La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes

La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes  

La Croix Blackberry Cucumber Cupcakes  

I have a slight obsession with La Croix sparkling water. At any given time I have three plus flavors stocked in my refrigerator. I have lengthy discussions with my sister and other La Croix fans. And let it be known this is NOT a sponsored post. But simply my first attempts at admitting my addiction.

A few weeks back I came across a "new to me" flavor of Blackberry Cucumber La Croix at Target. My winter was made complete that day. And this past weekend I decided to put to test my new favorite flavor and use it in a one step cupcake recipe. I was very pleased with the resulting cupcake and then paired it with a simple Swiss buttercream frosting topped with a fresh blackberry. You could really use any flavor La Croix with this recipe so have fun and experiment. 

La Croix Blackbery Cucumber Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F

Line two 12 count muffin pans with paper liners and set aside. 

Mix one boxed White Cake Mix with one can of La Croix of choice. Omitting all other ingredients (the eggs, oil, and water). 

Portion out batter into muffin pans and bake for 18-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely and frost with any basic white frosting. I used a simple white frosting with a hint of vanilla added. If it suits you, store bought frosting will work just as well. 

 

(Crawfish) Boils, Boston, and Boozy Cakes

A few weeks back I took a vision quest to the small village of Cambridge, Massachusetts to visit some friends and partake in my very first crawfish boil. Now I am sure that many of you are picking your jaws up off the floor with the image of my fine Jew self sucking down some crawfish brains. It should be known to all that I was given official Jew approval by the official Southern Jew (SoJew) herself. In fact her exact words were, “You are a Southern Jew now. Get over it.” With those words of encouragement and $40 cash it wasn’t but a few minutes time that I found myself beard deep in serving platter of the little red bastards. One thousand pounds of crawfish had been ordered for the annual LSU Crawfish Boil held at The Baseball Tavern. I ate roughly 999 pounds. I kid. I ate enough that I was afraid to fart in public but not enough that I also chased it with a cheese burger from Tasty Burger about two hours later.

The event overall was wonderful. I was able to spend hours with friends talking about all the great times we had at LSU. The picnics we had in the quad between classes. The all night ragers over at Lamda Lamda Lamda. And then I realized I didn’t go to LSU. That I spent all my time in college working at the mall like all good gay virgins with dreams of big city Working Girl lives. Oh Tape World. I miss you.

The whole weekend was full of fun activities. There was the night I kiki’d with the girls over Indian take out. That night I learned that I am the same Myers Briggs personality type as Joe Hackett from the seminal television classic Wings. Television has not been the same since that show left us.

Then there was the afternoon that I lost my virginity while getting a pedicure. I have to admit it actually was my first time in the pedicure chair. And I have to admit that I really do think I lost my virginity (again and again and again) to that same pedicure chair. My fine Boston friend, Ms. Antipasto, apparently didn’t feel it necessary to tell me that the chair reenacts scenes from movies you normally have to verify your age to watch. The place was lovely. If I lived there I was would have a standing weekly appointment. Maybe on Saturday mornings.

Part of an afternoon was spent crying in a Christian Science library. Part of an afternoon was spent acting out our favorite scenes from Evening Shade on balconies overlooking bays. One morning was spent getting to know strangers over cheesy grits. Another morning was spent binge eating pie for breakfast with friends.

And through it all we still had time to squeeze in some greatly appreciated episodes of Good Times. Thankfully JJ got out of jail in part two of that nail biter.

All in all a great weekend.  

Now I am sure all of you are wondering what the “H”, “E”, Double Hockey Sticks I whipped up in the kitchen this week for the blog.

If you recall last week's riveting post you will know that at one point during my weekend shenanigans I found myself a bar listening to my wonderful friend Leasing Agent sing. While there the barkeep suggested I try this new to me root beer with a kick. He handed me a bottle of Not Your Father’s Root Beer by the fine folks over at Small Town Brewery. Let me just say that if you are a fan of root beer and a fan of alcohol pick some up. Warn your family that rehab is your plan for next Summer and call it day. If this liquid gold had been around when Nancy Reagan was in office she would have warned us against it on an episode of Diff’rent Strokes. As my plan is to not be plastered at the pool all weekend I decided to use what I bought for a good old fashioned Root Beer Cake.

