Seattle Vacation

After a wonderful time in Vancouver, we took an Amtrak train down to Seattle. Thankfully the train tickets were only about $15 combined due to my reward points, otherwise it would not have been worth it. The train is almost twice as long as driving and we got stuck in a car with kids and no view.

One big plus about Seattle was that we had cell phone service finally. While we did like being disconnected for a while in Canada, we were happy to be able to look up places on the fly, especially when we needed directions.

The weather was a bit chilly in Seattle and much windier than Vancouver. I also didn’t realize how some parts of Seattle are so hilly, almost like San Francisco! Each day we spent in Seattle was jam-packed to the point where there were a few things we’ll have to go back for some time that we didn’t get to do. Our motto when planning trips is that you have to leave some stuff to do next time!

Day 1

After waking up at 5AM and traveling across an international border, we were in desperate need of caffeine. After checking in to our AirBnb, we hopped over to Stumptown Coffee. The coffee was good, but not the best–a bit too acrid for my taste. We then headed over to the CakeSpy Shop.  – I’m a fan of Jessie (blogger/artist) and we were staying in Capitol Hill nearby. Sadly, the shop/art gallery is closing, but I’m glad we got to visit! It had some very interesting pieces of art, including the art donated to CupcakeCampDC and an art gallery upstairs. We continued to walk around Pine/Pike, though some portions of the street were closed due to a block party.

We hopped over to Marination Station which was some of the best food we had all trip. It’s a Hawai’ian place tucked into a shopping center with great sauces, daily specials (ex: Theo chocolate chicken mole because the Theo factory is nearby), and juice drinks from HI. Mac salad with spam? Yes please. We also got the kahlua slider and the Spicy Pork & Kalbi Tacos, which were juicy, saucy, and parcels of flavor in our mouths.

I only really wanted to try one cupcake place (Trophy), but Cupcake Royale was seemingly *everywhere*. I only tried one mini cupcake (peanut butter, chocolate, and bacon) and it was good. Before we went to Seattle, I asked fellow foodie Pat from The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook/Blog for some recommendations and I took her up on her suggestion for Little Uncle. It was a bit of a hike to get here, but since a lot of Pike was closed, we had had time to spare. We opted for the heirloom green rhubarb and peach shaved ice. The space is very interesting and the staff was very nice and friendly. The food smelled so good, I was tempted to order something, but we were very full.

What did I say about being full? That didn’t stop us from snacking on some Stumptown Coffee ice cream in a housemade waffle cone at Molly Moon’s. They had interesting flavors, but the ice cream was a tad too soft for my liking. We rounded the corner and walked in to Old School Frozen Custard for some tastes since we were on the verge of diabetes at this point. They have vanilla, chocolate, and a special flavor every day. It’s milwaukee-style and similar to Milwaukee’s Frozen Custard around here, so we didn’t go back. We then looped around to Bluebird for a taste of the weekend special, “Phantograham” ice cream. I don’t like graham crackers, but graham cracker ice cream for some reason tasted great. Since it was a weekend special, we made it a point to come back the next day, which was easy because they’re open late. They also make their own waffle cones, serve beer, and have board games that you can play like 1993 UNO and Boggle.

For dinner we sat outside at Restaurant Zoë. The drinks were nice, but a tad too sweet and weak. We got gnocchi, shaved beef tongue, wild boar pasta, and tumeric glazed lamb with lentils. The macadamia short bread cookie-accompanied coffee creme brulee we had for dessert and the soft and salty bread made up for any hiccups in the menu. We ended the night at Tavern Law / Needle & Thread. Needle & Thread is a speakeasy inside Tavern Law. We had a black tea rye fizz while waiting for our reservation for Needle, then went upstairs after calling from an old-school phone and entering through a saf-style door. Though it was a Saturday, we were the only people inside! I think it was because of the block party going on at the time. We got to talk a lot to the staff about cocktails and spirits in general and every great tasting cocktail was custom tailored to our request. We also got 2 containers of digestifs/bitters with our check. The space really reminded me of the Columbia Room.

Oatmeal Cookies

I find it hard to believe that I haven’t posted about these Oatmeal Cookies yet. We make these cookies so often that I’ve almost memorized the recipe. I say almost because I don’t usually make these, my boyfriend does. He’s much more of a cookie/pie guy and not so much in to tarts and cupcakes.

This recipe is very flexible. The traditional recipe calls for 1 cup of raisins, but we usually sub them for more interesting ingredients. You could try other dried fruit, chocolate, peanut butter, or nuts. Our go-to is half peanut butter chips and half mini-chocolate chips.

These are best right out of the oven, but last several days if covered.

I accidentally forgot the “additional” 6 tablespoons butter mentioned in the recipe below– that’s almost half the butter and these cookies still tasted great! Because of the lack of extra butter, it did make 19 cookies instead of 24 (I was doing a half recipe).

