Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And she bakes!!!

People I know who don't teach are always getting on my case about how much time we have off in the summer.  My response is typically, "It's not as great as you might think."  Even though this isn't actually 100% true (because, yes, it IS great!), I would have to say that overall, it does get awfully boring at times.  For the most part, I am bored. I find ways to fill my time.  I DON'T have tons of things to do during the way and I definitely don't have enough hobbies to occupy the extra time.  I'm not sure if this is something I should be sorry for, feel bad about, or if this makes me a loser, but for now I will settle for just having that much more time to be extremely lazy.

In the meantime, I have decided that this extra time has made me able to try baking.  For my birthday this year, my mother-in-law gave me the cutest cupcake holder and cupcake recipe pack.  The holder holds 2 dozen cupcakes and the recipe pack has about 12-15 different recipes in it.  I had looked through them upon receipt of them, but the other day I looked at them and decided I would actually try one of them!....and today I did!

I tried the Luscious Lemonade cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  And I am pleased to say they turned out amazing.
The cupcakes themselves were super simple to make.  But the frosting was quite an ordeal.  I was just pleased with myself that I was able to pull off a semi-complicated recipe.  I have NEVER been a baker and typically I am disappointed with anything that I try to bake, but this particular recipe I was pleased with.  It was enough of a success that makes me want to try another recipe again very soon.  There are so many flavors to choose from though...it's just a matter of which one?????

Luscious Lemonade Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon
4 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a big mixing bowl, add the sugar, lemon zest, and butter (room temperature).  Cream three minutes or until light and almost fluffy.  Add the extracts, eggs, and buttermilk, and stir until combined.  Add the flour mixture slowly, scraping the sides of the bowl, until thoroughly mixed.  Divide evenly in muffin tin, and bake 18-22 minutes.  Makes 12.

Buttercream Frosting:
In a large metal mixing bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Heat a saucepan of 1 inch of water until simmering.  Hold mixing bowl over water and continue to whisk until mixture becomes similar to the texture of a custard.  Remove from heat and beat with mixer for 5 minutes.  Then add 2 cups of butter (1 tablespoon at a time, which is 2 sticks) until combined.  Continue to beat until mixture thickens and becomes smooth and satiny. If for some reason frosting will not set, place in the freezer for 5 minutes.  It will NOT be the texture of a cake frosting.  It will be very smooth and buttery.  Delicious!!!

I used the Pampered Chef decorating "gun" to frost my cupcakes, so it looked really pretty but either way you could use a spoon or spatula to frost them.  They turned out amazing.  Can't wait to try another flavor!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seafood, Pineapple Wine, and a New Menu!

Hello all....I'm quite sure very few, if anyone, has noticed my lack of blogging lately but for those possible FEW who have noticed....I have returned!

Shane and I got back from our honeymoon early yesterday morning.  For those who do not know, we went to Maui and it was absolutely spectacular, to say the least.  I saw some of the most beautiful scenery of my life, swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever, and of course, ate some of the most delicious seafood I have EVER had.  If you ever get the chance to visit Hawaii, specifically the island of Maui, I would HIGHLY encourage you to go to Mama's Fish House in the little town of Paia, which is close to the airport in Kahului.  Yes, you will probably spend more money than you ever thought possible.  Yes, you will probably sweat a little when you get your bill.  But I guarantee you will have an immediate thought of, "It was TOTALLY worth it," when you leave.  The menu changes daily because the items are caught THAT morning.  Yes, it is THAT fresh.

For an appetizer, we got the Macadamia Nut Crusted Crab Cakes.  They were TO die for.

For our entrees, I got the Bouillabaisse, which the menu describes as Mahimahi, lobster, shrimp, scallop and shellfish simmered in a saffron broth, with garlic rouille.  (the garlic rouille was like a bright yellow butter that I stirred into the broth to thicken and flavor it--delicious!)  It was SO filling and the little octopus in it kind of freaked me out, but I'm glad I got it.  It was definitely an "adventurous" meal.  

Shane got Ono, which is a Hawaiian fish, also known as Wahoo.  (I didn't know this until recently, but maybe I'm the only one who didn't know!)  It was sauteed in a lemon-butter caper sauce and the fish seriously melted in your mouth.  
For dessert, we got the Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp, which was served with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream.....seems pretty self-explanatory and needless to say, it was outstanding.

So that was our over-the-top meal we had in Maui, but it was also probably one of the best meals I have ever had in my life--at least that stands out in my mind!  

The next excellent tasting experience we had in Hawaii was our discovery of pineapple wine.  Unfortunately we did not have the time or money to try all the different types that the store had to offer, but we did, fortunately, select one particular bottle that we absolutely loved.  In fact, we loved it so much we brought home 6 bottles (to share, of course...except for 2 we are keeping for ourselves).  Anyway, if you enjoy a dry chardonnay or a sauvignon blanc (which is a very dry white wine, for those who don't know wine) you would LOVE Maui Blanc.  It isn't overly sweet at all (hence the dry factor) but it has a definite pineapple taste to it.  I don't enjoy sweet wine at all (except for maybe once in a while by the pool or if it is a homemade sangria) so this wine was perfect for me.  It offered just enough sweet to get the pineapple taste, but not too much where you feel like you're drinking straight pineapple juice.  
This is the only picture of the bottle that I have.  (The beer pictured with it is Primo beer, which is actually now brewed in California, but it was originally based in Honolulu and you can't find it anywhere around here.  It's very cheap and is pretty similar to any domestic lager.)

My recommendation is to absolutely make all efforts to visit the island of Maui and experience the fantastic food, the beautiful beaches, and save your money so you can eat at Mama's Fish House, as well as the other fantastic restaurants that are all over the island.  Hawaii isn't cheap for sure, but we found that the average restaurants were no more expensive than any other "vacation town".  Its vacation!  Live a little!  

Moving onto the actual intended subject for this blog as a whole......back to cooking!  I haven't cooked in quite awhile for the obvious reason that we've been gone, but the week prior to us leaving, I was pretty much an invalid and didn't do much of anything.  I had a muscle spasm in my left arm/shoulder and it was so painful that all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and put heat/ice on it.  Anyway, thankfully that is all gone and 100% better so back to the kitchen I go!

This week/next week's recipes are all from Pinterest, except for one pork chop recipe that is from allrecipes.com.  I chose a few of them based on the fact that many of them have common ingredients.  

Tonight I'm doing the pork chops and green beans!  Hoping to please the husband since he had his first day back at work today. :)