Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trophy Cupcakes

On a sunny August day, I found myself near one of Seattle's three Trophy Cupcake locations. The shop was cute as can be and carried a lot of cupcake themed merchandise like cute notepads and various cupcake toppers.

Like many cupcake shops, a few staple flavors are available daily, some flavors are available on a rotating basis, and one flavor is featured for one monthly only. Anything that is available on a limited basis draws me in first. Being that both Aaron and I love blueberries, the blueberry pie was a no-brainer and the first flavor I chose. We also love lemonade, especially strawberry lemonade, so that was next. Since the cupcake box had room for 2 more, I opted for the for chocolate espresso bean. It just doesn't seem right to leave a bakery without something chocolatey, right?

I'm such a sucker for cute packaging, and specialty bakeries never seem to let me down in this department. Stripes, scalloped edges, and one of my favorite color combinations of brown and aqua put a big grin across my face before I even took a bite of its scrumptious contents!

Thankfully, these cupcakes and packaging were not just for show. They fully lived up to their presentation. They were moist, tender, beautifully decorated, and bold in flavor. Biting into the tender vanilla cupcake revealed a fresh blueberry filling. The cupcake was lined with a flaky pie crust. The frosting had just the right amount of sweetness. The strawberry lemonade was the perfect marriage where neither flavor dominated. The chocolate espresso bean was another match made in heaven. I really liked that the frosting on all three cupcakes were light, fluffy, and well balanced.

Later in the week, I found myself near another Trophy Cupcake location. Since it was just an hour before closing, they marked down the cupcakes to buy one get one free! I couldn't resist a deal, so I opted for another blueberry pie, peanut butter and jelly, salted caramel, and samoa. I must have been taking some crazy turns on the drive home because the box flew off the back seat and took a somersault onto the floor. I should've snapped a picture of my disaster just for laughs, but I was too ashamed of my crazy driving. The flavors were great and actually kept until the next day or two without getting dry, crusty, or hard. The only letdown among these four was the peanut butter and jelly. The homemade strawberry jam was too sweet, and there was too much frosting. I also didn't find the peanut butter flavor to be pronounced enough. I would not recommend this flavor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blueberry corn relish

Using our freshly picked blueberries, I made local Seattleite Chef Tom Douglas' recipe for a blueberry corn relish. I paired it with his signature rub with love on fresh, sockeye salmon. Thanks to my sorority sister, April, for introducing me to this rub. The rub includes brown sugar, which caramelizes nicely as the salmon cooks. I omitted the red bell pepper from the relish, and I don't think it was missed. The relish was sweet, crunchy, and savory all at the same time. I enjoyed the leftover relish with some corn chips, but it was perfectly delicious straight out of the bowl. It was a lovely Pacific Northwest dinner for the late summer evening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bluberry picking

As I packed up for the road trip cross country, I decided to skip canning in 2012. I quickly regretted that choice after seeing the bountiful produce here in the Pacific Northwest. For my first summer canning project, I decided to go blueberry picking. I've always wanted to go blueberry picking, but the season is short in Midwest, and very, very hot. It's also not very convenient to find a u-pick farm near the city. Imagine my excitement when I learned that I could pick blueberries at a farm just 20 minutes from our West Seattle apartment!

Aaron and I picked blueberries for about an hour, which yielded 4.3 pounds! We used the blueberries for eating, freezing, and canning. For my two canning projects, I made blueberry aigre doux and blueberry jam. I haven't tasted them yet, but I will certainly blog about it when we open the jars.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cucumber fennel salsa

I love fresh, homemade salsa - whether it's a simple pico de gallo, tomatillo salsa, or a fruit salsa. I had a leftover bulb of fennel after repeating this lovely summer salad, which led me to an interesting salsa recipe. Fortunately, we had a bounty of lemon cucumbers that we couldn't eat quickly enough. If you are in search of a bright, crunchy, off beat salsa, this fennel cucumber salsa is for you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Serious Pie

After a disappointing pizza experience at a highly recommended local favorite, we were starting to worry about when we'd have good pizza again. Having had good experiences at Lola and Palace Kitchen, I suggested a third Tom Douglas restaurant: Serious Pie. We are thrilled to report that it's now one of our favorite thin crust pizzas!

The menu is small with a concentration on seasonal ingredients, but the reduced list of choices certainly didn't make it any easier to choose! Based on our server's recommendation, we started with the pork belly, apricot mostarda, arugula, and pistachios. The pork belly was expertly prepared - crisp on the outside and tender porky flavor on the inside.

Since we couldn't narrow it down to one pizza, we ordered two: roasted corn, walla walla onions, ricotta, and summer herbs; sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers and provolone. The roasted corn pizza was fully loaded with ingredients and taste. The ricotta was rich and creamy on the crisp pizza crust. The sauce on the sausage pizza had that recognizable sweetness of san marzano tomatoes.

On a previous dinner at Palace Kitchen, I opted not to get their signature coconut cream pie. Fortunately, it was on the menu at Serious Pie, which made dessert a no-brainer even though we were full! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mini Produce Bag #1

I'm finally back on the wagon of getting weekly produce bags! I've been hitting the weekly farmers market here on Sundays, where I have been buying big, juicy cherries, salad greens, and berries. I wanted to be exposed to more variety, so when Tiny's Organic came up on groupon, I quickly jumped at the chance to give them a try. They had been on my short list of local CSAs, so a three week mini-bag was the perfect trial.

I picked up my first bag after work tonight, and I could not believe the heft of this so-called "mini-bag." This produce bag kicks butt compared to the CSA's in Chicago! We received purple basil, 15 lemon cucumbers, 4 honey blaze nectarines, 6 pluots, a bag full of cherries, 10 donut peaches, oh my! I've never even seen or had lemon cucumbers, which are an heirloom variety. They were deliciously refreshing, crisp, and easy to disgest with a thin skin.  Isn't the box of donut peaches adorable? I can't wait to see what is in store for us next week.