This is my cookcabulary

Hawaii is Fantastic!

Aloha!! I am writing to you from sunny Waikiki Beach! Ok, not really – its  little overcast today, but I am still in Hawaii.

I’ve missed the blog – not baking for a while is making me sad, but I am pretty sure vacation helps me get over that fact very quickly.

My time here so far has been great!! Minus the mini moped accident … more on that later.  We got in Christmas Eve after 12 hours of flying and running around in the Houston airport.  The first leg was AWFUL! I thought I had eaten enough after I took my multi-vitamin, but apparently not.  I had the you.know.what.bag in my hand the last 30 minutes or so of the flight. It was excruciating.  But, I powered through it, got some food in  my belly and the flight to Honolulu, 8 straight hours, wasnt so bad!

I have to admit, being in the tropics for Christmas is weird, and surreal.  You kind of forget it.  Not many people here have Christmas decorations.  Except for the condo we’re staying in – there’s a giant tree and Christmas music playing in the lobby – so that helps.  But, in reality – does it really matter were you are on Christmas? Nope, my God goes everywhere with me! And as we opened our fun little stockings Christmas morning on the lanai, overlooking the ocean, we had a moment to reflect and remember whose birthday we’re really celebrating and the gift that came with it!  :)

Don’t worry, I’ll get to the moped in a minute …

Today is Tuesday, we have the rest of today 3 more full days and then a good chunck of Saturday before we leave.  Our pictures are tomorrow and I am super pumped.   Although I have developed a small food child in my abdomen so we’ll have to go run that off here in a minute. Ha!  I’ve accomplished laying one the beach every day except for yesterday, I’ve worked out twice (yay me!), saw sea turtles while snorkeling and other beautiful fish


They were so beautiful!! I have also eaten Shave Ice, tons of Dole Pineapple soft serve, and lots of french fries. The food has just been excellent! Even the shopping is great! Let me tell you a little Lex story …

A couple years ago I was at Saks and found a great pair of 7 jeans, ON SALE! I bought them and later that month ripped them unloading a TV from my brothers truck.  Note to self – don’t wear expensive jeans when you are moving around carrying heavy objects.  I don’t think I need to express how upset I was. Needless to say, they cannot be worn with out someone suspecting I am a street worker.  So, I have been waiting to find the perfect replacement.  And when our trip to Hawaii had been finalized, I KNEW that would be the moment in which I would purchase my new pair. *angelic music plays*.  Ah yes.  The shops here are amazing. Within walking distance there is a Tiffany’s, Bvlgari, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston, Burberry … and … 7 For All Mankind.  Not to mention a handful of others stores I would choose to go bankrupt in.

We were out shopping Sunday evening, and I knew just where to head.  As I walked into the store I made a bee line for the stack of denim.  I touched the jeans, feeling their soft fabric between my fingers.  I read the description tags, one by one, until I found “slim flare”.  I filed through the pile, searching for the perfect size, and there – among the beauty that is denim, sat my jeans.  I quickly tried them on, emitting glee and joy! Sam approved of the fit, and off to the counter I went. The clerk rang them up, 40% off, “hooray” I shouted! I handed the sales women my money, and she handed me my perfect jeans, tucked neatly in a small shopping bag.  I walked out of that store thrilled I had found my new favorite pair of jeans. 

Meanwhile, Sam was shaking his head at how much I had spent on the dang things, even on sale! But it didn’t matter … I had my jeans. Finally.

I might wear them in the pictures tomorrow … I think it’s only appropriate.

Ok, so the other activity I must get to, is the moped rental.  And if you mention this to me outside this blog, I will not speak of it . And I am not kidding. 

Don’t talk to me about it.  But you will probably see my scars at some point and wonder, so I will tell you now, once.

We rented mopeds and they had to be returned sunday.  Well, Sam and I decided to use the last hour and just tour around the island.  We had been gone a while and decided it was time to head back.  Sam had been out earlier fishing with Kimball and knew some back roads to take.  Well, to cut to the chase – we came to a big hill, stopped to check for traffic, and proceeded to make a right hand turn.  The hill was huge and I apparently gunned it, lost control, and toppled over. Ok more a less ran into a curb.  I tried to exit the moped before I fell over, but ended up scraping my hands pretty bad … and my toes, and my knee, and my hip, and my shoulder. I know! Stupid! Kimball asked how could I fall over on a moped and I just don’t know. But I am over mopeds.  I totally do not need to rent one ever again.  I will just go tandem with my husband. Ugh.

Anyway, back to bliss. The water it warm, the view is gorgeous, and the weather is to die for. I truly love vacationing in Hawaii, it never gets old!

 Hau’oli Makahiki Hou “Happy New Year”


Candy Covered Pretzels

This year I opted for some more personal Christmas presents, and let’s be honest, more budget friendly.  Seeing as the only crafty thing I care to accomplish these days involves the kitchen – I knew I wanted to make and edible gift!

