Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! I found a recipe for Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes in the October 2011 Everyday Food Magazine. Leave it up to Martha to create a dessert using leftover candy! These clever and addictive cupcakes were my contribution to our Halloween pre-party this weekend. I will be making them year-round with different seasonal toppers. These are so, so yummy and the best part is that you don't have to frost them!

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes 


1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter
6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk (I faked it with 1 tablespoon white vinegar and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mini Reese's Cups
Candy Corn

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Popping Bottles

In anticipation of Halloween weekend I asked Bryce to get apple cider at the store. For the second year in a row he's purchased sparkling cider - you know, the kind in the champagne bottle. I had the big plastic jug of cider in mind. I don't know what his deal is with that but sparkling cider is still festive and delicious and I'll take it!

So, I took said sparkling cider and put it in the freezer with the other "fun" drinks (vodka and Bailey's) and went on with my day. HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You can't do that, Ang.

The next day I opened my freezer to this:

It gives "popping bottles" a whole new meaning!

Thankfully it was frozen and fairly easy to clean up. What was I thinking?!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brunch at the Plumeria Beach House

The "Bitches Who Bunch" got together again for a morning at the Plumeria Beach House in the Kahala Resort. We had a relaxing meal and enjoyed each others company and the fantastic view. 

Before we talk food, take a look at some of the perks of the Kahala.
Here's the outdoor portion of the Plumeria Beach House, just one of the restaurants.

The real dolphins!

Finally, the incredible lobby.

It's gorgeous and over the top, I love it!

Brunch started with the menus that were so unique and perfectly themed with wooden plumeria flowers on the back.

For the first time, Danielle the healthy-food-fanatic joined us! She got this acai bowl that she immediately declared was "so refreshing"! It included bananas, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, granola, and lehua honey. I'm sure it was great but I was ready to indulge!

 The smoked salmon Benedict was very popular. I spy a Bloody Mary in need a of a refill!

Malia opted for the corned beef hash. She swapped the poached a scrambled egg. Please don't let me pretend like I noticed that tiny detail while we were there, I snapped the photos in a hurry and we DUG IN as soon as I gave the green light! Thanks for cooperating ladies. 

There were a couple of omelets, this one partnered with hash browns. I love the individual servings of ketchup!

Another omelet with home fries. 

Anytime we do brunch as a group like this there's always a favorite. Drum roll please... the favorite dish of the Bitches Who Brunch was the "Surf and Turf" Benedict! That's Hawaiian salt grilled beef tenderloin, Alaskan king crab meat, poached egg, and Bearnaise sauce on a toasted English muffin. Maybe they should call it the non-continental states Benedict: Hawaiian Turf and Alaskan Surf! Remember, you heard it here first!

I was one of the kids drinking the Kool-Aid who ordered the most popular dish and I was very happy with my selection. The crab meat was the most delectable touch on the hearty, savory, and creamy dish. My favorite part is when you puncture the yolk of the egg and all hell breaks loose. If they'd cooked the meat just a few seconds less it would have been perfect.

The reason I began this blog is because food gives us such a sense of comfort and a way to enjoy special occasions together. I can't express how WONDERFUL these brunches with our successful, ambitious, loving, and beautiful friends are! It's truly a (loud) chat-fest over (delicious) brunch and (many) drinks.

Honestly, how gorgeous are these women, the outfits, anddddd the view?

For the first time - someone thought ahead and we picked the next date for BWB at the table! We'll see how many we can get together when we plan 7 weeks out.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushroom Stuffing

Let's talk about Sam's Club for just a moment... I love Sam's! I can go in there for one thing and walk out with a cart full of stuff and end up spending $120. The only issue is that I can't eat the produce fast enough and some of it usually ends up rotting away in the bottom drawers of the fridge.  Not. Cool. HAHA fridge joke!

Last week I bought a huge container of mushrooms and wanted to find a way to use them all before we had any mushroom casualties. I consulted my sous chef, Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, and she suggested I make Chicken with Mushroom Stuffing in the slow cooker.  

Disclaimer: This recipe is not one of those quick crock-pot recipes, there's a lot of prep involved before it goes into the cooker so make sure you have some time!

Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushroom Stuffing
from BH&G Cook Book with many adaptations of my own 


1 crock pot liner 
     I love these things and once you use them you can never go back to living without!
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
     I'd recommend using more chicken, our stuffing to chicken ratio was way off.
8 ounces quartered button mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 sourdough baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shredded carrot (2 large carrots)
1 can of chicken broth (15 or 16 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley

Never before have I used a food processor to shred anything, it's great! The 2 ginormous carrots were shredded in no time and none of my fingers were injured.

Start by putting the slow cooker liner inside the pot.  Combine half of the lemon peel with the poultry seasoning, seasoned salt, and pepper. 

Use 3/4 of this mixture (reserving the other 1/4 for later) to rub on the chicken.  Then place it in the cooker.

Now, take your shrooms...

...and cook them in a large skillet over medium along with the butter and garlic.

Do this for about 5 minutes until they're just tender.  Stir in the remaining mixture of poultry seasoning/seasoned salt/pepper/lemon.

Now that baguette - cutting into pieces is pretty tedious but it needs to be done! 

Despite the adorable-ness of that cutting board, it makes a blood curdling noise when a knife touches it and it made the process even worse.

Take your baguette pieces and mix together with the... 

...mushroom mixture...

...and the carrots.  Oops, that bowl is way too small!

Put the mixture back into the pan and mix there, where there's more space :) Drizzle with broth and toss to combine.

Pack the stuffing on top of the chicken in the cooker and turn that baby on!  The recipe calls for 4 to 5 hours of cooking on high, but surely you can turn it on low for a longer period of time if that's what your schedule allows. I cooked ours on high for 4 hours.

 But wait, you're not done yet... I warned you! You need to toast the walnuts. [Spread them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 - 7 minutes. Keep your eye on them, they'll burn quickly and can't be salvaged.] Then, mix the walnuts, the remaining lemon peel, and parsley. The warm, toasty walnuts wake up the lemon peel and parsley and this little mixture really smells amazing.

Now, go about your day in peace knowing that dinner's waiting for you at home.

When it's go time, top the dish with the nut mixture and serve!

This dish has a very comforting and cozy feeling to it and it tastes great. Our baguette pieces could have been a little bit smaller and this would be a great way to use up any type of stale bread since the broth moistens the stuffing. The chicken was tender and very flavorful.

This dish is pretty intense compared to most slow cooker recipes. I'd say use a slow cooker liner and serve it on paper plates and you have 0 cleanup work to do! Or, just kindly ask your boyfriend do the dishes since you cooked :)

I bet making this with turkey and adding dried cranberries would be like a mini-Thanksgiving dinner! I'll let you know if I try that, you promise to let me know if you beat me to it?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Tonight I'm babysitting a sweet little girl named Claire. (That's right, I downloaded the blogger app for my phone!) Last week she passed up Pizza Hut to eat yogurt! Seriously? People have cults dedicated to secretly adding healthy foods in their kids food and she WANTS yogurt!

Tonight we had macaroni and cheese for dinner. Before it was ready she inhaled 2 servings of raspberries and wanted blueberries next! Parents - do you just let kids eat as much good-for-you foods as they'll take? I'll start taking notes now...

This post is not about the food we ate, but rather the food we made:
Pizza with tomatoes, a t-bone steak, a chicken leg, and broccoli!

It's all Play-Doh! The food options are so cool now. I remember having some contraption that squeezed out something like worms...or spaghetti, depending on my imagination that day.

Of course, before we even opened the cans, Claire exclaimed "I'm gonna eat Play-Doh!" Why is it so appealing to eat? Surely making the food look so cool and realistic doesn't help to deter it. Oh well, nobody ever died from eating too much Play-Doh right?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Bean Soup

Is it just me or is everyone really going nuts over fall's arrival this year?  Like all other seasons, you can't tell the difference here in Hawaii.  That's mostly a good thing, since it never gets cold, but it's also a boring thing.  I have other "mainland" friends here in Hawaii who feel the same way - that we're missing out on the seasons changing!  There's no crisp smell to the air or changing colors to note the arrival of fall, no excitement over the first snow of the year, and no pressure/excitement of shopping for new clothes for the upcoming season.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, just saying that without a calendar it's hard to tell what time of year it is.

