Friday, June 17, 2011

Cookie Monster and Elmo Treats for Evan

It was Mr. Evan Crisp's 2nd birthday last week and I was lucky enough to be in charge of his cakes for this birthday party last weekend. His mamma, my friend Amy, requested cake pops and cupcakes that looked like Elmo and Cookie Monster. I had never tried to make cake pops before so I had to do a few trial runs before I was comfortable committing. I can't say that I'm the next Bakerella (who inspired these cake pops) but they were recognizable to a 2 year old so I call that a win! Here are the goodies:

Cake Pop Supplies:
I used mercken candy melts and wilton candy dye (to make cookie bluer) for the coating. The face on cookie was a dark chocolate candy melt cut in slightly more than half, Nabisco Gripz cookies, and candy eyes. The face on elmo was a dark chocolate candy melt cut in half, tear drop candies for the nose, and candy eyes.

Cupcake supplies:
I used cream cheese icing with red gel food coloring pushed through a grass tip (#233). The face on elmo was a cut in half oreo cookie (only one side, no icing), grocery store jelly bean, and icing eyes with a mini chocolate chip iris. The icing on cookie was vanilla with blue gel food coloring pushed through a grass tip. The face on cookie was a cut in half chips ahoy cookie, and candy eyes.

Thanks to Amy and Evan for including me on this fun day!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Seattle/ Whidbey Island, WA

Nearly 3 weeks ago I made my first (of many) visit to Seattle and Whidbey Island, Washington to visit Christine, Ben, and Bernoulli. It was an ahhhhh-mazing trip, amazing scenery, perfect company, and lots to see, do, and eat! Warning: this is a mega post so I hope you have some time on your hands.

Our first post-plane stop was at Pike's Market in Seattle. According to Wikipedia, "Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, United States. The Market opened August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the United States." According to me it is a fun, albeit fishy, fresh market with too many food choices. If you are in need of fresh veggies/ fruit/ flowers/ seafood/ pasta/ etc- this is the place to head. This is also the location of the first Starbucks and the Piroshky store I told you about in a previous post.

Gum wall leaving the market:

We then picked up our cupcakes from The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company, saw the Space Needle (from afar) and headed towards Whidbey Island via the Mukilteo Ferry. There are ferries to get everywhere in Seattle!
Space Needle:

View from the ferry:

Us on the ferry:

I was happy to see all was well in the life of the Noodle when we arrived in Oak Harbor:

The next day we visited some Whidbey Island sights like Deception Pass Bridge. It kinda just appears out of nowhere and gives you some magnificent views. We stopped and hiked around for a bit with Bernoulli.
So many giant trees!

Man down:

Jumping onto the 'beach'


Succulents I found on the mini hike:


That's water under the bridge

Noodle and I on the bridge:

Kroll Family:

That evening Ben's parents arrived and we went to China City for happy hour. Basically we had tons of delicious apps (lettuce wraps were my fave!) and bevs on the cheap and reminisced about the Kroll wedding.

On Saturday we went on a whale watching adventure! We booked tickets with Mystic Sea Charters and headed out of Anacortes around 11am in search of whales! We were enjoying the views on the exceptionally clear day and settling into a series of games of Pitch when the boat captain announced that they were going to be polling the passengers to see if we wanted to go the safe route and see some minke whales nearby or go in search of a transient pod of orca whales that they had heard about up near Canada. We (and apparently the majority of the passengers) said why not take the chance, eh? And off we headed for Canadian waters. We were abundantly awarded for our gamble when we came across a pod of about 5 orca whales taking down 2 sea lions. Very cool to see. Lots of jumps and tail smacks etc. If you're in the pacific NW and have the time, you should definitely go whale watching!

After that amazing experience we decided to see some of the sites around Anacortes since we were already there.
Overlooking Anacortes:

The whole group:

The island in a lake on in island in a lake, got it?:

Teeners and I:

For dinner we headed to Toby's in Coupeville for some mussels and Toby's Red. The mussels were delish and since it was sooooo cold I had some soup which was also yummy, especially when eaten with garlic bread instead of a spoon. Coupeville had both a whale museum at the end of a pier and an awesome odds and ends store that were both closed that I must see on a return visit.

After dinner we raced to see the sunset and caught a glimpse of some pretty mountains:

Sunday brought a Yankees game (YAY) and goodbye to the Noodle (SAD). We had decided to stay in the city that night after the game so we could see some more of Seattle and to cut down on driving since my flight was Monday anyways. I miss Bernoulli already!:

And off to Seattle we go! Pyramid Alehouse was on the agenda for some pre-game nibbles and well, pre-gaming.

Time for the Yankees @Mariners game! Once inside, Papa Kroll insisted that everyone have these 'Rally Fries' which were basically fries doused in minced garlic, like seriously more garlic than you're even imagining. I had about 10 before they became unsettling- I prefer Old Bay any day! Christine and Ben both finished their little boats and paid for it all night. Apparently garlic isn't meant to be consumed in such a high volume, who knew?

After a quick nap and some more Pitch, we headed to El Gaucho on the recommendation of a friend of Ben's Dad. It was an exceptional steakhouse with a great ambiance. I had the best table-prepared ceasar salad, Alaskan Halibut, and malbec ever! The couples both opted for the chateaubriand to share. I think everyone was overly happy with their meals and we even got to see a mini celebrity- the closer/relief pitcher for the Mariners, Brandon League! Fun!

After dinner we were struggling (from garlic poisoning and overeating), but we still managed to make it out to a few bars, Bathtub Gin and Rob Roy to meet up with some of Ben's squadron guys. I had some really interestingly-flavored drinks at Rob Roy and would love to go back when I wasn't so full. The next morning we hit up Piroshkys again and headed for the airport. I want to say many many thanks to Christine and Ben for juggling so many visitors over Memorial Day and for showing us all an amazing time! Can't wait to go back!!!!

Chicken and Fingerling Potatoes with Black Truffle Salt

I've been intrigued by truffles for awhile now. A delicious fungus that grows beneath the earth commonly sniffed out by pigs, what's not to love? These delicacies are most often grown in Europe and have not really made the jump to the US yet. There are, however, some people working on cultivating truffles in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon. I've yet to get my hands on one of these lil nuggets, but imagine my excitement when I receive a sampler of Woody's Gourmet Black Truffle and Fresh Thyme Herb Sea Salt in my May Foodzie Tasting Box!!! My first instict was to hoard this amazing treat until the perfect recipe came along. I did this for about 3 weeks before I couldn't wait any longer. I referred to the included chicken and potatoes recipe and made some modifications to make it easier for me. I chocse chicken tenderloins instead of a roasting chicken and fingerling potatoes instead of 'German butterball potatoes'. I first cleaned and then microwaved the potatoes to decrease the cookign time in the oven (it's hot here in TX!). Then I rubbed the potatoes with the other sampler, Woody's Fresh Rosemary and Sage Herb Sea Salt. I spread the potatoes evenly on a baking sheet nad placed them in a 350F oven. I rubbed oil on the chicken and then the Woody's Black Truffle and Fresh Thyme Herb Sea Salt and some pepper. I cooked the chicken in a skillet with about a Tablespoon of fresh marjoram until it was opaque on the outside. I then transferred the chicken to the baking sheet with the potatoes and covered the sheet with aluminum foil. I continuted baking for about 10 minutes (until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender). I served them with some green beans and had the most amazing meal. I then promptly purchased a full size of both sea salts and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

I highly advise making an investment in any truffle (particularly black truffle) related yummies you cna get your hands on, inclugind this salt. Enjoy!