Quadruple Strawberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes have four different types of strawberry in them – Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Lime Gin Compote Filling, Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, and a Chocolate-dipped Strawberry on top. Needless to say, my strawberry-allergic-sister got no where close to these. I made these cupcakes for a surprise baby shower that we threw for a co-worker. The cake was very moist, maybe even a little too moist, but I’ll attribute that to the liquid-y filling. I actually made these the night before and for once, a swiss meringue frosting turned out! Unfortunately, I chilled it overnight and it separated. No amount of beating or adding of powders could solidify it again. I took the remaining strawberry gin compote and tossed it a traditional cream cheese frosting which tasted just as good.

These cupcake liners are Martha Stewart. I splurged on a bunch of them because they were on sale at a local craft store. I wish I would have tried the liners before buying so many – these are not worth it! You would think that Martha Stewart products for the price would be good quality, but these liners are equal or less quality than grocery store brands for about 6x the cost! This is a light, yellow cake with a dark purple and white liner and you can barely see the pattern. *sigh* I might be able to salvage them by baking a pastel muffin liner inside them, but I don’t know if it’d be worth it.


Egg Salad & Carrot Cake Cupcake Bento

It’s been a while since a lunch post appeared!

Have you ever boiled a bunch of eggs and wondered what to do with them? Easter, Labor Day, and other holidays come to mind. This egg salad is a basic recipe that substitutes the celery for green peppers and is on pumpernickel/rye swirl bread . Going with the Easter theme (only 5 months late, right?), this lunch was packed in a Miffy sandwich box with a carrot cake cupcake, some edamame, and a fruit cup.

The cupcake packed above was from my “mother-in-law”. It’s a coincidence because I made a bunch of carrot cake cupcakes too! I stopped by a local cake supply store and got some sugar carrots as decoration, but other than that, this recipe is simple and timeless.

I used the extra batter to bake mini-cupcakes. I mixed a little green food coloring and some shaved coconut to make some “easter grass”, then decorated them with jelly beans for eggs. An ice cube tray was a perfect vessel for transport.

This past April I went to my parents’ for Easter. We had some Hawai’ian bread, sweet potatoes, ham, scalloped potatoes, bacon baked beans, and corn. I’m not religious, though my parents are a bit. They know I just come for the food ^_^ I tried to propose a lamb or rabbit for Easter dinner next year but that didn’t seem to fly. It was hard enough to get them to try a different turkey last Thanksgiving!

Drinks Using Gourmet Spices from Marx Foods

I was given some exotic ingredients from Marx Food and challenged to create a cocktail and mocktail recipe. I often make cocktails based on drinks I’ve had at local places or weird flavor profiles that I think up in my head. It’s easier to think of cocktail recipes because you set yourself down a path based on what spirit you choose to start with. It’s actually harder to make a non-alcoholic drink because the possibilities are endless and overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t want to have alcohol in your drink due to lifestyle, medication, age, or just to be family-friendly. In the end, our house liked the mocktail better because we could drink as much as we want and share it with everyone.

Update: The poll is now open! Feel free to see the other contestants & vote for your favorite!

Community Garden

Makes 1 drink. This drink is a mixture of herbs and vegetables you might find in your backyard garden. It’s very fresh with a slight savory note. Because it’s not too sweet, it stays light and you can taste all of the flavor layers. Saffron adds an exotic spice while the dill pollen sprinkled on top is the first thing you smell before sipping.

  • 1 ounce cucumber vodka
  • ½ ounce cointreau
  • ½ ounce RHUBY
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • 1 teaspoon yuzu juice
  • 1 pinch saffron leaves
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 1 dash dill pollen
  • cucumber slice for garnish
Muddle basil, saffron, and cucumber vodka. Add remaining ingredients except for dill pollen and club soda and shake until combined. Add to glass filled with two handfuls of ice. Top with club soda, stir. Sprinkle top with dill pollen and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Pacific Shrub

Makes 2 drinks. This drink is a more complex version of iced tea. This black tea from Hawai’i is spicy and has citrus notes and is inspired by the island’s volcanoes. It is brewed hot and then allowed to chill while being infused with dried pineapple and saffron. The club soda helps to keep this from getting too sweet and too muddled. Note: Bitters range in percentage of alcohol. Fee Brother’s has no alcohol % on its label so I am assuming they are alcohol-free.

Add tea leaves to hot water. Brew for 5 minutes and then strain tea leaves. Add to refrigerator-safe container and add saffron and dried pineapple. Refrigerate until cold (2 hours to overnight). Take two glasses, fill with two handfuls of ice, put half of the iced tea in each glass (½ cup), reserving the pineapple. Add ½ tablespoon of strawberry shrub to each glass, followed by ⅛ (2 tablespoons) of ginger drink and ⅛ cup club soda in each. Add 2 dashes of Fee Brother’s Aromatic Bitters to each glass and stir. Top each glass with a pinch of fennel pollen and a no-longer-dried pineapple wedge.