Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Simple Flordian Menu

I’m currently in Florida with some friends for a long weekend at the beach, thanks to the generosity of Mary’s parents (Thanks Joy and Rennie for letting us stay at your place!). We spend the day at the beach, have a picnic lunch and then come home to drink and eat a menu inspired by fresh seafood. Since my internal alarm clock won’t let me sleep late, I’m up and there is nothing on but infomercials so I’m posting this yummy recipe we had last night. Ever since I had Key Lime Pie in Miami in March I have been craving it again so I wanted to try a simple recipe that anyone could make. Last night’s menu was simple but tasty: Fresh Fish Tacos Homemade Salsa and Guacamole Key Lime Pie The Fish Tacos are comprised of fresh fish (whatever your favorite is, the flounder at the fish market looked the best so that is what we had) with whatever flavoring you prefer, we used old bay seasoning and broiled it until done. We had corn tortillas and made our own spicy slaw by using a bag of pre-cut cole slaw and adding chili powder (or whatever Mexican spices you prefer), a halved and seeded jalapeno, some cilantro, a tablespoon of sugar and some white vinegar (thanks Jennifer for making the spicy slaw). Remove the jalapeno before you serve…or if you really like spice then chop it up and leave it in. Salsa and guacamole are easy (especially with the Tupperware spin chopper or a food processor)…onions, roma tomatoes, jalapenos (seeded), cilantro, lime juice and salt. Make the salsa as you like, once you have the avocados mashed up, add the salsa to it until it tastes like you want. Ok on to the good stuff. I got this recipe off of the site… There are millions of recipes on there and millions of versions of popular recipes, this one is by far the easiest and best flavored Key Lime Pie recipe than I’ve ever made before. Key Lime Pie VII (not my number but theirs) 1 9-inch Graham Cracker crust (buy it or make your own) 3 cups sweet condensed milk (about 1 and ½ cans so buy 2 cans) ½ cup sour cream ¾ cup key lime juice (this will take about 20-30 key limes, remember to roll your limes on the counter before cutting them to release all the juices or have Angie there to roll and cut the limes for you) 1 tbs grated lime zest Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice and zest. Mix well, it will be lumpy for a while until you get it good and smooth then pour into crust. Bake in preheated oven for 5-8 minutes or until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of the pie. Be careful and watch closely you do NOT want to brown this pie. Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Add whipped cream, slice and serve. If you want to make it really special and have time, cut small strips of rind. In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of water with ½ cup of sugar, add rind and bring to a boil, drain candied lime strips and let dry/crystallize. Sorry no pictures, we ate it so fast I forgot to take them...or maybe that was the tequila shot that forgot them! :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Handy Manny Birthday Cake

Not to toot my own horn, but I am good at baking, I can make things that are fattening and tasty and typically make them look good but I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants person than I am a precise measurement person, when it comes to the kitchen at least. That being said I agreed to make a cake for one of my nephews (ok, they are adopted nephews…no Adam and April do not have kids yet they have my niece pups, niece and nephew foals, etc. but no human children) for his 2nd birthday. The theme was Handy Manny and I know this will shock everyone but I had no idea who Manny was which required some investigation and then Mary (mother of my nephew Grant) sent me pictures that were 3 dimensional cakes…gulp. Ok so Manny needs to upgrade his tool box because it is very old school, which is where I started to freak. But I learned some things throughout the course of this process which I will share with you now:
  1. Cake, as I mentioned previously is important but when you are making a character cake or a three-dimensional cake you should get something that is NOT Super Moist or Extra Moist or has any type of pudding in it, you need something that will hold up when stacked.
  2. If using a cake board, cover it with the opposite side of tin foil so it is easy to clean up smudges of icing. It also is a nice finish for pictures.
  3. DO not, I repeat DO not use marshmallow fluff as filler between cake layers. Often I will add marshmallow fluff to the center of cupcakes, cupcakes good (tastes like a Hostess Cupcake), cake layers bad. My cake oozed marshmallow fluff for about 3 hours and as I was icing the cake it continued to prevent some problems. Stick to icing or jams. Now I will say that marshmallow fluff is a great to moisten a dry cake…if you over baked the cake and have some time before you have to ice it spread a thin layer on the cake and let it set and it will moisten the cake right up.
  4. Use a portable fan to help dry the outside of the cake, speed icing drying time and help things stick together.
  5. Using melting chocolates (like for chocolate molds, they come in many colors and are in easy-to-melt chips from any craft store with a cake area) to create designs and dimensions. Take a piece of waxed paper and draw your design or outline of your design, then flip the paper over, melt chocolates in a resealable zip lock bag…do this very slowly as to not burn a hole in the zip lock bag, let the bag cool for 20 seconds, snip a hole in the corner and use as a piping bag over the top of your design. If you have a large area to fill then use a icing knife to fill in the holes. Once dry peel off the paper and add to the front or stick directly on your cake. Photo shows all you need!
  6. When needing a structure piece, like the ends of my cake, Gingerbread is a great to make an edible option that is easy to roll out, cut and bake. Icing it is a different story; if you are into fondant then go with that for a smooth finish, I’m not into fondant so it just looks a little rough. If you aren’t into making gingerbread then just use cardboard and ice it, no one will know the difference. I made a template out of cardboard or you can print templates off the internet.
  7. Do NOT, do NOT agree to do a cake with pure red frosting. Red is the hardest color to create. If you can find pre-canned frosting that is dyed red buy stock in it. Make sure that you use the no-taste red gel dye from Wilton; it is the ONLY kind I’ve found that won’t leave a nasty taste in your mouth. I also purchased red icing spray (it can be found at Michaels is in the far left side of the photo) and sprayed down the cake to make sure that poor Grant didn’t have a bright pink cake for his 2nd birthday.

