Tag Archives: food

Taste Bud Worthy Recipe: Red Velvet Strawberry Coconut Trifle Cake

I look forward to the holidays for only one thing: food!

I have been making this Red Velvet Trifle cake for my holiday get-togethers for a few years now and it is always a hit. I got the recipe from this website and tweaked it a little bit. Follow the recipe, but just the cake part.

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 oz red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

You will also need:

  • 1 large bag of shaved coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2 containers of fresh cut strawberries (or one 1 lb. bag of frozen strawberries work fine, just thaw them the night before)
  •  1 16 oz container of whipped cream
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º.

Prepare three 8″ round cake pans with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat eggs, butter and sugar until creamy. Add cocoa and food coloring. Mix until well combined.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine soda and vinegar and add to batter. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tests done. Allow cakes to cool completely.

Toast the shaved coconut in the oven on a baking sheet until it is light brown. It’s okay if not all the pieces are toasted. Let that cool completely.

Preparing the cake

Cut the cake into one inch squares and layer it in a trifle bowl starting with the cake, then the whipped cream, strawberries, and toasted coconut, and repeat. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Side note: the supermarket ran out of red food coloring so I used green food coloring instead. It looks great with the red strawberries. I call it the “The Grinch Velvet Cake”.

If you decide to try out this recipe, let me know how your cake came out. Happy holidays!

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Italy: Part 1 – Milan

For someone who loves to travel and travels often, I had the biggest fear of flying overseas. There was just something about flying over water for an extended period of time that scared the shit out of me.  A couple months ago, I decided to suck it up and bought tickets to Italy with my best friend. It was an eight hour flight, non-stop, on Emirates Airlines. The seats were bigger, there was more leg room, and the food was pretty good. There was a bigger and better selection of entertainment, compared to domestic flights, to keep me busy. It was not as bad as I imagined it to be and totally got over my fear. Hello, world!

My friend and I only had four days in Italy, but we made the most of our time there. The food was incredible and the Italians were so sweet to us. Everyone spoke English, so it was easy to navigate around. There were so many well dressed men and women! I mean – it makes sense – Milan is the fashion capital.

Climbing the steps of the Duomo di Milano was probably one of the highlights of Milan. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant on the top floor of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II overlooking the Duomo. The Galleria is one of the oldest malls in the world. And, of course we had to try real Italian pasta and gelato.

Nobu is a well known Japanese restaurant with locations all around the U.S. and the world. My friend and I thought we’d be bougie and take it up a notch by eating at the Nobu in Milan. It’s located within the Emporio Armani Store. We chose the prix fixe menu; the sea bass sashimi was my favorite.

Before leaving to Rome, we had to try authentic Milanese food. I found this small mom and pop restaurant down an alley near the Expo. My friend ordered Milanese risotto with saffron and I ordered the grilled sea bass. The risotto was such a comfort food dish. The sea bass was so light and refreshing. It was such a simple recipe – just olive oil, lemon and herbs.

 

Stay tuned for Italy: Part 2 – Rome!

Taste Bud Worthy Recipe: Truffle Pasta

I still remember the moment I tried truffle for the first time. In the summer of 2011, I took a trip to New York City with some friends and we stumbled upon the restaurant, Delicatessen. I ordered a burger and truffle fries and I never looked back. Fries are not fries unless they are truffle fries! I’ve been obsessed with truffle ever since.

While I was in Rome with my friend, we stopped by a gourmet grocery store and I stocked up on as much Italian pasta my shopping basket would allow. In the corner of my eye, I spotted the shelf of black and white truffle in all forms possible. I knew I was in heaven. I had to fight the urge to max out my credit card with bottles and bottles of truffle oil.

Truffle is a fungi and the most expensive kind is found in Italy. It has a nutty flavor which makes sense since these mushrooms can be found where certain trees, like hazelnut, grow. The shopkeeper informed me that at the moment, a kilo (about the 2.2 lbs.) of white truffle goes for about €4,000 which is $4,500 US. I’m thinking I should get in to the truffle business! It is the most expensive food in the world because it is hard to find and it grows sporatically. Truffle hunters use special pigs and dogs to sniff out the mushrooms.

