Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This year for Thanksgiving I had my camera out and was mostly shooting the appetizers, drinks, and desserts.  Everyone knows there's going to be turkey, cranberry sauce, rolls, and stuffing.  It's the way we start and end our meal that's always different and unique from year to year.  Oh, except the pumpkin pie, of course.  Because it just wouldn't seem like Thanksgiving without that.  We started with a Manchego sheep cheese from Spain and fresh pears.  To drink, everyone sampled a white wine, a 2015 Gessami, which was light and went well with the cheese.  There was also salami and pork sliders, which I really liked.  Then after having the main meal, we all filled our plates with several desserts.  The mini pumpkin cheesecakes with chocolate ganache and a fruit tart were delicious.  To end the evening of noshing, there were vanilla lattes made for whoever desired a little espresso. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Caramel Apple Doughnut Muffins

Today I baked Caramel Apple Doughnut Muffins for our Thanksgiving breakfast tomorrow.  I found the recipe in Taste of Home and I was happy with how they turned out.  They are actually sort of healthy.  The muffins contain fresh apple and they are mini muffins, so having a couple of them won't fill me up too much for our big holiday dinner later on.  They resemble mini doughnuts because they are dipped in melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon after coming out of the oven.  There is also a caramel sauce to make that is perfect for dipping the muffins.  They're a special fall treat that will be a perfect start to our Thanksgiving. 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  In another bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and vanilla until blended.  Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened.  Fold in apple.
  2. Fill greased mini-muffin cups three-fourths full.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
  3. Meanwhile, for caramel sauce, in a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar and water; stir gently to moisten all the sugar.  Cook over medium heat, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup turns a medium amber color, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat; gradually stir in warm cream.  Transfer to a small bowl; place bowl in an ice-water bath, stirring frequently until cooled, about 5 minutes.  Remove bowl from ice water. Whisk in creme fraiche, vanilla and salt.
  5. For coating, combine sugar and cinnamon.  Dip tops of warm muffins in butter, then coat in cinnamon-sugar.  Serve muffins with caramel sauce. Yield: 4 dozen (scant 1 cup sauce).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Seattle has a new food delivery company called Gather.  They are a farm to table concept with locally sourced meals delivered to your door.  It's a great alternative to dining out but without forsaking nourishment and flavor.  Plus you don't have to leave your house.  I found the food to be delicious, plus its all made by a professional chef and you can tell.  The quality is there and resembles anything you'd find in a nice restaurant around town.  For doing a review I received three meals.  I chose Rosemary Chicken, Braised Beef Cheeks, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cremeux.  They also threw in a Dry Sparkling Juniper Berry drink.  The Rosemary Chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned and the chickpeas added a nice touch to the dish.  I really enjoyed the Beef Cheeks and found them to be really moist and almost melted in my mouth.  The potatoes and mushrooms were also good and complemented the beef.  Now for the dessert.  The Chocolate and Peanut Butter dessert was one of the tastiest things I've had.  I loved the flake salt on top and it really brought out the flavors.  It was rich, creamy, and the perfect finish to the meal. 
For more info about Gather and to see their menu, click here.      

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dinner at Joey Southcenter and a Peek Inside Round 1

November's date night was dinner at Joey at Southcenter and a walk around the somewhat new Round 1 entertainment area in the mall.  The place was packed and the wait for bowling and Karaoke were hours long.  So we decided to just check it out and call it a night early.   Round 1 was a large space with nice bowling lanes and private rooms for Karaoke.  There was also endless video games.  They serve food and beer for when you're tired and hungry from all the playing.   For dinner at Joey, we each had a drink-a Strawberry Lemondrop for me and an Old Fashioned for the Mr.  We shared the Grande Chicken Nachos and the Chicken Tandoori Flatbread.  Both dishes were tasty but too bad I couldn't burn any of it off bowling!   

Joey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, November 20, 2015

Dinner at Vivo 53

There's a new and high end pizza place in the heart of Bellevue, called Vivo 53.  The reason for the name is that it took fifty three tries to get the pizza perfect.  I'd say they were successful, as the pizza was incredible.  It probably didn't hurt that mine had at least three meats, as you can't go wrong with that.  We started off with cocktails which were handcrafted and delicious.   I could tell thought went into the making and presentation of them.  My husband was in a chicken mood, I guess, and ordered the spicy chicken wings for an appetizer and then the Tuscan Chicken later.  The spicy chicken wings were crispy with a nice coating and the level of spice was right on.  I had the Fried Brussels Sprouts which I enjoyed immensely and probably never liked a vegetable so much.  I enjoyed the ambiance and the feel of the restaurant.  They opened only two weeks ago but are already drawing the crowds.  I liked the large pizza oven which dominates the space.  There's a large bar to the left and a red chandelier towards the back, to add some color to the space and make it pop.  

The Fried Brussels Sprouts were a great start to my meal.  It had capers, parsley, almonds, and red wine vinaigrette.

I loved the spicy chicken wings which were a little nicer then some I've had at pizza places.  I liked how the appetizers and drinks matched the high caliber pizza. 

My Meat Paradiso pizza, which I really liked.  The ingredients were high quality and that makes all the difference. 

The Tuscan Chicken with Arugula and Salsa Verde sauce on the side. 

A fresh Mushroom pizza, just out of the oven. 

Vivo 53 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck Visits Seattle

The Hello Kitty Café Truck is in town for this weekend only.  I found it parked behind the EMP, to celebrate the opening of the Hello Kitty exhibit on display there.  I didn't check out the exhibit but I did get me some sweets from the Hello Kitty Cafe.  It was pouring down rain but I wanted to see the adorable and very pink, Hello Kitty Café Truck, which is actually a Mercedes Van.   Luckily for me, there was only a few peeps in line because of the wet and dark night, I'm guessing.  The "truck" travels around the country and Hello Kitty fans line up for hours, hoping and waiting to get some macaroons, petit cakes, or a t-shirt.  They were sold out of a couple of things so I'm assuming there were tons of people there earlier.  I got some macarons and they were sweet and oh so cute.  But best of all they were delicious.  There were five in the Hello Kitty adorned box, with fillings I'm guessing were chocolate, raspberry, green tea, peach, and vanilla.  The peach one was incredible and tasted like peach cheesecake and the chocolate filling in the blue macaroon was a nice surprise.  The raspberry one which we tried first, was surprising fresh, light, and had actual raspberry seeds.  I didn't expect the macaroons to be so tasty and sweet but its Hello Kitty, and she never lets us down!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Let's celebrate November.  Here in Seattle the leaves are falling, there's a chill in the air, and we are craving pumpkin in all our desserts and drinks.  I couldn't wait until Thanksgiving to have a little pumpkin so today I made some really simple muffins.  Just take one 15 oz. can of pumpkin and one box of either white cake mix or Spice Cake mix and stir them together.  Then you can add either raisins, nuts, chocolate, dried cranberries, or whatever you want.  I added about one cup of raisins since my kids love em'.  Then drop into muffin liners or a greased muffin tin.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes.  I used Mickey Mouse liners to make the muffins more eye catching and cute for my kids.  They barely noticed Mickey and friends and instead tried to eat the liner.  But we all loved the muffins and they make a nice and super easy fall treat.