You will see the photos…not perfect, but perfect enough for a 2 year old. The addition of the tools from the tool box, I have to admit it was pretty cute. Good luck if you attempt this cake, it took me about 3 days total due to drying time. Day 1: Bake cake and make gingerbread, Day 2: Ice with crumb coat, let dry completely and apply final icing layer, add embellishments, Day 3: Party time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ice, Ice Miami

So I was in Miami back in March for work, honestly for work and we weren’t near the beach so it was 100% work until Thursday night when we cruised over to Miami Beach and boy was it a place. So the inspiration for this blog post is based off of the highway we had to take to get over to the beach and anyone in my era knows immediately what A1A is in reference to…ok if that didn’t help then maybe this will…A1A Beach Front Avenue. So yes I have taken small snippets from the legendary song from the 80’s and the one man that started high school and Jr. High kids everywhere shaving ‘ditches’ into your eyebrows. Spring Break at Miami Beach honestly scares me…maybe it is because I just turned 30 or maybe because it was a cesspool of nastyness. I’m guessing it is much nicer during the summer or when the spring breakers aren’t in town. Ice Ice Baby All right stop collaborate and listen Which was really hard to do when the reason you are in Miami is because you’re displaying at an international conference and ½ the audience cannot speak English so you pretend that you know what they are asking, they pretend they understood what you are saying and you both smile. Ice is back with my brand new invention Something grabs a hold of me tightly It might have been the guy standing behind the bush with his bicycle fondling himself. Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly Night would have been scary there, it was hard to get Jake out of the car in the daylight. Will it ever stop yo I don't know I’m guessing when the spring breakers leave yes. Turn off the lights and I'll glow The lights turned off would make this place bearable. Rollin' in my 5.0 With my rag-top down so my hair can blow Actually we were in a Camry…no sticking accelerators…and our windows were down until we rolled up on a motorcycle gang on Ocean Blvd…then they were up The girlies on standby waving just to say hi Pretty sure the girls were saying I’m easy and I’m only $20 an hour, but there were some very classy ladies walking down the street with fruity drinks in their hands, cover-ups half covering up and high heels that I couldn’t walk across my living room in. Did you stop no I just drove by Yep, yep we just drove on by Kept on pursuing to the next stop Which was about 3 feet from the previous stop because it was bumper to bumper traffic and moving very slow or you would miss out on the exciting stuff. I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block The block was dead Yo so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue Honestly, it was pretty exciting to realize that I was driving on A1A…pretty much brought me back to riding the school bus and singing along to this song…I bet my parents were so proud. Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis Yes they were the rejects from Jersey Shore and pretty sure that hot = overheating and less than bikinis wasn’t supposed to mean a jean skirt so short her granny panties stuck out the bottom. Seriously it was not attractive that she was walking down the street sharing more of her than needed yelling at someone on the phone in her Jersey accent about f’ing walking f’ing block…oh did I mention she was rocking kicks with socks…not a good look. Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis All the Lamborghini drivers we saw must have been gay because the only people we saw in Lamborghinis, Porches and Maseratis were two dude…hate to break it to you but two dudes in a car like that leaves no room for any chics so they must have been lovers. Jumped in my car slammed on the gas Because we were scared we were going to get jumped by the gang we drove by. Bumper to bumper the avenue's packed This is no exaggeration because if you drove quickly you would miss all the sights and sounds. I'm trying to get away before the jackers jack Police on the scene you know what I mean But they weren’t doing a lot because they were riding bicycles…and they weren’t too concerned about the dirty guy behind the bushes. Miami's on the scene just in case you didn't know it Scene for my mommy and daddy bought me a STD for Spring Break My town that created all the bass sound Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground 'Cause my style's like a chemical spill A chemical spill might help to clean the joint up a little Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel Conducted and formed This is a hell of a concept The only hell in the concept is that this place is such a hot spot…maybe we were in the ‘bad’ part of the beach and that is fine…I have to say it was quite possibly some of the BEST people watching that I have had in a long time and I have spent the better part of 3 months in airports which everyone knows are almost the best people watching, until Ocean Front Ave. in Miami Beach.
We had some great dinners in Miami however, I highly recommend grabbing dinner or taking customers to the Oceanaire Seafood Room or Chop House Miami.
The Oceanaire ( is in a quaint little district that has tobacco shops, apparel and of course a FedEx Kinkos. The Oceanaire had hand-down the best Key Lime Pie that I have ever had. Fun Fact that I learned in Miami was that good Key Lime Pie is actually yellow in color not lime green, interesting.
The Chop House Miami ( has by far the best seafood appetizer tower I’ve ever seen. I recommend that you have a big group or a big appetite or maybe just get the tower with some drinks and call it a night. This is the only place that I have ever had a waiter tell me that they serve only the finest corn-fed aged Kansas City steaks. Let’s just say that they had me at corn-fed but then he threw in KC and I was in heaven.