From Cupcakes to Traditional Korean Food and Everything in Between

August Goals

It’s been about 2 months since we moved to the island and though J seems to have comfortably settled in, there’s still a trace of me that almost feels like I’m visiting.  I figured a quick little list of goals would help me gain more perspective.

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1). Be more grateful.  Every night, J and I have this ritual where we share one thing we’re grateful for.  I began thinking about this the other day and realized that it shouldn’t be whittled down to just one moment but expanded into a conscious philosophy to be as grateful as you can throughout each and every day.

2). Make new friends.  There are a lot of retired folks here and inevitably, we’ve befriended a ton of new friends that are much older than we are.  Though I’ve enjoyed their company, it would be nice to have friends my own age too.

3).Spend a day {or several} picking up litter off the beach.  Back in Charlotte, anyone who was visiting would always comment on how clean the city was.  Perfectly manicured lawns and rows of wildflowers, not trash, were commonplace there.  Because in the summer, the town we now live in attracts a ton of tourists, the beach is often strewn with all sorts of rubbish and it makes me unhappy to see all the natural beauty being polluted.  I will say that the sea turtle activists are a strong force here and I’d love to see a bold clean up initiative as well.

4). Take time to stretch.  I exercise a lot of healthy habits {and my share of unhealthy ones as well} but one that seems difficult to maintain is stretching.  Going forward, I’d like to take more time out to stretch and reset.

5). Make birthday plans!  Mine is rolling around next month and because of all the recent changes, we haven’t had much time to slow down and hopefully, my birthday will be a moment to walk at a more leisurely pace {and maybe by then, I’ll finally feel like I live here, lol}!

What are some of your short term goals?

Love,

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Pineapple Flowers

The very first time I ever sank my teeth into a hummingbird cake, I recall gleefully devouring what I figured to be a fancy banana cake.  Though not entirely false, it’s a quintessentially southern confection studded with banana, pineapple and toasted pecans.  The crowning of fluffy cream cheese frosting sets it off and nestled on top you’ll find an edible dried pineapple flower to admire and enjoy.

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Pineapple Flowers

5.0 from 3 reviews
Hummingbird Cupcakes with Pineapple Flowers
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ c unbleached flour
  • ½ ts baking soda
  • ¼ ts fine salt
  • 1 c ripe mashed banana
  • ½ ts cinnamon
  • ¼ ts nutmeg
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • ½ c drained crushed pineapple
  • ½ c oil {veggie, canola, grape seed, coconut}
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • 1 ts pure vanilla extract
  • ½ c toasted chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 16 oz soft cream cheese
  • 2-3 c *sifted* confectioners sugar
  • 1 ts pure vanilla
  • ¼ ts fine salt
Pineapple Flowers
  • 1 ripe thinly sliced pineapple
Instructions
  1. In the first bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In the second bowl, combine the banana, spices, and brown sugar. Allow this to sit for 5-10 minutes and add the pineapple, oil, egg, and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Toss the pecans into the first bowl.
  4. Slowly mix the first and second bowl together until just combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Fill vessels and bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.
  6. For the frosting, whip everything together until fluffy.
  7. For the flowers, peel the pineapple and extract any visible blemishes. Slice it as thinly as you can. Sprinkle with just a touch of salt on each side and allow it to weep out any excess moisture for 15 minutes. Thoroughly blot each slice and brush off any remaining salt and lay on a single layer to dry out in the oven at 250 for at least an hour, flipping halfway.
  8. To set, dry each warm pliable slice into a muffin tin.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

Coconut Macaroons

There are several reasons I enjoy these cookies.  First, I’m a fan of all coconut products. Then, there’s the fact that they’re slightly crisp on the edges yet soft and chewy in the center. Plus, they’re easy peasy, just using one bowl and come together in no time at all. Try these today because you’re only 15 minutes away from start to finish.

Easy Coconut Macaroons {Cookie Recipe}

5.0 from 2 reviews
Coconut Macaroons
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz room temperature egg whites
  • 1 ts pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ ts fine salt
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 2½ c un/sweetened coconut {either works}
Instructions
  1. Whip the egg whites until they get frothy then add the vanilla, salt and slowly add the sugar. Whip again until it gets glossy and achieves soft peaks.
  2. Carefully fold in the coconut in 2-3 additions.
  3. Scoop onto parchment/silpat {I used a mini scoop} and bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.
  4. Cool and drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

Weekend Bits

This weekend marked an epic one as my entire immediate family came to visit.  This was a rare and happy occasion since one of my brothers lives in Seattle.  He also brought his fiancée with him whom I’d never met.  On top of that, we were celebrating my mama’s birthday!  Needless to say, I was brimming with excitement!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mama’s specially requested birthday soup {meuntang}

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The birthday cake {raspberry cheesecake}

pasta

J’s stuffed ravioli.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We spent a great deal of time fishing and these were the fruits of our labor.  We caught shrimp, crab, and clams and turned it into a massive seafood boil for supper one night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Daddy grew up in a fishing town and he’s definitely got the magic touch.  He was so lucky that he even found one while we were swimming.  To the left is mom rubbing her finger because she got too close to the crab.  If I owned a fish eye lens, I could have captured all the chuckling faces.

dave

When we weren’t fishing, we were rocking on the porch watching the sun set and listening to baby brother strum his guitar, gobbling lots of homemade treats and playing my new favorite game.

One of those lazy afternoons, we all discovered these growing right in my backyard.

1 Muscadines and walnuts!  So guess who’s as excited as a kid on Christmas morning?!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We also took a ferry to one of my favorite places in the world, the aquarium.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My sweet future sister-in-law.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I miss y’all already!

Love,

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

J will be the first to tell you that I’m incapable of exercising moderation, particularly when it comes to good eats.  I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  Case in point?  These 3 layer brownies.  Homemade salted caramel sauce {a recipe that only takes 3 minutes, by the way} gets generously oozed over the salty bite of crunchy pretzels with a base of rich, dark chocolate brownies.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies Recipe

5.0 from 3 reviews
Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
Brownies
  • 1½ c unbleached flour
  • 1 c good, unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 1 ts fine salt
  • 2 sticks soft, unsalted butter
  • 1 c brown sugar + 2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tb vanilla extract
  • ½ tb instant coffee
  • 4 room temperature eggs
Salted Caramel
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • ½ c half and half
  • 4 tb unsalted butter
  • 1 ts salt
  • ½ ts vanilla extract
Pretzels
Instructions
  1. In the first bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. In the second bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Blend in the vanilla, coffee, and eggs to the second bowl, adding the eggs one at a time.
  4. In thirds, sprinkle the first bowl into the second, mixing just to combine.
  5. Pour into a well greased pan and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
  6. For the caramel sauce, combine everything together and heat until it gets thick and smooth. Cool at room temperature or in the fridge until ready to use. {Check the link above for a step by step video on this caramel sauce}
  7. To assemble, line the top of the cooled brownies with pretzels then generously drizzle with caramel sauce.

And if you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my chocolate ganache mint brownies or my paleo brownies for a healthier option ;)

Love,

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

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