I headed off to JoAnn’s to find my inspiration. Lucky for me I started shopping weeks before Christmas and had found an overabundance of gifts to choose.  It all started with a rectangular tin.

Adorable right? And what was to go in this tin you might ask? Well, let me show you!

Oh yea! Now, I wont lie.  When I thought of the pretzel idea and saw this box, I was terrified! Look at how many different colors that Santa is made of! And he has pupils, PUPILS, people.

I saw the box, got scared, and ran away. But after circling the store about 4 times and not finding anything else – I realized this had to be it.  This was what I was going to buy and give as a gift – and it was going to be a challenge … but I was so ready. Bring it on little candy morsels,

So I get home, unpack everything, and set-up shop.

Turns out the process isn’t as easy as the concept (I did have a reason to justify my early stages of terror!). Buuuuut, after several hours of beginning this adventure and experiencing intense back pain … I think I got the hang of it.

Basically you melt the candy discs (which are vanilla in flavor) in the piping bags in the microwave at 50% power for about 30 seconds and then 15 second increments, massaging the candy until its smooth.  You then cut the tip of the baggy and pipe away.

The tricky part was getting color where I wanted it. At first I just used one color, but then got more and more comfortable. You fill the molds half way (tapping the molds to release any air bubbles), insert the pretzel rod, and then fill the rest of the mold.

Sounds simple, but it took a lot of patience, time, and steady hand movement! Ha.

I ended up puting a white paper towel under the molds so as to be able to see all the little crevices – I have light countertops, but you may not have this issue.

Another kicker – you have to keep the candy warm! Otherwise the piping gets really hard to do – literally. As it cools it hardens, obviously.  I am pretty sure my microwave hated me this day – I was using it about ever 7 minutes I bet!

Once I started the little present molds, I fell in love! I don’t know what it was about that little mold, but piping in the ribbon became such an enjoyable challenge for me! Here is a view from the inside:

When you are done with your little molds, put them in the fridge to chill.  And let them hang out in there for a while.  They really need to set.  I pulled some out too early and two things happened: First – they fell apart, which is heart breaking, and secondly – the chocolate doesn’t dry to it full potential – shiny! If you don’t let them sit long enough they come out looking kind of … weird.

So after a few trial and errors, I got the hang of it and I was on my way to some fun home-made Christmas gifts!

I then sorted one of each style that I had made, along with an adorable mini gingerbread man cookie cutter, into the tins and voila!

The lefts overs I then put into cute little baggies, arranged in a vase – and had sitting out at our Christmas Party.

So there you have it – not so terrifying after all. :)

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone, I hope you all have a happy and blessed New Year!

Roasted Chicken

Have you kids missed me?! It’s been a bit hasn’t it?! This Christmas season just has me running around so chaotically! I have wanted to bake/cook something and post about it everyday, but finding the time to do everything it takes to have a good blog has just been null.  At least everything it takes to do MY food blog ;) You know I like to ramble and tell stories, I can’t just put up a picture and recipe!

Any-who! Who is jazzed about Christmas?! I totally am, mostly because I leave for Hawaii in less that  week! Yes!

But, I digress – right now we are talking birds/chicken/poultry – whatever you wanna call it! A few days ago I made this delicious treat. I had been to Costco that morning and saw two whole chickens for a reasonable price. I heart Costco, seriously.  Plus they sell Tillamook Cheese

It’s a Oregon thing … but I do recommend trying it – FANTASTIC!

Ok, so got the chickens at Costco and was super pumped to cook the bird.  I spent a good 30 minutes searching for a simple but classic roasted chicken recipe and when I found it, I knew it was the one! And I am so sorry to disappoint – but I lost the recipe, uggggh! I KNOW! I’m a failure! But, it was pretty basic for whole roasted chickens. 

From memory – here is what I think I did … (I didn’t take pictures of the process b/c that would take way too long with washing my hands in between touching the chicken and picking up the camera, whoa bacteria!)

Gutted the thing. So gross. The innards were not in a nice little baggy, I had to do it myself.  But it wasnt as bad as boning a whole chicken.  I have yet to accomplish that – you’re waaay ahead of me Julie! (Julie & Julia, fantastic movie!) After removing the lovelies, rinse chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. 

Preheat oven to 375.  Peel two carrots, cut in half length wise, and then chop in half.  Sprinkle some onion powder, salt, and pepper inside cavity. Place carrots in cavity with 3 Tbsp. butter.

Then, the recipe called for herbs and then butter on the chicken, but I didn’t think that was the right order, so I flipped it.  Oh, and the recipe called for celery, not carrots. But all I had were carrots, totally acceptable. :) So rub chicken with either a half or full stick of butter, whichever you prefer.  Make sure butter is completely room temperature, it will spread better.  Rub that oily goodness into the breast, thighs, wings, everywhere! We want flavor people – get into it! Then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and onion powder. There not magic quantity, you just want a nice even coat. You could absolutely add garlic, or other herbs, but I wanted something simple.

