Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Sunshine State – Day One

Yikes, I’m behind. As I prepare for and get excited about my road trip to Arizona this weekend, Annie reminded me that I haven’t told anyone about my Florida trip! I’ve told a few people on the phone and lots of my California friends and I wrote a detailed account of the trip in my journal. But now it’s time to blog.

Sometime last year, my cousin, Jeremy, announced his upcoming wedding in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on March 12, 2011. I decided at that moment that I was going. Not only because I love Jeremy and Lauren and want to support them but because I’ve never been to Florida! (Let’s be serious, if they got married somewhere lame like Nebraska, I probably wouldn’t have gone. I love him but not that much!) My California aunt, Tami, planned to go with me (without husband and kids).

We took the red-eye from Los Angeles (thanks, Wendy, for taking us to the airport!) to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday night. I usually pride myself on being able to sleep anywhere, anytime, but this time I unpleasantly surprised myself. After a 4 1/2 hour flight, we landed in Fort Lauderdale at 5:55am local time (we lost 3 hours with the time difference). We walked outside where it was warm and kind of humid. We were shuttled to Sunshine Car Rental where we picked up our tiny little Toyota Yaris. We headed straight to the beach! I navigated the whole trip while Tami drove (scary for those of you who know my tendency to get lost even with a map and my iPhone!). At that time of day, the beach was pretty quiet and quite beautiful. There were tons of walkers on the boardwalk but the beach was empty. I took a few pictures and couldn’t resist stepping in the water. The huge difference between the beach in Southern California and the beach in Florida is the water temperature and waves. The water wasn’t exactly warm in Florida but much warmer than California! And they have very few waves, which was a big difference that I wasn’t expecting.

As a result of our nearly sleepless night, we were exhausted and knew we had a long day ahead of us. We couldn’t check into our hotel until 3:00pm so we found a parking lot and took a nap! We didn’t sleep long before we got hot and uncomfortable but every little bit helps. We ate breakfast at The Deck, which is a cool beachfront restaurant. After breakfast, we headed to Coral Springs for our manis and pedis with the girls. On our way to the salon, we ran into a big storm with lots of wind and buckets of rain. The sky was crazy! We made it safely and then got to enjoy a few relaxing hours getting pampered with Lauren (bride), Elizabeth (her sister), Linda (her mom), Megan (Jeremy’s sister), Lynda (Jeremy’s mom), and Amy (Brandon’s fiance).

Tami and I checked into our hotel, Holiday Inn Express, and did a quick shower and get ready, then headed out again. We did a little shopping (Tami didn’t bring a swimsuit but I insisted that she needed one!). Next up was the rehearsal dinner at Bimini Bar & Grill. Beautiful place with a nautical theme. Family, friends, & fun.

We went to bed early that night after a long, fun-filled day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011 New Recipe #5

Green Velvet Cupcakes

We had a St. Patty's Day party at my house last weekend. I made green velvet cupcakes. They were delicious. Once again, I got my recipe from Melissa's blog, Designer Bakery. (Red Velvet Cupcakes recipe with green food coloring instead of red. Genius, I know.)

Green Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 TBSP (1 oz.) green food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Cake Man Raven, adapted from Annies Eats, and The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Naco made a blarney stone. Steph is a real trooper and kissed it the way everyone should have. Steph also won the best dressed contest. Don't worry that there wasn't actually a contest and she was the only one who really dressed up. She's cool like that. (Bad picture but you get the idea.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 New Recipe #4

Tuesday night Naco, Wendy, and I took Lisa to dinner for her bday. Lisa is Bishop Jarvie's wife. We love them both. (If you haven't noticed by now, our bishopric/ward rocks.) In fact, Bishop went with us, too. And he paid, despite our attempts otherwise! They had never been to Great Mex and it's one of our favorite places so we took them there. Love love love that place. After dinner we went back to the Jarvie's house for cake and ice cream. Fun night.

I'm not a fan of this picture but wanted to show the cake with the candles! :)

But now for the story of the cake:

Tuesday afternoon I asked Bishop what Lisa's favorite cake/dessert was and he said he didn't know of a favorite but that chocolate was always safe. I wanted to try a new recipe so I did a quick search and found this "hot" chocolate cake recipe. I noticed in the description that it was reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate and was intrigued.
The first time I tasted Mexican hot chocolate was when I moved to California. I had never heard of Mexican hot chocolate and didn't know that's what I was drinking. I took a few sips and was surprised at the taste. Honestly, I thought someone had spiked the hot chocolate or something! Come to find out, it was Mexican hot chocolate and it's supposed to taste like that (whew). The recipe calls for cayenne pepper and cinnamon. I ran it past Wendy, Annie, and Ashley for their opinions. Wendy said go for it but later told me she was a little leery of the cayenne pepper. Annie suggested other recipes and Ashley had never heard of Mexican hot chocolate and thought the cake sounded weird. I decided to go for it anyway.

Making the cake was fun and new. I'm pretty sure that was my first time to use baking squares in a recipe. Also my first time to butter (rather than use Crisco or cooking spray) the cake pan and dust it with cocoa powder. I've used parchment paper with baking a few times and I'm a fan. So much better than risking the cake sticking and falling apart! My oven cooks fast so I took the cake out after 25 minutes instead of 30-40 minutes per the recipe. I drizzled the glaze on the cake with a spoon and it worked well. I was happy with the presentation (although maybe a few berries and sprig of something green would look nice?), especially with the tall pink candles on top (courtesy of Naco). BUT the cake was really dry. The edges were too done so I should have baked it for even less time than I did. Even then, though, I think
the cake would be dry. Basically the only liquid was eggs! Maybe it needs a little milk or something, I don't know. Luckily we had ice cream so it wasn't as bad. The taste was fine but nothing special. I didn't taste the cayenne or cinnamon at all, which I was bummed about. Overall, cake failure. I give it 2 stars.

Naco, Wendy, and I laughed about the cake on the way home. We decided that the cake would have been a lot better if we had soaked it in milk. Maybe next time. I am interested in trying another "hot" chocolate cake. Maybe I'll have to search for another recipe. This time I'll be sure to read the reviews and speculate a little more...and have milk on hand in case I need to use the "soak it in milk" method.

"Hot" Chocolate Cake

From Country Living

Subtly spiced with cinnamon and cayenne pepper, this decadent chocolate cake is reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.

  • 1/4 cup(s) (plus 1 tablespoon) cocoa
  • 1 cup(s) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounce(s) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup(s) (plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup(s) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  1. Make cake batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust the pan with 1 tablespoon cocoa. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cayenne and set aside. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt 6 ounces chocolate and butter. Set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer set on medium high, beat eggs and sugars until mixture thickens and increases in volume, about 5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla, and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Make glaze: Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack, remove parchment paper, and cool completely. Transfer cake to a serving dish. Melt remaining bittersweet chocolate and drizzle over top of cake.