Crawfish Boil

David and I decided to have a crawfish boil. Ok, well, I really wanted to eat crawfish and basically made an excuse to have a spontaneous get together. It was so much fun running around getting everything together, frantically cleaning, and making decorations. We couldn’t ask for better weather and I found my favorite new place in town to get live mudbugs. Austin Seafood Products is the bomb diggity! It was also Damon’s birthday. Happy birthday Damon!

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Southeast Road Trip, Part 2: Birmingham and Memphis

So, not only did we get to do a little bit of climbing, we also visited our good friends Kenny and Yoon, and their two beautiful children Aria and Ian. It was so great spending time with them in their home.

Birmingham:

Yum! Korean food.

David makes sure the cupcake batter tastes juuuuuust right….

Aria did an amazing job of filling the cups!

Ian patiently watches them bake

Mmm sugar before bedtime. The best!

Happy 32, woman!

Pillsbury Funfetti can do no wrong.

Still and always will be…a kid.

Memphis:

Memphis BBQ at the famous Rendezvous!

Graceland

Drive by tourists

Stax Museum in the heart of Soulsville, USA

New Years sampler at Boscos

Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream Frosting!

I’ve been wanting to try making Guinness cupcakes after I stumbled upon one of my now favorite cooking/food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I have to admit, they were so much fun to make with my mom, and they came out so delicious. Don’t ask me how many sticks of butter we put in there! (I skipped the ganache filling, but I can imagine it’s amazing) See recipe below.

Taste tester approved!

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes (Smitten Kitchen)

While the Guinness in the cake gets mostly baked out, the Baileys is fresh and potent, so if you’re making this for people who don’t drink — ahem, nobody I know, but I hear such people exist — you’ll probably want to swap it with milk.

The Baileys frosting recipe makes a smallish amount of frosting — enough to just cover the cupcakes. Because they were so rich and this frosting so sweet, I felt it only needed a little. Double it if you want more of a towering effect.

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little “poofs” everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)

Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving in Austin with our very good friends Alison and Erwin (who, by the way, recently got ENGAGED!) Here are a few pics to document our exhausting time in the kitchen. Totally worth it! We are so thankful to have such wonderful friends who like to EAT! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

The beginnings of my roasted butternut squash soup

Googling “stuffin’ muffin recipe”

David thinks this part is the most fun

Chris and Greg’s riced potatoes

Erwin’s green bean casserole

My final plating of the soup

Erwin’s perfectly moist turkey. SO GOOD!

Way too excited about chowing down

The aftermath part one

The aftermath part two

Time to work off those calories!

Albuquerque

David and I spent four beautiful days in Albuquerque visiting David’s aunt and uncle, and mom and dad (they came down from Wisconsin). It was a family reunion of sorts, complete with an early Thanksgiving feast! Fall colors were in full effect all over the city with bright yellow cottonwood trees lining the streets against the crisp deep blue skies. We drove through the Cochiti pueblo, hiked up Tent Rock National Monument, went to a winery, ate green chile EVERYTHING, and spent some quality time with family. I’m looking forward to going back next October to catch the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!

Wine tasting at Casa Rodena. We got a bottle of Clarion and Viognier.

Mom and Dad Schulze. Aren’t they cute?

Ketel One martinis and garlic stuffed olives

Slot Canyon

David carves up Mr. Turkey
My contribution! Butternut squash bisque
Cardamon sweet potatoes
Kale and italian sausage stuffing
Sunrise over the Sandias Mts (from the back porch!)
A daily occurence in this town…
Flying Star Cafe roof and the gorgeous NM sky
The RIDICULOUS pastry case at Flying Star Cafe. Please bring FSC to Austin!!

Joyce Chen Spiral Slicer

Ever since David and I ate at the Raw Food Bar at Whole Foods Market, I’ve been obsessed with slicing veggies into spaghetti-like spirals. I’ll spiralize anything I can get my hands on!! I made beet “pasta” with stir-fry vegetables and they were so fun. I’ve also made a Japanese cucumber and seaweed salad as well as sweet potato shoestrings. Recipes to come 🙂

I might be returning the spiral slicer for a more industrial one soon if I keep this up!

Detoxing

David’s good friend Ken is an acupuncturist at Georgetown Acupuncture and Herbs. He is leading us and a few others through a 21-day purification program, which basically includes eating whole, organic, and unprocessed foods, and taking whole food supplements. David and I are on day 11, and we’re both feeling pretty good. We’re eating a TON of veggies and avoiding alcohol, caffeine,  sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy, which is somewhat difficult because they are in everything.  The most interesting part about this whole program is that it forces you to be creative with what you eat. Here are few of the things we’ve made in the past week:

Brown rice kim bab

Bean salad, pressed red cabbage salad, brown rice, snap peas

Four year anniversary!

I can’t believe David and I have been married for FOUR years! Time goes by so fast. We celebrated by going to Wink, an amazing restaurant we’ve been talking about go to for years. They pride themselves on utilizing local produce and only the freshest ingredients in their ever-changing daily menu. We made the last reservation for the evening, and we completely closed the place out! We had the 7-course tasting menu and it took us nearly two hours to get through it all! Highlights were the crisp duck breast on orange glazed cippolinis with romano beans and rapini, and tart lemon curd in a crisp meringue cup with candied lemon zest and berries for dessert. YUM. We also got a signed menu from the chef 🙂

Gaudi day at La Pedrera & Parc Guell

woke up at 10, ate, left place at noon, Barcelona time rocks!, headed to La Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s apartment buildings commissioned by a couple who planned to live in one and rent the rest, place is amazing, spent two hours doing the audio tour of the attic, roof, and one apartment, headed down Passeig de Gracia for some lunch, got some tapas & beer at a restaurant, fried cod balls, fish satay things, walked down Las Ramblas, H&M clothes, great gelato, ducked into La Boqueria, headed back feet were fried, had to meet Valerie and David at Parc Guell (pronounced “way”), grabbed our climbing shoes just in case, took train to stop, then walked to park, like hiking San Francisco hills, met them and walked all over, cool place, shame they never really finished it, but definitely popular place with the locals and a good view of town, couldn’t find the bouldering wall, caught a bus to David’s neighborhood to eat at L’Esquinica, got their at 8:45 and had to wait a bit, the place is so good people actually wait, ordered up some beers and claras and David picked out 5 favorites, Kean was getting tired, luckily David’s folks were nearby so they picked him up, we got another round of drinks and 3 more things to eat, stuffed, got the bill, planned to possibly do Montjuic the next night, back home, spent

La Pedrera

Casa Batlló

Best gelato ever on Las Ramblas

Jamón at La Boqueria

Colonnaded footpath under the roadway viaduct, Parc Guell

Gaudi’s mosaics on the ceiling

Gaudí’s mosaic work on the main terrace

David, Valerie, and Kean 🙂

Old vespas everywhere!

Estrellas, Calas, and Tapas at L’Esquinica

Papas Fritas

Pulpo