Heavenly Tropical Cake 
My mom told me about this cake that she and my sister fell in love with at the Tommy Bahama's Restaurant where they live on Maui. Last year, for my mom's birthday she requested and paid a profesh baker friend of hers to make this cake. BUT, it turned out to be a dud. :(
Not only was the cake nothing like the restaurant's version, but it wasn't even that good for what it was, and apparently burned on the bottom. oopsy! :(

Just hearing this story made me feel a personal injustice, and an immediate super-challenge was launched. "I was going to make this cake RIGHT!"

Yet, to my surprise, the challenge turned out to be an easy one. By God's graces and favor, with just FIVE minutes online, I found the actual recipe for the cake here Tommy Bahama's Pina Colada Cake along with other yummy recipes they have published Tommy Bahama's Recipes and was already special ordering the key ingredients on my sixth minute into the challenge.

BTW, their food is really good! This is not a plug for Tommy Bahama's restaurant but, they do have some pretty good food there. If you ever run into one of their locations, go ahead and give them a chance. :) I know of one on Maui in Lahaina and one in Palm Springs near Indian Wells.

Anyway, so,  I find their exact recipe *which is very simple* and THEN, on top of that they tell you in the recipe what brand of cake mix and the exact website and item # to order the white chocolate mousse mix for the whipped cream filling. I ordered two cans around $5.00 each. One single can of mix could probably make three cakes. Below are my exact notes about the steps I went through.

I am telling you, THIS CAKE IS REALLY GOOOOOD! It passed the test of mom-authenticity and even BETTER everyone I make this cake for says it's beyond amazing.
You can make it yourself. It's A perfect light and fluffy bliss cake and would go very well with a margarita or mai tai I am sure. :)

Well... if you don't like pina coladas... or getting caught in the rain...then, maybe this is not the cake for you. You kinda have to like coconut and pineapple. Although, now that I think about it you could do any flavors with this recipe since it's a white cake and white chocolate whipped cream filling.

Just a side note: My recipe notes are quite detailed but you can make this process as simple or complex and gourmet as you feel comfortable. Drop the extra steps or ingredients if you want, the key is white cake, whipped cream frosting, fruit layer, coconut rum/or other and toasted coconut or whatever to garnish. It's good fresh, but I also think the more the cake sits and simmers the better.

Ingredients I used
1 box moist white cake mix (substitute 3 parts coconut milk, 1 part water for the water called in box instructions)
1 can coconut MILK
3 egg whites (as it calls for on the box)
Veggie oil ( as it calls for on the box)
1-2 cups Parrot Bay Rum coconut rum (original recipe from Tommy calls for Golden Rum which you could use too)
1  8 oz can crushed pineapple, very well drained
Shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

-Toast 2 cups of coconut in a large frying pan on medium heat. Constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Then transfer coconut to a cookie sheet lined with a paper towel to let cool. Funnel into a baggie and set aside.
-Open the can of crushed pineapple and drain an much liquid as you can. Place in a bowl, cover and set aside in fridge.
-Grease 2-8 or 9 inch cake pans really well. (I've done round and square)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Combine the bag of cake mix, 3 egg whites, 1 tbs vanilla, 1/3 cup veggie oil, 1 cup coconut milk, and 1/4 cup water. Start to beat slow then mix well for 2 minutes.
or make as directed on you cake mix box.

-Pour batter into cake pans and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and when you touch the top with your finger-it springs back. Let cake cool. Try not to over bake.
-Let cool, cover and place in the freezer. You can even make the cake a night before. It's much easier this way.
-When ready to assemble cake(perhaps the next day), torte each cake into to layers yielding 4 layers total (I did 3 though because I was worried it would be too high, heavy, a topsy-turvey)

You can try to do the math on this one. The mousse directions on the can said use 1/2 gallon of whipping cream for the whole can but you don't want to use the whole can.
-Whip1/2 cup and 2 Tbs White chocolate mousse powder with 1/4 cup coconut milk, then add 1 pint whipping cream and whisk on high until you have stiff peaks.
-Add some vanilla extract Mix well.
Cover, and set aside in fridge until you are ready to assemble cake.
-Take cooled or frozen cake and cute your layer horizontally.
-Then, stack all cut layers together and trim the sides of crust.
-Place plastic wrap in between layers and set aside (in freezer again if needed) until ready to assemble.

