Room With A Rainforest View

As previously mentioned, our stay on the Big Island was split by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then packing up to head to the eastern side of the island to Hilo.  Actually we didn’t quite make it to Hilo, as we opted to spend the night closer to the volcano and stayed at the Volcano Inn, which is on Kilauea.

If you are expecting to see lava fields when staying at the Volcano Inn, then you’re going to be disappointed because it sits smack dab in the middle of a lush rainforest.  But we knew that going in and were excited by the completely dramatic shift from our Kona views.  All the colors were so vibrant–especially these red flowered plants–that they almost looked fake.  I totally kept touching them to make sure they were real!

Even more foreign was waking to the sounds of the rainforest.  We wandered down to breakfast, which included fresh banana bread and baked papaya with yogurt, bananas, and pineapple.  Since we were flying out to Kauai later that afternoon, we thought it was the perfect time to sample our fruit we purchased the day before from the South Kona Fruit Stand–and we didn’t want any of it confiscated at the airport!

After breakfast we went for a small hike into the rainforest, but were warned to stay on the path–which we did.  No one wanted to get lost because ain’t nobody got time for that: we had a helicopter tour and to find the Tsunami Clock of Doom before our flight to Kauai later that afternoon!

Soon it was time to pack up and depart from this perfect little hide-away spot, but adventure was calling!

trunk

PS–I would like to take this time to clarify a certain picture (above) floating around Facebook that was taken at the Volcano Inn.  Despite what the picture shows–we did NOT make April ride in the trunk of the car!  I assure you she made it safely back to Minnesota!

Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday: Tropical Itch

In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

When there is a drink on the menu called the Tropical Itch, how could you NOT order one?  I mean, I didn’t…but Christi did and really that’s more or less the same thing!

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I mean, c’mon–it comes with a back scratcher!  If you like fruity, tropical drinks how can you refuse something with a garnish that detailed?

In case you’re wanting to recreate a bit of Hawaii ambiance at home, here’s a recipe from Modern Tiki for a proper Tropical Itch.

Tropical Itch
1 oz bourbon (we used Four Roses)
1 oz 151 proof rum
1/2 oz orange curacao or triple sec
1/2 oz lemon juice
3 oz passion fruit puree*
2 oz water*
1 oz dark rum (we used Meyers)
1-2 dashes bitters
bamboo backscratcher, for garnish

HipaHipa!

Pizza Night!

Growing up, Friday night was always pizza night…because who doesn’t love pizza?!?  Plus nothing goes with football like pizza (hey, we’re Texans!  Also upon further reflection–aka growing older–I’ve found beer to be a better accompaniment to football, but at five years old pizza is probably the better option).

Of course, until I moved to New York City, I didn’t realize how serious pizza was.  I mean, sure, I’ve always loved it.  But here?  Here you’d better have an informed opinion about crusts and styles and toppings.   There used to be a great pizza place up the hill from my house, but they moved a couple of years after I moved here and the place became [shudder] a seasonal accountant office.

Anyway, the point is that my pizza options are now limited to Dominoes (don’t get me wrong–sometimes you just need the coolness of ordering your pizza online and watching the Pizza Tracker thingy…no, I haven’t been drinking…much…) and the Italian place up the street, who admittedly makes a mean calzone, but you have to be prepared to wait at least an hour.  At that point you could just make it yourself.

MAKE IT MYSELF?!?!?

I do need to give props to Ann for having the brilliant idea, finding a sauce, and picking up supplies at Whole Foods.

I’ve never really given much thought about making my own pizza because while the theory of making pizza dough from scratch always seems too tedious (despite assurances by April about its ease and the tastiness of her pizza).  However, enter in the age of fresh pre-made dough (not the pop open can variety)….and voilà! now homemade pizza seems a lot more reasonable.

Plus the world is your oyster when it comes to sauces and toppings.  Although I find that when you have more than 3 toppings, the pizza tends to get too heavy and thick.  Of course, if you’re a fan of Chicago-style pizza then top away! Personally, I’m not and prefer thin slices with crisp, crunchy crust (and for the record, I felt that way long before I moved a borough away from Brooklyn!).

Through trial and error, I’ve found that baking the pizza in stages ensures a crisp crust and that everything is cooked properly.  Also I like it really garlicky and spicy, if garlic or spice isn’t your thing you might just want to use 2 cloves and less pepper.

Asparagus, Avocado, & Onion Pizza

  • 1 ball of pizza dough (as I mentioned, I purchase mine–but here are a plethora of dough recipes I found on Pinterest if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • Sauce (mix together the following ingredients):
    • 1/4 c. of olive oil
    • 4 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 12-ish stalks of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil topped

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Lightly oil a baking stone/cookie sheet.  Slowly pull and stretch the pizza dough to the desired size and thickness.  Spread the sauce on top of the dough–I use a pastry brush to make sure that it is spread evenly.  Bake the dough for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the onions and asparagus and bake for 10 more minutes.