That said, I do my best to fake the seasons for my own enjoyment.  Decorating my apartment, scented candles, movies, and making season-appropriate foods are always the best way!  Sunday morning I watched the Steelers game at a restaurant, as I do every week.  When I got home I was inspired to cook and was prepared to make a fall-ish recipe I'd been looking at all week: Pumpkin Bean Soup.

Aloha: Yinz Mangia is the name of this blog, yes, but it's also a description of me!  Hawaii - Pittsburgh - Italy.  That day I was encompassing all three at once: cooking in my apartment (in Hawaii), wearing my Steelers jersey (Pittsburgh), and watching listening to and taking peeks at the Godfather part 2 (Italy).

This recipe is by far the easiest I've made and posted to date.

Pumpkin Bean Soup

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sweet and Savory Love

2011 is officially the year of weddings.  So far this year, Bryce and I have been invited to 8 different weddings!  You may remember John and Brooke's wedding in January and the cookie table I helped to make and Bryn and Melany's wedding with the many creative cakes.   Weddings are always so beautiful, touching, and fun.  Oh yeah - there's always great food, too!

The thing about great couples is that they're a combination of 2 very different people who, despite their differences, compliment each other and get even better when they're together.  Dare I compare love to food?  Forrest Gump says life is like a box of chocolates.  I'm going to say, officially, that marriage is like chocolate covered pretzels.  Pretzels are good - salty, twisty, and crunchy.  Chocolate is good too - creamy, rich, and sweet.  If you get them to commit to each other permanently, in a melting and bonding ceremony, they become even better!  It's the combination of savory (salty) and sweet that make chocolate covered pretzels so fantastic and the same combination of 2 different personalities that makes a marriage wonderful.

In 4 weeks we went to two different weddings in Honolulu.  Both brides are my former coworkers. 

The first wedding focused mostly on sweet things, like dessert.  Pink was one of the theme colors, lots of adorable children and even a dog were included, and there was enough candy and dessert to kill Agustus Gloop!  The beautiful bride is Marichris, one of my former coworkers, and her handsome groom is Norman.

Upon entering the ballroom for their reception, we each found a small box at our place setting.  They read "Step right up to the Candy Buffet, It's a fabulous was to end a Wonderful Day!  And as you enjoy your box of treats, Be sure to remember LOVE is sweet."


Look at the amazingly sweet candy buffet!

It was almost too beautiful to ruin by removing candy.  Thankfully we managed!  Could I be any happier?

Let's get a closer look at the buffet: M&M's, Hershey Kisses, sour belts, Dove chocolates, Red Vines, gummy bears, and Oreos!  It's a dentist's worst nightmare.

The best part were the little personal touches from the couple.

They did a great job incorporating their colors and even their engagement photos.

I especially loved the varying sizes of diamonds on the photo holders and scattered across the table.

All of the food was amazing.  Dinner was a never ending buffet of just about everything you could ask for, literally.  The candy buffet was the most spectacular sweet at the wedding, although it was far from the only one.  There was a three-table-long dessert buffet plus wedding cake!  

Congratulations again, Marichris and Norman!  Be sure to always remember that love is sweet, but to always brush your teeth before bed :)

The second wedding was a little bit more savory.  By definition, savory can mean: pleasing to the sense of taste especially by reason of effective seasoning.  Allison and Blake's wedding was beautifully classic, a little more traditional, and seasoned just right to fit their relationship!  The ceremony took place in a gorgeous Catholic Church and the reception at the members-only Pacific Club. 

We got to the reception fairly early and got a sneak peek at all the food we'd soon be devouring!  I wasn't the only one taking photos of our dinner, for a change :)  We begin with some pork.  Vegetarians, close your eyes now.  That's right - an entire pig! 

There were three of these giant displays of shrimp cocktail and crab claws, I could have eaten at least half of one myself!

More meat - look at that beef!  

The little sliders were made from that HUGE hunk of meat and they were delicious!  Also note some sushi on this plate, one of many. 