As soon as I got home from Italy, I couldn’t wait to use my truffle oil. I found this delicious, simple recipe: Pasta with Poached Eggs and Truffle Oil Recipe. Buon appetito!

My truffle pasta with a poached egg

 

Images courtesy of bbc.com and cookwithtom.com.

A weekend in the Windy City – Chicago, Illinois

Back in November, I met up with my cousin in Chicago to celebrate her 30th birthday. We had such a wonderful time – just the two of us!

First stop was the John Hancock Observatory, which is also known as 360 Chicago Observatory. If you’re ballsy enough, try TILT. You get a downward facing view 1,000 feet over the Magnificent Mile and Chicago’s skyline. It wasn’t something my cousin and I were up for, but the view from every side was beautiful. From what I heard, there’s also a view from the bathroom that we missed out on! I think we were getting tipsy at the bar and just forgot about it. But it’s alright. It’s an excuse to go back to Chicago. 🙂

We went to Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Skydeck has glass boxes that stick out 4 feet from the building for more scary but amazing views of the city from 1,353 feet up high. I won’t lie, I was terrified. We were on the 103rd floor!

We met up with my friend and walked down the Magnificent Mile. There are so many places to eat and shop there. We walked over the Chicago River, saw the famous Chicago Theater, checked out The Bean at Millennium Park, and had a cocktail at the Chicago Athletic Association. It sounds like a gym, but it’s a hotel with a restaurant/bar and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.

One of the highlights of our trip was going to see The Weeknd at the United Center. The concert was LIT. Literally. He had fire going on and everything.

If  you want a real dining experience you must try Alinea Restaurant. You have to book reservations on their site and they only book two months ahead. We checked the website every day before our trip and we got lucky! We got the last reservation for that night. There is a set menu and it is pricey, but it was worth every dollar spent. I would say the best part for me was dessert. The apple taffy helium balloon was so fun to eat. My cousin and I had a ball sounding like chipmunks. But that wasn’t all for dessert – a chef came out and painted our table with edible art! (I’m only posting one picture because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone. Every dish was beautifully plated.)

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In every city that I visit, I like to go to at least one museum. On this trip, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

We stopped by Downtown Dogs and I tried a Double Downtown Dog. It’s two hot dogs on a bun with mustard, relish, tomatoes, onions, pickles, hot peppers and celery salt. For someone who doesn’t really like or eat hot dogs, I did enjoy it. It was definitely different and something I’ve never had before. I mean, I had to try it. I was IN Chicago.

Getting popcorn from Garrett is a MUST. If there is a long line, just wait in it. I think we waited 20 minutes, but it was worth it. Get a few bags of the Garrett Mix to eat right away and to bring home – you won’t regret it.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

My family is a very family-oriented family despite the fact that everyone is spread apart across the country. We are all grown adults with our own lives and own families, but we do try to set aside time for these family gatherings. For our 2nd Annual Cousin Trip, we took it down Tampa, Florida.

We drove out to Clearwater Beach and rented kayaks from Sail Honeymoon. Sailboats and stand up paddle boards are also available for rent. We kayaked out to Caladesi Island which is just 15 minutes away. It was 80 degrees, the sun was out, and the water was nice and cool. Caladesi Island was the perfect place to hang out for a whole day. I wish we had planned this trip better and brought a picnic. We saw a few dolphins swim by while we were on the sand, and my cousins were lucky enough to have had an encounter with a manatee while paddling back to shore. It swam under their kayak and poked it’s snout out of the water.

On our way home we stopped by the famous Frenchy’s for a bite to eat. I’ve eaten at this restaurant a few times and my favorite dish is always the Greek Style Octopus. I also got the Jerk Grouper with Coconut Rice. The flavor of the coconut was not overpowering and accompanied my fish so well. The Frenchy’s Garlic Crab Fries and Maryland Style Jumbo Lump Crap Cakes were also delicious.

