Wouldn't it be nice to have enough time to update my blog on our recent D.C. trip?

That's all I have time for today.


Discovering Coconut Cream & "Lava Flow" Cupcakes

My mom may not appreciate this post, but hey, I can't fully describe my inspiration for my most recent cupcake creation without giving the back story...

Everyone dreams of going to Hawaii once in the lifetime, right? I'm no different. I've never been. 

Soon after my parents were married, my grandparents took my aunts and uncle to Hawaii - minus my parents. I don't know the reason why my parents were left behind. What I do know is that I heard my mom state multiple times that "I would never leave my married kids home if we took a family trip to Hawaii. Everyone would come."

4 months after I married Chris (and 10 months after Rachel married Dustin) my parents took their family to Hawaii... minus their married children. Don't worry though, I'm not bitter anymore.

When they returned, we had to listen to them rave about the beaches and the flowers and the surfing and so on. But mostly, they couldn't stop talking about "Lava Flows," a tropical drink similar to a Pina Colada. They would be relaxing by the pool or at the beach, raise their hand and say "Lava Flow!" and one would be brought to them. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it?

So, being 33 years old, having never been to Hawaii, while leaving in the least tropical part of the U.S. and having never tasted a Lava Flow, I had to come up with the next best thing... A Lava Flow cupcake. I suppose I could have made an actual Lava Flow, but I plan to visit Hawaii one day and want the full experience.

There are a few things I learned in the creation of these cupcakes:
  1. The combination of Pineapple, Coconut & Strawberries is heavenly.
  2. That I will never again use coconut extract after discovering coconut cream.
  3. My Mascarpone Whipped Frosting is amazing... but now it is completely out of this world.
I stumbled upon this cupcake recipe on Pinterest and it gave me the courage I needed to venture beyond extracts and incorporate actual coconut cream into the recipe. Using coconut cream was just as she described it in her post. One tip that she didn't mention... you find it in the Asian isle of the grocery store. You're welcome for saving you 20 minutes wandering the isles of WalMart. 

While the cupcake itself was good... I may tweak it just a bit to get more of the texture I like in a cupcake.

Fresh Strawberry Puree. The fresh strawberry puree was made by mashing 3 cups of strawberries in a saucepan and then bringing to a slight simmer over medium heat. I added 1/2 cup of sugar & 1 tsp of cornstarch. While that simmers (don't boil), place a small packet of unflavored gelatin in a bowl with 3 Tbsp cold water to soften. Pour the mashed strawberries into the bowl with the gelatin, mix well and place in the fridge to set.

Mascarpone "Coconut" Whipped Frosting. As directed in the cupcake recipe, I removed the thick cream that rises to the top of the can and set it aside. Start by placing an 8 oz container of Mascarpone Cheese in your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add 1/3 cup of the coconut "cream" and whip until completely combined. Next, add 1 1/4 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, 1/4 cup of Powdered Sugar and 1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract. Turn the mixer on high and whip until thick and set.

Assembly. Me being a cupcake snob... I hate, hate, hate when I see bakers hull out the center of the cupcake for a filling. Why remove half the cake??? Why not plop it on top and frost around/over it so I can have it all? Whole cupcake and everything? If you cut out half my cupcake, I'd better get a discount. That's all I'm saying. Anyway... for added crunch on top, I added toasted coconut. It was the perfect final additional to a light, moist, heavenly, tropical treat.
Until I'm lucky enough to find myself sitting on the beach, sipping an actual Lava Flow, these cupcakes will satisfy my need for a quick, easy to make, tropical treat. Enjoy!

Always the Camera Man

Almost always, I want to be the one holding the camera. The fewer pictures with me in them, the better. But there comes a time when I'd like to be the one in the photo...


Like when Nat Borchers visits with fans after the game. Brielle and Chris get to shake his hand, but me... I'm holding the camera. 2nd time this has happened.


Things Keeping Me From My Blog

I have not been good at blogging lately. March 27th was my last post. March 27th was over a month ago (just in case in your mind, you're still in April... like me). Life is crazy and seems to get crazier as time goes on. Was anyone going to tell me that as kids grow, so do their schedules? Which subsequently makes my schedules grow? Which makes me crazy, behind on laundry and neglectful of my blog?

Spiders. The weather turns warm and they invade my house, those nasty little creatures. And for some reason, I'm always afraid that the Tupperware cage won't work, and he'll escape. So every 5 minutes, I'm checking to make sure he's still there. The exterminator is scheduled when we're in D.C.

Spring Soccer. If you live in Cache Valley, you don't look forward to spring soccer. It's cold. Ridiculously cold. Like, bring multiple blankets cold, because yours will be taken when your daughter and her friend is on the sidelines, then you'll be without one, cold.

And then because every game is scheduled on a violin lesson day, you'll have to pull your angry kid from the game 10 minutes early to race into Logan. But hey... at least it's warm in her studio.

Babies. Yes folks, there's babies on the Merkley farm. It was bound to happen at one point or another. However, being that we just started feeding a KITTEN last fall, I didn't expect that the KITTEN would go and get herself knocked up while still just a KITTEN herself. Now we have 5 more kittens.

And my child begs me every hour, on the hour to take her out to see the kittens. I can't win and I certainly can't catch up. The laundry, dishes and vacation planning will continue to sit un-done, waiting for me to have a free moment in between all this madness.

If I've misspelled words in the post, I apologize. I didn't have time to spell check.