Monthly Archives: April 2015

Baking Chez Moi: Coconut Tapioca

Sunny Tapioca

The recipe for coconut tapioca really couldn’t be more simple.  The most difficult part was finding the large pearl tapioca that was required.  I went to several stores and finally found it in the baking aisle at AJ’s a higher end grocery chain in Arizona. After reading a few fond memories posted online it appears that the large pearl variety is a classic style of tapioca and probably what the current horror that is referred to as tapioca pudding spawned from.  Dorie’s recipe is the complete opposite of what I had imagined: light, flavorful and satisfying.

Tapioca Ingredients

The only bummer with this recipe is that despite the fact you may have all these ingredients on hand the tapioca requires  an overnight soak so you can’t just whip this up on a whim.

Soaking Tapioca

Once your tapioca is ready everything but the vanilla is brought to a boil and simmered till it thickens. Vanilla is added once you pull this off the stove.

Pouring Pearls

Tapioca in Pan

We tried this both at room temperature and chilled and the voted were overwhelmingly in the chilled basket so our next step was to refrigerate.

Chilled Tapioca

I served this both plain and with strawberries and spiced hibiscus syrup.  I really enjoyed the plain version of this but it got put into the ‘please make this all the time’ category when it was served with fruit and syrup.

Tapioca Two Glasses

Tapioca Top

While parts of the country have been shoveling out of late April snow we’ve been enjoying the amazing Arizona spring. Warm days and cool nights that are quickly slinking into all-the-time heat. I almost feel guilty that this recipe was picked; it’s the perfect dessert for a warm day.

-Christie

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Baking Chez Moi: Limoncello Cupcakes

Header Limoncello Cupcakes

We have an abundance of citrus that grows here and we’re constantly coming up with ways to use it up.  Fresh orange juice, citrus sangria, vanilla marmalade, lemon ice cream, bars, cookies and one of Scott’s favorites: limoncello.  He’s been making various versions of this with all our varieties of citrus and I can’t wait until the batch he made with our tangerines this year is ready.  It was quite a thrill to see that the latest Baking Chez Moi recipe would allow us to use some of this lovely liquor.  I was worried that this recipe would be fussy or overly complex but instead I found this to be one of the simplest recipes I’ve made so far.

Limoncello Cupcakes Ingredients

While my lemons are now out of season my bosses lemon tree is still producing juicy and bright lemons.  I lucked out that he happened to bring me a few right before I was set to make these. I pulled one of our completed bottles of grapefruit limoncello from the freezer since our lemon batch isn’t quite complete yet.

Limoncello Cupcake Sugar

As with most of Dorie’s recipes the zest gets rubbed into sugar. I love the wet sand texture I get to feel and the wonderful lemony aroma.

Limoncello Cupcake YogurtAdding Limoncello to Cupcake Batter

Yogurt, eggs and limoncello all get whisked into the batter followed by the flour and oil. The batter comes together easily and quickly.

Cupcake Papers for Limoncello Cupcakes

Filled tins limoncello cupcakes

While the cupcakes bake a simple mixture of sugar, water gets microwaved and a little limoncello gets added once it has cooled somewhat.  Once the cupcakes are out the syrup gets brushed in and things are left to cool.

Brushing Syrup limoncello cupcakes

The frosting is a simple buttercream with a bit of limoncello for extra taste.  I went to the trouble of using a star tip decorator for my icing and I think it was worth the extra hassle.  Just a little swirl turns the ordinary into something a little special without all that much real effort.

Frosting Limoncello Cupcakes

I loved the hint of cardamom spice in these and I think the amount of frosting was perfect.  I enjoyed these quite a bit more than originally anticipated.  They are lemony and light but also satisfying.  Pretty much a perfect spring cupcake.

Perfect Spring Cupcakes

Limoncello Cupcake Close Up

Topside Limoncello Cupcakes

-Christie

Spring Has Sprung: Horton Creek Trail, Basil Turkey Meatballs and West Fork Trail

Apple Blossom Background

It’s been a busy few weeks as we’ve tried to take in the beautiful Arizona spring weather. We’ve were super lucky that my sister got to celebrate Scott’s birthday with us.  We wanted to pack in as much Phoenix dining and Arizona outdoors as we could into a quick weekend.

Horton Creek Trail Forest

I wanted to get my legs and mind warmed up for my sister’s visit so we hiked along Horton Creek near Payson for the first time.  A warm spring day with the smell of wildflowers in the air and a beautiful creek, it was quite the pretty hike. The kind of trail that natives aren’t surprised at but outsiders are shocked that Arizona doesn’t solely consist of cactus and tumble weeds.

Horton Creek Trail Sign

Horton Wildflower

Creek Horton TrailThe trail was lovely and surprising.  At times you are right beside the creek and other times you gain some elevation and bright sunshine.  I feel so out of shape right now-this trail really kicked my butt.  About half way through I started dreaming about the turkey meatball soup that I had planned as a post hike meal.

Wild Jasmine

Horton Creek Waterfall

Horton Log Waterfall

Coming home to the newest Dorie recipe for Ginger Basil Turkey Meatball Soup was absolutely perfect.  When I was making it I really wasn’t so sure; the mixture of asian an italian flavors seemed a little odd.  It turned out that this fusion soup was totally delicious.  We had lots of meatballs leftover and used them to make meatball marinara subs.  The flavors were so perfect I’m tempted to try and add some ginger to my sauce in the future.

Turkey Meatball Soup

Turkey Meatball Soup Closeup

When my sister got here the next weekend I felt ready for West Fork Trail.  This is one of the most traveled trails in Arizona for good reason: it’s spectacularly beautiful and relatively easy.  Scott and I had experienced the amazing color riot that you get along the trail in fall but I had heard that the spring trail was also quite beautiful. The trail starts in an old apple orchard and we were lucky enough to catch the spring apple blossoms.

Carrie under the apple treeWild IrisWildflowers and Brick Wall

The trail crosses the creek over a dozen times.  We found the water level quite dropped from the fall which made for a much easier trail.  Flowers were blooming and the weather was perfect and gorgeous.

Carrie and Christie Bridge

Cloudy Creek West ForkReflecting Creek West Fork SpringRed Rocks West Fork SpringTiny C and CCanyon Spring West ForkBeautiful Leaves Spring West Fork

I feel so fortunate that Scott captured so many beautiful pictures of Carrie my sister.  When you live in different states you don’t get to see your family as much as you would like and I love that I have these gorgeous pictures to remind me of this weekend.

Carrie and Oliie Old Hotel

Carrie Under Wild BlossomsCarrie ProfileTail End Spring West Fork

The trail is so beautiful I could post about a hundred more pictures.  Really nothing is quite like experiencing it for yourself.  It’s even better when you get to share it with your loved ones on a perfect spring day.

-Christie