Sunday, January 31, 2016

Big Mario's Pizza in Queen Anne

Big Mario's Pizza recently opened a second location in Queen Anne recently.  I visited their other place on Capital Hill years ago and remembered the huge slices of pizza, served up fresh, to fill you up and satisfy.  It sounded like the new Big Mario's was going to be more family friendly so I went with my husband and kids to try it out.  They have a full bar in the back and the front is more for families with long, red booths and lots of light from the windows.  It smelled so good when we walked in and I liked seeing them tossing dough in the air.  Nothing like a little ambiance and anticipation to whet the pallet.  We ended up getting four slices, they are huge, so I got one and my little boys shared one.  My husband got two, the Tomato Basil and the Gorgonzola and Pear.  Mine was a slice with pineapple, jalapeƱo, and pepperoni and a slice of pepperoni pizza for my boys.  I loved my slice.  It was hot and fresh and perfectly spicy.  Plus I love the flavor combination of pineapple and jalapeno.  If you've never tried that, you should.  The thing about getting slices, pretty much anywhere, is that it's only really good fresh.  Once pizza that's been sitting out a minute gets reheated, you better eat it quick.  I tried a little of my sons pepperoni slice and it didn't even compare to mine just because it had hardened a little.  My husband's Gorgonzola and Pear slice was awesome, too. That's also a great flavor combo.  Plus you can't beat finding something unique in a pizza topping you've never had before.  Trust me, I've had a lot of pizza!

Big Mario's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ugly Duckling Cake for a Mid-Week Brunch

There's something special and comforting about using recipes from one's childhood.  Especially baking cakes.  Ugly Duckling Cake was a favorite of my family when I was growing up.  I've made it a few times for my husband and he loves it, too.  The ingredients and the name are unsophisticated, it uses a yellow cake mix, a can of fruit cocktail and coconut for the cake part, but the flavors blend deliciously together.  I decided to do a mid-week brunch and have the cake as the sweet element.  I also made scrambled eggs with cheese, turkey sausage, Hawaiian sweet rolls, yogurt and granola parfaits with strawberries, and Pineapple Mimosas.   I kind of planned the brunch around the cake and played up the tropical element a little.  The flavors all went well together and now my sons like the cake, too. 

Ugly Duckling Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 can fruit cocktail
2 1/3 c. coconut
2 eggs
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. evaporated milk

Combine cake mix, fruit cocktail with juice, 1 cup of the coconut and the eggs in large mixing bowl.  Blend; beat at medium speed 2 minutes.  Pour into greased 13x9 inch pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake at 325 degrees  for 45 minutes.  Bring butter, sugar, milk to a boil in small saucepan.  Boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add remaining coconut.  Spoon over hot cake in pan. 
The cake mix, fruit cocktail, and coconut look so pretty together and taste good, too.

The cake is sprinkled with brown sugar and ready to go in the oven.

The cake is all baked and it is time for brunch. 

A cork from a bottle of Cava for our mimosas.

My slice of Ugly Duckling Cake.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Brunch at Ma'ono

I had been awhile since we'd done brunch.  Luckily, Seattle is filled to the brim with brunch options.  It was a rainy Saturday and we were feeling a little bored and house bound.  So it seemed like a good time to eat out and grab some brunch from a restaurant we've never been to.  Sometimes just experiencing a new place, like a restaurant, can help you beat the winter blues by mixing up your routine a little.  We decided on Ma'ono in West Seattle because their menu looked good and there were several dishes we wanted to try.  It was a packed house when we arrived and I didn't think to make a reservation.  Good thing for us several tables were getting up so we only had to wait fifteen minutes.  Our children were acting up and continued to the whole meal.  The servers were gracious though and nobody seemed too upset by their behavior. 

The food at Ma'ono is Hawaiian style with a large whiskey menu.  They also have fried chicken, which you have to make a reservation for ahead of time.   We started with some Apple Malasadas (doughnuts) which were covered in cinnamon and sugar and arrived with a small pot of vanilla cream for dipping.  We also had the Warm Portuguese Sweet Rolls with Nutella.  I loved both starters and I think brunch should have its share of sweet to match the savory.  Brunch should also have cocktails, so my husband and I also got a drink.  He had a Bloody Mary and I had "The Crush" a cocktail with brandy, pressed apple cider-honey syrup, sparkling wine and frozen grapes. 