Place in roasting pan, or like me – on top of a wire rack in a shallow pan, and bake for 20 minutes/lb.  If you used enough butter, you can baste the chicken ever now and then with the runoff. Makes for a nice crusty skin!

The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted into its thigh (don’t touch any bones) reads 165 degrees F.  When it reaches that temp, take it out of the oven and let it sit.  This helps with the juices and finishes the internal cooking.

This picture reminds me: you need to close up both the large cavity and neck cavity. I used kabob sticks broken in half.  Just “sew” up the chicken with the loose skin to keep cavity a nice warm pocket!

Serve with green beans and baked potato!

Key Lime Pie

Tomorrow is Monday, oh Monday. We all return back to our offices, our workstations, or mundane life of the “real world.”  But tomorrow at my office we celebrate a birthday! Betsy (my bobbsey twin) had a birthday on Thursday and with so many people out of the office last week, we waited to celebrate until tomorrow.  This could only mean one thing – I made her something! So, while tomorrow I will get up at 5:45 and arrive at the office by 7, go to a few meetings and do some red-lines, and put in my 10 hours – its will all be worth it because come early afternoon, Im eatin’ some pie! Wooo.

I told Betsy to pick anything she wanted and I would make it.  So, she came up with Key Lime Pie.  Good choice I told her.  I’ve never attempted key lime pie, but I was excited to tackle it! She had a recipe that was like double the crust, but couldn’t find it. So I told her I would find one and just double it myself.  Here is the recipe I followed out of my Better Home Cookbook

We start with the crust (I think I always say that, don’t I?!) Anyway, this recipe calls for pastry crust but I wanted to make graham cracker crust.  So I took about 12 whole graham crackers and put them in my super-cute mini cuisinart and ground them to a beautiful powder. Don’t be shy here – were making crumbs and we don’t want big chunks.  Small morsels are more fun to eat and stay together more when cutting/eating.

This makes about 2 cups of crumbs.  Combine crumbs with a heaping half cup of sugar and a whole stick of melted butter. Yum! Then, take a 9″ pie pan and press crust into pan, making sure to get the edges. I sprayed my pan with Pam beforehand just to be on the safe side. The butter in the crumbs should be enough though.

 Sorry for the awful pictures. I’m working on getting a new camera. And by working I mean constantly reminding Sam that I want one. Ha.

Throw the graham cracker crust in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 4 minutes. When that 4 minutes hits, your kitchen will smell like sweet.buttery.goodness!

Next we move onto the key lime filling! :) Separate 3 eggs yolks into a bowl, but save the whites for later.  Those will be used in our meringue.

After you’ve beaten the eggs with a fork, pour in the condensed milk and continue to mix.

After that is combined, add your lime juice.  I opted to add fresh lime juice as opposed to the plastic lime things.

Your mixture should have a nice full consistency and a warm yellow color.   You can choose at this point to add green food coloring if you wish.  Go ahead now, pour it in your graham cracker crust.  Did you remember to get it out of the oven?

Bake for 15 minutes at 350.

Now the fun part.  This is where I got a little concerned I would mess up, but I handled myself well I think. Follow these steps and your meringue will turn out just like mine!

In a bowl, beat egg whites, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar until stiff peaks.  You will know you are there when you pull the beaters out of the egg whites and the peaks curl over towards the beaters.

Then, 1 tbsp. at a time, gently pour in 6 tbsp. of sugar until the mixture becomes glossy and smooth.  The meringue with be done when peaks are formed that stand upright.  Be careful not to add too much sugar at one time, this will ruin it and overbeating will cause sweating. So, be patient. Here’s what it should look like.

One way to make sure its done in addition is you want a creamy SMOOTH mixture.  Taste the meringue on the beaters and if you can feel the sugar granules, it’s not done, beat it a little more.  Also, you want to time everything just right so that when the filling is done, from being in the oven, you have just finished the meringue and can spread it on the hot pie immediately.

Make sure to spread the meringue all the way to the edge of the crust to eliminate any separation while its in the oven.  I just “plopped” the meringue on with a butter knife, and then spread it. 

Time to throw this bad boy in the oven.  Lower the temp to 325 and cook for 15 minutes.

Golden brown – I hope Betsy likes it! I can’t wait to bite into it tomorrow.  I’ll take a pic at the office of the slice and post it later.

Oh, and I ended up getting a LOT of limes and made some Lime-Ade.  It’s super easy!  Take equal amounts sugar and water, to create simply syrup, and heat on stove until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into glass with ice and fresh lime juice. Voila – LimeAde! (P.S. – This totally reminded me of my Aunt and Uncle in Oregon. When we visited this summer she had home-made LimeAde as well and it was yummy! I think hers was much better than mine!)