffee pudding is a British desert that appears to be popular among the royals. I found this recipe in People magazine. There was an article featuring Pippa Middleton and her new book called Celebrate. According to Miss Pippa Middleton, sticky toffee pudding is perfect for anyone with an irrepressible sweet tooth — Well then, that certainly sounds like me! I’ve never made this desert before, but I’ve always wanted to try. This weekend I decided to give the recipe a go. When I hear “sticky toffee pudding”, I think of American pudding… you know like custard. This desert is more light a sponge-y spice cake laden with a rich toffee drizzle. Don’t let the dates discourage you, because this pudding is delicious! It’s perfect for the fall season. The cinnamon and pumpkin spice aromas will fill your home and make it smell warm and welcoming. It’s perfect  to make on a nice, cool fall day. Enjoy this will a drizzle of heavy cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – whatever you prefer.


This recipe is reader tested and Shannan Rose Approved! This recipe is also boyfriend approved – to my pleasant surprise!


Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Stir together these ingredients to a bowl and let them sit…

  • 3 ½ oz. chopped dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups of water

Wisk together in a separate bowl…

  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Then cream together in another bowl…

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

Then beat into the creamed mixture…

  • 1 egg

Alternating, add 1/3 of the dry mixture and 1/3 of the date mixture until everything is combined. Bake in a greased dish for 40 minutes.

For the sauce, in a pan over medium low heat, stir together for eight minutes until thick…

  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar

Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Chop the dates into fine pieces, and be sure to remove the pits.

Helpful Tip: Butter your dish with the butter wrapper. It’s a time saver and less of a mess.

Serve a slice of the sponge-y cake with a nice pour of sauce and a drizzle of heavy cream. FYI – I altered the recipe for the sauce. I was having trouble gaining a thick consistency, so I added more brown sugar. I hope you enjoy!

Mississipi Madness


So… I realize that it has been an extremely long time since I have written a post. It’s been almost 10 months, and I cannot believe how fast time has flown by! I started a new job back in January, and I’ve been so busy that blogging fell to the wayside. I miss the creativity and colorfulness that baking and crafting can bring to my life. As you know being an engineer can be a little dull… staring at equations, construction, and buildings all day. It’s time to bring the colorfulness and vibrance back into my life. I’ve been baking a little bit here and there… But today I have vowed to get back into the swing of things, and I’ve promised to myself that I’m going to blog something new each week. I’ve found that blogging is a creative release for me, and something that I have truely missed. I’m glad to be back.

Today I baked a little something called Mississippi Madness. My boyfriend’s mom was browsing the latest Southern Living and shared the recipe with me. I about drooled and decided that I would try to the recipe out over the weekend. And here it is… with such beauty and all its glory…

I like to call it Mississipie. It’s heavenly. It’s a graham cracker crust with a brownie center. The top is adorned with broiled marshmallows, pecans, and a caramel drizzle. The recipe calls for a chocolate frosting, but I thought caramel was a better pair for this creation. It meshes so well with the chocolate and marshmallow. This recipe has reader tested and Shannan Rose approved. I have included a link to the recipe, also known as Mississipe Mud S’Mores-Fudge Pie (what a mouthful). I like my nickname for it… Mississipie… It’s so much easier. I hope you give this a try. This goes best with a glass of milk, so be sure to have some on tap. Enjoy!

Much Love,


Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows


I love the holiday season! And the gift wrapping, baking, and treats! I recently came across an idea to make chocolate dipped marshmallows.  Hot chocolate is my favorite winter treat and I thought these would be a delicious addition to the hot brew.  From the grocery store, I picked up a bag of marshmallows, a box of candy canes, and a bar of melting chocolate.  

I melted down the chocolate in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes at 50 percent power.  I crushed 4 of the candy canes and used a piece of wax paper as my work surface.

Dip the tops of the marshmallow into the chocolate.

And sprinkle with the crushed candy cane.

So yummy, I couldn’t resist eating one… and two. Let the chocolate set for about an hour.

Place them in a mason jar with a bow to keep them from getting stale.  Include a jar of hot chocolate mix and you have a lovely gift for someone.  These were such a delicious addition to my evening hot chocolate! I’m sure they will be gone in a flash.

Happy Thanksgiving



This is my all time favorite apple pie recipe. I make it every year and it’s a big hit. The recipe is available at

I make twice the amount of streusel for the top. And I cover the crust for the last 30 minutes. 20111123-181545.jpg I love this table setting. The turkeys are from pottery barn. Happy Thanksgiving!

My Attempt to Make Candy Turkeys


My furniture project is coming along… It needs one or two more coats of paint before I unveil it.  I found this awesome idea to make little turkeys out of candy on They looked so cute — I had to try to make them myself.  I went to the store today and bought candy corn, Double Stuff Oreos, mint cups (you can use peanut butter cups as well), malt balls (Whoppers), chocolate icing, red icing and white icing.  I didn’t have the image of the inspirational turkey in front of me while I was making these, so you can see they turned out a little different.

Here is the original…


My little guy looks a bit sloppy and the buttercup is positioned incorrectly, but I had fun making them.  And I will enjoy sharing them with family and friends.

I used the chocolate icing to help put the candy corn into the Oreo.  Don’t press too hard or the Oreo will break.  I then assembled the another Oreo with the buttercup and Whopper head.  Once both were dry, I assembled the two Oreos together.

 I decided to cut a tiny bit of the bottom of the feather Oreo to add stability when I glued them together — it may have been easier to do this before I placed on the candy corn. Once these were all dry, I drew on the eyes and placed a nose with the white piece of the candy corn.  I must admit that I enjoyed eating extra bits of cookie and candy as I was assembling them.  Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m making apple pies tomorrow — I will post the outcome.