This Italian girl LOVES pasta and there was a pasta bar :)  Bryce was being a gentleman and filling up the plates for us while I sat around, gabbed with the ladies, and sipped cocktails!  This was a perfect combo of sun-dried tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, and onion with penne and some type of delicious cream sauce. 

It just kept getting better as the night went on, it was incredible!  Chinese chicken salad in little take out boxes, the shrimp and crab I'd been eying all night, and a steamed bun with duck.

There was even more food that I managed to eat but never got a photo of, it happens to the best of us.  The entire night was magical and we savored every moment.  There was a sweet side too... the cake!

Not only was it beautiful, it was chocolate too!  Bryce and I got a piece to share... and got another just one minute later.  The cake was my favorite of all time - chocolate cake and white butter cream frosting.  Ali, I knew you had great taste from the day I met you!

Congratulations Allison and Blake!  Be sure to always savor each others' love and company, even when your partner is being less than sweet :)

If I keep this wedding reception feasting up, I won't fit in any of my dresses by 2012!  We'll see how many weddings we go to next year.  And no, we're not getting married anytime soon - stop asking :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frito "Pie"

Ever heard of Frito "Pie" before?  Didn't think so!  Up until 6 months ago, neither had I.  Bryce's cousin Bryn (who married Melany in May) told us he only knows how to make one dish: Frito Pie.  Our wedding gift of the Williams Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook Set has since helped him add a few more items to his list, right Bryn? 

According to trusty Wikipedia, Frito Pie is made of chili, cheese, and Fritos.  It's popular in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.  It can be a true casserole: Fritos topped with chili, and cheese and baked in the oven.  It can also be a bit more mobile, a Frito "boat": a small bag of Fritos cut open, then topped with the chili and cheese and eaten right from the bag!  Bryce claims he's even seen Frito "boats" at sporting event concession stands before.  To me, it sounds equal parts fun and country and I imagine myself eating it at an Indy car race while wearing jean shorts and a free Bud Light tank!    

Just this week the Pioneer Woman sent out a recipe for Frito Chili Pie (which I promptly shared with Bryce) and we happened to have ground turkey meat on hand.  Last night, Frito "Pie" was on the menu and our friends Steve and Christine came over for dinner and game night (intense, competitive, raging game night).  I made the Frito "Pie", Bryce tidied up the apartment, and Steve and Christine were asked to bring either a healthy side dish... or dessert.

Frito "Pie" 
This was enough to serve 4 people dinner and we still had leftovers
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounce can of tomato sauce
10 ounce can of diced tomatoes and chilis
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 (generous) Tablespoons chili powder
14 ounce can of kidney beans
14 ounce can of pinto beans
1/2 cup water
Shredded cheddar cheese
2 - 10 1/2 ounce bags of Fritos Scoops

Over medium high heat, brown the turkey and garlic.  (Photos spared for gross-ness.) 

Add the tomatoes and chilis, 

...and the tomato sauce.

Mix well.  Next add the salt, oregano, chili powder, and cumin and mix all that together.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes while the delicious smell fills your home!

While the meat mixture is simmering, drain and rinse the beans well.  Rumor has is that rinsing beans very well makes them the less musical - musical fruit :)  Isn't it a rite of passage that all kids must learn that song?

After the pot has simmered for 25 minutes, add the beans and water.  Mix well then simmer for 10 more minutes.

What I love about recipes that have medium to long in-between times, like this, is that it actually gives me time to clean as I cook.  I know you're supposed to do that, but it seems so unreasonable especially when you're photographing and cooking the food.  Our friends showed up, the kitchen was fairly clean, and dinner was almost ready! 

We went rogue and put the Fritos on plates, then topped them with the chili and cheese and ate them like nachos.  I highly recommend this method!

Frito "Pie" is so surprisingly good!  It's no secret that Fritos are a salty, crunchy, addicting chip.  Adding chili and cheese only made them better and acceptable for meal time!  I like to think that using the ground turkey practically made this a "healthy" recipe.  That counts, right?

Speaking of healthy - when given the option of healthy side dish or dessert, this is what our wonderful guests brought us:

Steve proudly proclaimed that he killed two birds with one stone by bringing dessert with fruit, so it IS healthy!  The desserts were just as delicious are they are beautiful!

So... who wants to come over for the next game night?!