Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

Today it truly feels as though spring has arrived in Minnesota. The sun is shining and there are big puddles all along the sidewalks...the girls had quite the time with those on our walk today :) Today, hubs and I took my mom out for lunch for four reasons: 
1. To say happy early birthday. 
2. To say thanks for watching the dogs while we were in Florida. 
3. To try Hello Pizza!
4. Because she is the best. 

1. Birthday/thank you/you're-the-best flowers. 

2. Our table number. We ordered a bunch of things and shared. The food was divine and the atmosphere is simple, bright, and happy. Pictures and more details coming soon. 

3. Saturday afternoon nap patrol. Apparently walking around the block is enough to knock both of them out. Bailey, ever hopeful, brought her ball over...just in case he wakes up and wants to play. 

Happy sunny Saturday to you all, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Friday, March 29, 2013

Champagne and Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

If that post title doesn't say romance-on-a-tray, I don't know what does :) After a few days and many ice cream cones in Fort Myers, FL, the hubs and I headed to Marco Island, FL, for a few days to celebrate our wedding. Much to our surprise, my parents had arranged for this wonderful treat to be sent to our room. Marco Island has been a long-time vacation spot for our family, and included with the champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries was an incredibly thoughtful note about the great memories our family had already made there and wishes for making new ones of our own. Thanks mom and dad for being so wonderful. 

The decadent tray, complete with rose petals. 

A variety of chocolate-dipped strawberries and hazelnut-chocolate clusters. I love the textural elements of the different strawberry coatings. The coconut-dark-chocolate combo was my favorite.  This dessert display speaks to the impact that a simple, white serving dish (particularly one that fits the food perfectly) can have on the overall visual appeal of food.  


What could make champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries better? Getting to appreciate the beauty that is the ocean at sunset. 

Sending you all wishes for love and great dessert, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sun Harvest Citrus: Fort Myers, FL

Last week, we made many a trip to Sun Harvest Citrus while staying in the Fort Myers, FL, area. This gem is a life-long favorite of the hubs and is a must if you are in the area for spring-training (or any other reason).  It is a pretty popular spot these days, and they even have their own postal service that allows them to ship citrus, key lime pies, and gift baskets around the country. While you might find a line, it moves quickly, and the ice cream is worth the wait. 

The Sun Harvest Orange. Isn't that a happy (and plump) sight?

My ice cream of choice. Key Lime-Chocolate Twist. The Orange-Vanilla twist is another fan-favorite. 

Oodles upon oodles of oranges and grapefruit. 

A fave feature: the juice samples. If you are a strategic sun-harvester, you'll keep one person in line, while the other hits up the juice samples. My favorites are the strawberry-orange and the lemonade. 

The hubster's favorite is straight-up orange. 

A bonus detail: oranges on the fence posts. Super cute. 

As I type this, my husband is trying to discourage me from publishing this post because "I don't want anyone else to know about it...then I get all the ice cream." I'm fairly certain there is enough to go around, so spread the citrus love and check out Sun Harvest if you find yourself in the Fort Myers area. 

Cheers to looking back on great vacation memories. Double cheers to MN temperatures getting up into the 50s this week. The warmth and sunshine is making its way north, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

Today marks the end of a fun vacation week in sunny Florida.  It has been a fun week escaping the brutal MN temperatures, enjoying being outside, and eating some delicious food...but I am happy to be heading home today to see my girls and family. Although I took the week off from blogging, I did snag some great photos of a few favorite spots down here, so expect some Florida-fied posts in the coming week. It will be nice to reminisce on what it felt like to be warm once I am back in the still-winter tundra.  For now, here are a few sneak preview vacation photos. 

1. It's pretty hard not to love that face. TC at a Twins spring training game. 

2. This fellar keeping us company on the fourth hole.  A little extra motivation not to hit your golf ball in the water. 

3. This view of the ocean in Marco Island. The hubs and I spent a few days in Marco to celebrate our wedding and got to stroll alongside the ocean each day...heavenly. 

Hope you had a great week, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

This weekend marks the beginning of spring break for the U, meaning vacation from work and grad school for me :) Last night, we headed south for warmer FL temperatures...naturally, MN bade us a warm goodbye via freezing rain and snow. Minny, I love you...but, we need some time apart. 

1. A thank you "stack" for my mom who is spending time with our pooches while we are out of town. 

2. A pre-departure snack, stove top-popped popcorn with butter and sea salt. One of my favorites. 

3. A surprise gift, just in time for St. Patrick's Day! A very happy tea towel. Thanks, T!

4. An airport indulgence. 

5. Eating breakfast on the lanai. 

6. Getting to watch Pelican Patrol. 

Happy weekend dabblers. Hope yours is filled with a few moments of vacation-like feelings and sunshine. 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Monday, March 11, 2013

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips

Just looking at the picture is already making me crave this coffee cake again! Chocolate, strawberries, and cream cheese in one delicious could it be wrong? As mentioned here, over the weekend I got together with friends for a potluck brunch.  Out of "I don't have time to go to the store, what do I have in the house?" necessity, this recipe was born. The results were wonderful and this coffee cake could easily work for a dessert as well (especially with a little powdered sugar glaze- yum!).
Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp finely-ground sea salt
1 15oz package frozen strawberries, sliced
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips 