Once those 10 minutes are up, add the cheese and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

I know all the back and forth sounds a bit tedious, but trust me–it’s really not that bad and TOTALLY worth it.  After 5 minutes add the avocado slices and bake for 5 minutes more.  At this point, the cheese should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.  If not, continue baking until it is.  Once it reaches this point, pull it out of the oven and sprinkle with the basil.  Cut the pizza into slices and enjoy!

By the way, this pizza pairs really well with hefeweizen beer and fruity, dry white wines, like viogniers and dry rieslings–okay, fine and some not-too-buttery chardonnays.  Buon appetito!

Soup, Glorious Soup!

I love soup.  I know I’ve mentioned this before–like every January, but January seems to be a good time for soup.  At least in the Northern Hemisphere.  Of course, I’m one of those weird-can-eat-soup-any-day-of-the-year people so I don’t necessarily need cold weather to indulge, just a spoon.  This is very handy when one is experiencing an unseasonably warm “winter” in NYC and one loves soup so much.

The other day I had some amazing wonton soup from Ginger’s in Midtown (for anyone in, around or visiting NYC).  It was so delicious.  The broth was seasoned perfectly and adorned not only with wontons so fresh they were practically falling apart, but also spinach which added an extra layer of goodness.  The irony of it all, is that I rarely get wonton soup–I almost always get egg drop but on a whim I went with the wonton and here I am at 7:30am wondering what time Ginger’s opens and if I can work it into today’s schedule.  Now, if that doesn’t speak volumes as to how good this soup is, nothing but tasting it will!

It did remind me that it’s been awhile since I’ve posted about soup.  In looking back at some older posts, I realized that I owe you an up date on my Kaliflower Soup, which I am determined to get juuuuuust right and I think I may have finally solved the “too much” kale debacle (hint: baby kale!).  There is another soup from a health store on the Upper East Side that I’d also like to try my hand at: it’s a veggie soup with yellow lentils, so it has a creamy rather than brothy base that accompanies most veggie soups.  The result is an extra-hearty veggie soup that could easily be a meal all on its own!  I also promised April an actual Roasted Asparagus soup recipe other than Jaime’s vague instructions…

I guess I need to get cooking!

But before I go, I thought I’d leave you with some links to earlier soup posts, in case you’re in the mood to do a bit of cooking on your own and needed some inspiration (and before you argue, stew is a soup and who cares what you call it, it has Guinness so just try not to shovel it in too fast and burn your mouth!):

Bon appetito!

shiner soup

Thanksgiving Bowl

For those of you out there who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that you had a wonderful day filled with great food, family and/or friends, football, parades or however you like to celebrate.  I spent the day rotating between cooking and loafing and eating an extraordinary amount of cheese–it was a great way to spend a day!

Aside from the getting together with loved ones and cheese (and of course, wine–but isn’t that a given??), my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  Everything that is delicious seems to have even more flavor after sitting in the fridge (although I would say that is true of most things).  Thus when you bring them out again for a midnight snack, breakfast, or whenever strikes your fancy, the results are magical.

In that spirit, I present to you my Thanksgiving Bowl:

I know, I know there are some of you reading this now who are disappointed it has nothing to do with football, well…yesterday was a huge disappointment on the football field–so I’d rather just forget those games, thankyouverymuch!

But there isn’t anything disappointing about this bowl!  It has everything delicious about Thanksgiving.  For me, that would be mashed potatoes, turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce–well almost everything delicious except the pie.  I would recommend saving that for dessert…or even better: an appetizer!  😉

So tell me, what’s in your Thanksgiving Bowl?

Put A Stick In It!

Pretty much since the arrival of Lucille and the discovery that–with the right accessories–she could make ice cream, I have wanted an ice cream maker.  Not necessarily that ice cream maker (I’m open to seeing other ice cream makers), but I do love making ice cream…in part because I love eating ice cream, especially homemade ice cream, and in larger part because it brings back great memories of sitting on Grandpa & Granny’s porch watching Grandpa crank the ice cream maker, waiting eagerly for him to sneak us a spoonful before Granny would put it in the freezer.  I also have heard that right now Aldi in the Twin Cities has a great deal on a 2qt ice cream maker…you know, just in case you live, work, or are traveling through the Twin Cities and decide that your Minnesota souvenir of choice can also be an integral part of your kitchen.