Not Your Father’s Boozy Cake

(adapted from The Food Network’s Root Beer Bundt Cake)

Prepared Buttercream Frosting (recipe here)



Gay Jew's Gone Wild (on Netflix), Guinness Chocolate Cake, and Greatest Story Ever Told

Ummmm...Check out Tab Hunter's sausage. 2. I am pretty sure Old Roddy there is giving Tab a Guinness Chocolate Cake and C. The cake picture is courtesy of my friend Nigella

Ummmm...Check out Tab Hunter's sausage. 2. I am pretty sure Old Roddy there is giving Tab a Guinness Chocolate Cake and C. The cake picture is courtesy of my friend Nigella

I rolled awake sometime around 3 am to find a text from Black Kelly informing me that she would be swinging by my bach pad the next day (Easter) to pick me up for an Easter Brunch at Irish Car Bomb's home. Not one to turn down a trip out of the house I rolled over and continued to have dreams involving quasi-friends going back to school for architecture (please leave dream analysis in comments). 

As I rolled awake around 5 am and proceeded to watch clips of cartoons from my youth on YouTube with one eye closed (all seriously visually challenged people will understand the no glasses one eyed lifestyle) I decided that I really couldn't crash an Irish Easter Brunch empty handed. And getting up at 6 am to bake a cake is far more fun than rolling over to gently rub the back of Netflix and sweet talk him into morning sex movies. 

So I pressed the little red mic on my Google app and proceeded to hoarsely yell "GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CAKE" because my right arm was safely numb under the weight of my right moob and duvet, making typing on my iPhone not an option.  

Being a day of miracles Nigella Lawson's Guinness Chocolate Cake was the first on my list. There was no more searching needed.

Now having a slight history in food photography I always appreciate a photo with a recipe. This one showed the cake as a one layer with frosting. Being an American who needs everything to be bigger than our former landlords, The Brits, I doubled the recipe. I'm not going to say this was a big mistake. But I didn't need two massive one layer cakes. However, my freezer is now one massive layer cake up on inventory. I'm going to top with my traditional Stolen Swiss Buttercream Frosting.

Mind you the Guinness Chocolate Cake was just my initial search on The Googs. Somehow I ended up reading the plot of The Greatest Story Ever Told (for those of you over the age of 30ish you might get that reference). Which then got me to googling images of a young Roddy McDowall and Tab Hunter. And that brought me right back to poking Netflix in the back. 

Wishing you all a Happy Passover, Easter, Random Sunday in April, and 4/20 (for those of you in states that allow that).  




Rosario, Roulade and Ree Ree (not Rihanna)

I did not take the picture of Rosario - the rest are all mine



This past week was a slow work week. Pride was last weekend and then Independence Day was just past Thursday...which means 40 hours of actual work was crammed into Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday. The rest of the time was food/sun/laundry and trying to figure what the hell to do with a Birkin Bags worth of rhubarb that Just Joni stole from some old man's backyard back home. That's right. She's bad ass.  

Last weekend I was desperate. And not in the trolling for sex because it was Pride sort of way (that's so turn of the century) but in the I wanted easy carbs in my belly but needed them to look like they were fancy so I didn't feel bad. Naturally I went to the packaged cinnamon rolls that I brought home like 5 years ago from a packaging job I had in my previous career as a Food Stylist.

How did I slap lipstick on those pigs you ask? 

Well start by cutting those little artery cloggers into quarters (before baking them), roll them in some brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Lube up a tube pan and toss them in like it's semi-finals at a beer pong game over at Tri Lambda House. Bake them up until they are done and then just dive face first into the tub of white goo that tastes like heaven. Just make sure you clean up any that dribbles onto the chin. No reason to get rumors started. 

Second on my food to do list was to use that damned rhubarb. Why is there always sooooo much? Anyway, made a roulade. Look it up if you need to. Or just trust me that it's like a giant joint made of cake.  Recipe is below - total intermediate level. So call me or send pictures when it totally bombs.  

And finally C on my food to do list was to make my own flour tortillas. Did you just fall off your Lazy-Boy? Because I even amazed myself with this beast of a project. And it was completely out of laziness on my own part. The nearest flour tortilla was 3 miles away and I was not about to break a sweat for them.  