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, butter, and sugar until consistency is light and fluffy. 
3. Incorporate greek yogurt, eggs, and vanilla at low speed until well-combined. 
4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
5. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients at low speed until just combined. 
6. Spread half the dough into the bottom of your baking dish. *This dough is very thick. I found it easiest to spoon the dough into the dish and then spread it into an even layer using a butter knife. 
7. Top the first dough layer with the sliced strawberries and chocolate chips. 
8. Cover the strawberry and chocolate layer with the second half of the dough. *I used the same scoop-and-spread method for the second layer. Don't worry about perfectly covering everything. 
9. Bake at 350F for approximately 40 minutes, until the outside crust is golden brown. 
10. Enjoy :)

Process Photos:

Steps 6 & 7. The first layer of dough covered in strawberries and chocolate.

Step 8. Covering the strawberry/chocolate layer with the second half of dough. Again, no need to get it perfect...a few pieces of chocolate and strawberry sticking out helps people know what kind of deliciousness they are in for :)

Step 9. The finished product in all of its golden-brown goodness. 

If you have a brunch coming up, or are looking for a morning treat for yourself, this recipe would be a great one to work into your usual rotation. What are your favorite go-to brunch recipes?

Have a great week, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

This morning, I got together with friends for a potluck brunch. We planned it last weekend and I have been looking forward to seeing them and enjoying all the delicious food all week. As you can see, it was a hodgepodgery of yumminess, with everyone bringing whatever they were craving and/or had the ingredients for in their fridge. My favorite mid-week planning message from a friend: "I will bring chocolate milk! (because I am a child)."  You all know how I feel about chocolate milk, so I was delighted by its appearance at the table. 

1. The whole spread. 

2. My brunch contribution: Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips. This was a new recipe and I really liked the way it turned out, so look for a post with the details this week. The hubs really liked that there were a few extra pieces left over after brunch. He gave it a thumbs up too. 

3. Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake. Yum :)

4. A brunch favorite and staple: cheesy potatoes. 

5. Egg bake filled with veggies, Italian sausage, and cheese. Great flavors. 

Happy Saturday. Hope it's a great one :)

-The Delicious Dabbler

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sushi at Sakura

My dad and I have a standing tradition of going out for sushi as a Christmas present. This year, travel/work/grad school schedules extended the holiday season into March :) Sometimes, delayed-gift giving is much more fun because it gives you something to look forward to at an unexpected time. I also love experiential gifts overall, with foodie experiences high at the top of the list. Plus, my dad is amazing and getting to spend time with him while enjoying a meal together is the best thing. 

Our favorite sushi place in Minnesota is Sakura in downtown St. Paul. Prepare for a sushi montage, with a few bonuses at the end...

1. Hot green tea in earthy mugs.

2. Wasabi shumai.  Steamed rice-paper dumplings infused with wasabi and filled with shrimp and pork. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice takes these over the edge.

3. Goma-Ae. Boiled spinach, served cold, and topped with sesame sauce and seeds. I could eat order upon order of this. So delicious.

3. Maguro sashimi.

4. The Number Nine Roll. I loyally order this delicious creation every time we go to Sakura. Shrimp tempura on the inside with salmon and avocado on the outside, topped with eel sauce.  Also pictured, the special roll that night: Spicy salmon hand roll.

5. Mochi for dessert. Vanilla and strawberry ice cream surrounded by a sweet rice cake. 

6. If you are a fan of ginger, I highly recommend the green salad with house ginger dressing. My dad and I each had one, but in my utter excitement, I forgot to document it. The dressing is that good. 

And now, the bonuses.
You  may be wondering,  'How do sushi and Irish literature go together in a post'? After dinner, we headed over to the St. Paul Library where the lovely Irish power couple Paddy O'Brien and Erin Hart (read more about them here, and here) were doing a book reading for each of their newly-released books. My dad and I have each read Erin's 3 previous mysteries and loved them. I can't wait to dive into both of these books over spring break. An additional note, Paddy is an absolutely amazing musician and I am particularly excited to read his stories about developing his passion for music. He played at our wedding in November along with two other wonderful musicians, and it was the most special thing.

Happy Friday, happy sushi-eating, and happy reading dabblers!

-The Delicious Dabbler 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

I have declared this day to be "Self-care Saturday" and am filling it with things that recharge, rejuvenate, and in general just make my smile. Small things that are bringing happiness to me today:

1. Getting up to the gym for 9:15am spin class with my favorite instructor. He plays the best music and the workout is killer. I got a bike in this wonderful sunbeam and was able to bask the whole class.

2. Post-spin breakfast. Swiss muesli from our co-op topped with sliced apples, raisins, and cinnamon.

3. My little love. Always hopeful that a game of fetch is in her near future. After composing this post, we are headed to the dog park. More sunshine and more smiles as I watch our dogs frolicking around and getting great exercise.

4. After the dog park, T (hubster) and I are campus-bound. We are taking in the final Gopher basketball home game today. The picture above is from Tuesday's win over #1-ranked Indiana. Look closely for a bonus laugh (Dwight's face). 

Wishing you a great weekend, filled with many small self-care moments. 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Ps. Happy birthday to my beautiful sister in law. Sending extra love to you today!