 

Brooklyn restaurant – St. Anselm

When my boss told me I was approved to go to training in New York City for a week, I was so excited. Not only was I looking forward to be learning geeky computer IT stuff, but I couldn’t wait to try the hundreds of great restaurants just train stops away from me. Everyone is always raving about how NYC has the best brunches, so I thought I’d try a spot.

My New York native friend suggested we hit up St. Anselm in Brooklyn (Williamsburg). We walked in on a Sunday afternoon and to my surprise there was no wait. To start off, I ordered a mimosa because brunch isn’t brunch without a mimosa. We shared the grilled avocado with shrimp salad appetizer. I’ve never had grilled avocado and it was absolutely amazing. It came halved, topped with baby shrimps in a white sour cream sauce with lemon zest and herbs. This savory sauce was sour and cold and offset the warm, neutral flavor of the avocado so well.

My friend ordered the steak and eggs off the Specials menu. She got her steak cooked medium but it came medium rare. None of us complained; that’s how steak should be cooked anyway. It was so juicy and flavorful. The dish came with garlicky potato fingerlings perfectly cooked tender. They were definitely addicting. She also ordered a side of spinach gratin, which was also tasty. You could taste more of the spinach and not the cheese. (I forgot to take a picture of it.)

My friend suggested I try the Sweet Tea Brined Young BoBo Chicken and I did not regret my decision to listen to her at all. They cook you a whole young chicken — yes, a whole chicken. As in chicken head, neck, and feet and all. The chicken is soaked in a tea marinade and then cooked on the grill. It was well cooked through and still very juicy. The lemon wedges were the perfect touch of sour.

Here’s a fun fact. St. Anselm’s meat is antibiotic and hormone free. One of the farms they source from is BoBo Farm, hence the Bobo in “Sweet Tea Brined Young Bobo Chicken”. I’m all about healthly eating!

Washington, D.C. – restaurants

I spent a weekend in Washington, D.C. for a bachelorette party. I can’t go into details about exactly what we did, but I’ll share the restaurants we went to.

After a night of heavy drinking, my friends and I walked around Dupont Circle area in search of some food. We stumbled upon this gem, Ping Pong Dim Sum. It isn’t an average dim sum spot; waitressess didn’t come around pushing carts of food. Our waiter handed us a checklist for the Unlimited Brunch menu and all we had to do was check off what food we wanted. Of course our eyes are bigger than our stomachs; we ordered way too much food. We got the Deconstructed Mimosa which was champagne poured over lychee popping boba. It kind of looks and has the texture of caviar; it’s definitely worth a try.

For dinner, we went to Osteria Morini. The restaurant is located in the Navy Yard next to The Yards Park. I actually thought this area was perfect for a date night (ahem, fellas). The girls and I sat outside for dinner and enjoyed the breeze from the river. We shared a delicious grilled octopus appetizer on a bed of couscous. We also shared the Casarecce Nero dish, which I thought would’ve had more flavor to it. I think I was expecting garlic overload like other squid ink pasta dishes that I’ve had. The Tagliatelle was delicious though. You can never go wrong with pasta and red sauce. After dinner, we walked around The Yards Park. There’s a gorgeous bridge that leads to a grass area and a wading pool. From there, lighted stairs that leads you up to a pretty florescent-lit fountain.

On our last day in DC, my friend and I walked around Dupont Circle in search of some real breakfast food. We asked a local and she suggested Teaism. The restaurant serves many types of tea and organic dishes. You can also buy tea to take home too. I ordered the Cilantro Scrambled Eggs and the Moroccan Mint Tea. The tea warmed my soul and made me feel whole again after a weekend of excessive drinking. My friend ordered waffles and shared her Aidells chicken and apple sausage with me. So yum!