Homemade flour tortillas are super easy. Not sure why working mothers of 2.5 children with sexually frustrated husbands don't take the hour and half needed to make these Mexican delicacies. So if you are like me and have a few hours to kill on a Sunday , channel your inner Rosario and get crackin' on those tortillas! Again the recipe is below. Totally stole it from the "country girl" Ree Drummond at Pioneer Girl. You know she has a McDonald's in her basement and isn't telling us. Hey Ree! Love you girl! Keep up the good work! 

P.S. She is NOT related to Mr. Drummond on Diff't Strokes. Don't even bother googling that one. Trust me.        

Here is what I've made in the last week that should make you want to date and/or live with me:

Rhubarb Roulade (aka Rhubarb Swiss Cake Roll)
From Gourmet Cookbook (the huge yellow one)

For cake

4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Confectioners sugar for dusting

For filling

1 lb rhubarb stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 15- by 10- by 1-inch shallow baking pan and line with wax paper. Butter paper and dust with flour, knocking out excess.


Beat together yolks, vanilla, and 5 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 1 minute with a standing mixer or 3 minutes with a handheld.

Beat whites with salt using cleaned beaters in another bowl until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Gently fold one third of flour and one third of whites into yolk mixture, then gently fold in remaining flour and whites in 2 more batches, making sure flour is thoroughly incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until top is pale and dry to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cake in pan to a rack and cool, covered with a kitchen towel, 5 minutes.

Cook rhubarb while cake is baking:

Cook rhubarb with sugar in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat (rhubarb will exude liquid), stirring, until rhubarb is a thick purée, about 8 minutes. Spread filling on a plate and chill 5 minutes.


Make roulade:

Remove towel and arrange cake with a short side nearest you. Spread rhubarb filling evenly over cake, leaving a 1-inch border on each short side. Put a platter next to far end of cake. Beginning with near short side and using wax paper as an aid, roll up cake jelly-roll style. Carefully transfer roll, seam side down, to platter, using wax paper as an aid.


Dust cake generously with confectioners sugar, then slice with a serrated knife.

Homemade Flour Tortillas
*Side note - I did NOT use Lard. I mean why wouldn't I have that just laying around like miss thing does? I used good old fashioned shortening.  

Ingredients

2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Hot Water

Preparation Instructions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together.
Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour.
Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
When you're ready to make the tortillas, head a dark or cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container. To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven.


Pall Malls, Puddin' and Pancakes

***don't trust advertisers...it has been my experience that longer is not always milder

Good evening fans (hey Just Joni)!

This post is going to be short. I have been beyond busy with work and life. Not that y'all (hi again Mom) are not priority number one in my day to day. But I need to pay my bills and the street corners have been cut throat as of late.  

I spent most of last week in the fine state of North Carolina gettin' my fill of "southern cuisine". Why the quotes you ask? Because after my third trip there in three months I am pretty sure that "southern cuisine" is code for artery clogging amaze-balls food that should only be eaten with supervision of a reputable medical doctor.  

Here is where I ate - and I recommend that you try them should you find yourself in Pall Mall country.  

Milner's American Southern - try the burger and a Manhattan then race back to you hotel room with clients in the car because as good as the burger is it will cheat on you like a bad online date that lasted a few too many years. Then leave a generous tip for the housekeeping staff. Probably not a good idea to leave a box of Swiss Cake Rolls on the nightstand for emotional eating. We all love Little Debbie - if you need proof here it is (click here...right here...this is the link I want you to click

Firebirds - now judge kindly, but try the burger with sweet potato fries. With a Manhattan. No need to rush home though.  

And if you ever find yourself stranded at the Marriott in the Piedmont Triad Airport in Greensboro you MUST MUST MUST get the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding (see photo above). Trish, the barmaid, will weave you a magical tale of her friend shooting a car thief in the leg and not getting charged with anything because it's friggin' North Carolina people! Take a swig of Moonshine and brace for the impact of the bullet. Then laugh over it while you eat Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.  

That was North Carolina and about 600 hours of my week.  

Here are some other things I've been up to: 

Rhubarb Compotes

Upside-down Rhubarb Cake

Sourdough Pancakes

Sourdough Banana Bread 

Sourdough Banana Bread French Toast - bet you wished we were dating at this point don't you? I'm single and ready to mingle...in my kitchen. 

UPDATE (04.23.2017): Rumor has it that Milner's has closed due to some unmentionable indiscretions.