On the fancy cake plate of your choice..with a doilie perhaps...
-Place first layer of cake down and using a pastry brush, brush on the coconut rum or sprinkle on.
-Spread a layer of the white chocolate mousse about 1/2 inch or so.
-Lightly cover mousse layer with crushed pineapple pieces
-Repeat steps ending with a flat surface cake layer facing up. Brush top with rum.
-Frost whole cake with white chocolate mousse and sprinkle top and sides with toasted coconut.
Sprinkle the coconut just before serving because if the coconut is on the cake and sitting in the fridge, the coconut will loose it crunchy-ness.

If you're really ambitious you could take your discarded pineapple juice and make a nice creamy pineapple sorbet to serve with the cake.


Simple Wild Apple And Vanilla Bean Jelly
A couple weeks ago when I  made apple pie I was wondering what I could do with all the pretty left over apple peels. I found an awesome simple apple jelly recipe that can really be used for ANY kind of jelly you want to make. These kinds of recipes always excite me because I can make tons of different jellies and it's so easy to make. The only thing you may have to invest in is a candy thermometer. It's worth it though and you can find one that is decently priced.

Here's how it's done.

STEP 1: Boil peels and cores from 4-5 apples in 3-4 cups of water for 15 minutes.
I used the wild apples from my tree and one Red Delicious I had on hand.
On my second batch of jelly(which was more planned) I used mostly Granny Smith for a nice tart flavor. And then a couple Red Delicious for color.
STEP 2: Strain all peels and cores back into your boiling pot, leaving you with about 2 cups of pretty, rosy-pink broth.

STEP 3: Stir in 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (for looks), 1 tbs vanilla extract, and 1 tsp cinnamon or your favorite pie spice mix. Let boil until your candy thermometer reaches 220F. It takes about 20 minutes.

STEP 4: Let cool 5 minutes, pour into canning jar leaving about 3/4 of an inch at the top and let completely cool. Place lid on jar, and store in fridge or learn how to properly seal it.



Cupcakes in a Hurry: Chai Spice Cupcakes
Last week was a friend's birthday and I wanted to bake her a goodie. However, I had to make something that was quick and with on-hand ingredients. I had to be over at her house for her party a couple hours after getting home from work. Luckily, I keep some good stuff on hand like...spice cake mix and cream cheese?
I think it's Betty Crocker spice cake mix, it's really good and I use it for this yummy pumpkin cake cookie recipe I make in the fall.

Anyway, these turned out really good and the Chai element made them have a unique and gourmet touch. 

Spice Cupcake Recipe
-Spice cake mix, follow box directions.
-Substitute the water it calls for with a half-half mix of milk and Tazo Chai extract.
-Add more cake spice/cinnamon/all spice to your liking(2 tsp maybe)
-Bake batter into mini or regular cupcakes
Oven temp is 350F, bake for 10-20 minutes depending on your cupcake size choice.

 Chai Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
2 packs cream cheese, I think that's 8oz. -room temp
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temp
1 cup powder sugar or to taste
1/4 cup Tazo Chai Tea extract-I love this YUMMY stuff. I get it at the grocery store in the tea section.
 1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs cake spice or pumpkin pie spice
-Whip cream cheese and butter, then slowly add each remaining ingredient one at a time.
-Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes
I decorated with cake spice, chocolate sprinkles, fine dry coconut, and pearl dragees.


This weekend we pretty much worked on fixing up our house three days straight. I finished putting away all my kitchen stuff and Sean did a whole bunch of stuff, including putting up window blinds.

On Friday after work, I did have some fun though. I went to see Crazy Stupid Love.
I went with my friends from work, the movie was super funny and afterwards we had a blast for happy hour. Don't worry, I had a virgin-margarita. :)

I also managed to paint my toe nails all pritty on Sunday, here they are...hearts and polka-dots.

That blurry thing at the bottom of the picture is my baby-tummy at 29 weeks. :)
If you want to paint your nails cute like mine, 
-Paint your nails the background color you want after breakfast, I did grey. Let them dry.
-Then paint your design on them after lunch, I did little hearts on my big toe and polka dots on my other toes with teal and green.
To get my grey I mixed white and black polish together.
To get my heart color I mixed white and a dark teal I had.
If you want a glossy finish for your toes or nails after, brush on a clear coat after you're design has dried.
I like to have opaque white on hand to mix new and exciting colors with my darker color polishes. To mix colors I use a paper plate and bottle caps. For the hearts, I used a tooth pick for tiny design.

I have  problems with painting my finger nails because I pick it off right away. But this time, I wasn't done being creative so I just painted my thumbs with little hearts.

Here's some pictures of Buddy and Frodo taking advantage of their long holiday weekend.
Have a great week! Only four days until another weekend. ;)