But this isn’t a post about ice cream.  This is a post about a well-loved cousin to ice cream: the popsicle.  A more portable version, easier to make, already-portioned-out-so-you-don’t-eat-the-entire-2quarts-in-one-sitting summer staple.  What started this mild obsession?  Well, awhile back, I saw this recipe for Orange Creamsicle Yogurt Pops from Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food and realized that not only did I have all the ingredients on hand, but that this might be the answer for my yearning for an ice cream maker.  I accepted this as fate–and the sign of a genius plan!–when the other day I was out and about and found a popsicle mold for only $4.  Done and done!

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While waiting for them to freeze, I did what anyone would do: I got on Pinterest to look for more recipes.  Actually, I also blame the Fudge Bars from Whole Foods temporarily residing in my freezer because, well, it would also be AWESOME to have fudge bars without going to the store!

So when you type ‘popsicle’ (why limit yourself to just fudge?) into the search box of Pinterest you get about 3 days worth of pins. I found a wide variety of recipes for fudge popsicles (hellllllooooo, Nutella pops!), complicated fancy ones that look pretty and sound amazing, but fall into the Too Hard Basket (such as blackberry ombre popsicles or coconut/salted caramel/chocolate with almonds–but if you decide to make these, personally I think it should be pistachios), über-easy/healthy ones (aka put fruit in a mold and fill with coconut water), and my new favorite: the adult beverage ones.  WHAT THE WHAT?  This is just further proof this really was a genius plan!

It started with this Peaches & Cream recipe from Tutti Dolce (who seems to be a connoisseur of popsicles, as several of my popsicle pins are from Laura!). I clicked on this one because it’s summer and I almost always have peaches on hand.  In reading through the recipe, this caught my eye:

1 1/2 Tbsp crème de pêche (peach liqueur)

Liqueur?  Oh yes, please, and thankyouverymuch!

So then (and this is how Pinterest sucks you in), I start actively searching for adult popsicle recipes and realize that there are a lot of lushes kindred spirits (pun intended!) out there!  Sangria, Bourbon, Tequila, Prosecco…I’m quite certain you’d be hard pressed to find something without [insert your favorite adult beverage here].

I then did what any pinner would do: I created a board.  Not just for the adult popsicles, although I do appreciate your faith in me that I would could do that.  I even included a few of the Too Hard Basket ones, mainly because they are pretty and maybe complicated popsicles are your thing.  I mean, I don’t judge.  Who knows…perhaps–if given the appropriate amount of champers–I might be prompted to try one of them….until giving up in a huff and just sitting on the couch, drowning my sorrows in another bottle of champers while waiting for the easy adult popsicles to freeze.  What?  It’s the most likely scenario.

But back to popsicles….inquiring minds want to know: what’s your favorite?


 
Happy summering!

PS–if you’re interested, here’s my Put A Stick In It Pinterest Board.  If you already follow me on Pinterest, you’re welcome for the plethora of popsicle recipes in your feed 😉 And, of course, I’m always looking for more great recipes if you wanna share your favorite popsicle recipe!

Peachy Keen!

I love scones.  Probably the best scone that I’ve ever eaten was a bacon, cheddar, & chive scone.  I mean, c’mon–it is bacon and cheese!  But that’s not why we’re here today.

Peaches.  Peaches are why we’re here today.  We are (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) smack dab in the middle of peach season!  To me, peaches are–along with watermelon–are the very embodiment of summer.  So when I found the recipe below on Pinterest, I just knew I had to try it immediately.

They were, in a word, scrumptious.  As per usual in my house, I substituted plain greek yogurt for sour cream and used half & half instead of heavy cream.

Oh and in case peaches aren’t your thing (Sissy, I’m talking to you!), I’ve also tried them with cherries instead and they are equally amazing.

I only ask you do yourself a favor: just make a double batch!

A huge THANKS! to Michelle at A Latte Food for sharing this wonderful recipe!

bon appétit!

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Peach Scones with Vanilla Glaze

Peach Pie Scones with a Vanilla Glaze
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 Scones
Ingredients
Scones
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh peaches, diced
Vanilla Glaze
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
Scones
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Once combined, cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Whisk together heavy cream, sour cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.
  • Stir in the peaches, and mix until just combined.
  • On a well-floured surface, turn out the scone dough and pat into a small disk that’s about a 1/2″ thick. Cut into 6-8 slices, and transfer to the baking sheet. Brush each scone with just a bit of heavy cream.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes, or just until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Glaze

  • Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 1 Tbsp of heavy cream. If the glaze is too thick, continue adding in heavy cream, one 1 Tbsp at a time, until it has reached the desired consistency. Pour over warm scones and enjoy!

http://www.alattefood.com/peach-pie-scones-with-a-vanilla-glaze/