Then for our main dishes he had the Tostadas which had fried eggs, crispy corn tortillas, black beans, iceberg lettuce, coconut chutney, cotija, and sriracha sour cream.  Our boys shared a small bowl of rice and then helped me eat my Coconut-Fruit French Toast, my main dish.  I'm still thinking about that French toast because it was so delicious and unique.  There's a reason some restaurants are always packed, because the flavors are original and just plain tasty.  I really liked the pineapple on top with the coconut shavings.  The coconut butter, served on the side to pour over the top, was also memorable and really good.  Ma'ono means flavor and they live up to their name. 

Ma'ono Fried Chicken & Whisky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, January 22, 2016

How to make a Cuban Sidecar

If you feel like drinking something different in the new year and you've never had a Cuban Sidecar, then I recommend making one at home or ordering one the next time you go out.  This cocktail is simple to make and very refreshing.  A Cuban Sidecar is different from a regular Sidecar because it contains rum, triple sec, and either lime or lemon juice.  A Sidecar has cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.  The Cuban Sidecar reminds me of a Lemon drop Martini but with lime, which I love.  You can have it with a sugared rim or without, depending on what you're in the mood for.  Some of us are so sweet already, we don't need any more sugar, am I right? If you wish to make a Cuban Sidecar, grab a martini glass and chill it.  Then, fill a shaker with ice cubes.  Next, pour one shot of light rum, one shot of lime juice, and one shot of triple sec into your shaker.  Shake it up and strain into your glass.  Cheers!
My Cuban Sidecar, made at home, for a night in.

We used Bacardi light rum and triple sec.  Silly me, I forgot to put the lime in the background, too!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Wedding Date Night

I love weddings but I'm usually working at them.  I'm taking photographs of the bride and groom, all the beautiful details, the wedding party, the guests, and the list goes on.  So when we received an invitation from a family friend whose son was getting married, we looked forward to attending as guests and sitting back and enjoying ourselves.  So we got a babysitter and called it a date night.  I had to sit on my hands a bit at the reception as photographs weren't allowed but I found plenty of detail shots at the reception to take.   The ceremony was at a church in Renton and I loved the high ceilings and the lights they hung to make it special.  Then the reception was held at the Doubletree Hilton in Tukwila.  My husband and I had a couple of cocktails from the no-host bar and nibbled on some appetizers of eggrolls and meatballs while we waited for the bride and groom to arrive.  Then it was time for a dinner buffet of prime rib, salad, veggies, rice pilaf, salmon and shrimp pasta, and more.  Then we had to cut out early and get home to relieve the sitter and get the little ones to bed.  We had just enough time to take a sip of champagne and congratulate the happy couple!  No wedding cake for us, but sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it too! 

The bride and groom's special transportation to their reception waits outside the church as guest make their way outside.  

A White Russian for me to get the party started.

The centerpieces at the reception.

The appetizer buffet of eggrolls and meatballs.

A Cosmo to pair with my dinner.

Time to eat some dinner!

A glass of Champagne to toast the bride and groom!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dim Sum at Grand Jumbo

A fun aspect of having kids is introducing them to different cuisines and watching their displays of delight when they enjoy it.  They've had Chinese food and they love Sweet and Sour Chicken and Broccoli Beef.  Okay, maybe just the beef part, we're working on that.  But today they tried Dim Sum at Grand Jumbo, small plates of food which the servers have on carts and they wheel around your table.  You can decide what you want and if you miss something, someone will come around again.  My boys were a little hesitant at first and then really got into the whole idea and ended up eating more than me.  They didn't want to leave.  I think they wanted to sit there all afternoon and eat Fish Congee with the oversized spoons.  It was cute but I may be biased.   I think I could have sat there all day eating Egg Tarts and sipping tea, too.

Pork Potstickers were the first item we tried.

The Baked Pork Buns.

These Shrimp Dumplings or Ha Gow are a Dim Sum item I've always liked.

The Taro Root Dumplings are one of my husband's favorites.

All four of us enjoyed the Egg Tarts!

My favorite Dim Sum dish, the Fried Shrimp Balls.

Another favorite dish of my husband's is the Beef Rice Noodle Roll.

The Fish Congee which my kiddos loved so much.

Grand Jumbo Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato