Monday, February 28, 2011

Not-Red Velvet Cupcakes

I was sitting around this past Sunday. Minding my own business. I was being lazy until Sister K came over and convinced me that we should do some baking. The idea was not appealing to me at the time because all I wanted to do was take a nap but I got up and we went to the store to buy the ingredients we were missing. Why? Well because a few weeks ago we had talked about doing a once a month baking session. So far I am already behind on schedule as I've missed the January deadline. I know I am pretty pathetic for not even trying to find some time to bake once a month.

Turned out to be a good decision because I've forgotten how much fun it is to bake...especially with my sisters! Thanks for your help the two Sister Ks.

I am obsessive when it comes to baking. Especially cupcake baking. I normally feel defeated and unhappy when my baked goods doesn't come out looking/tasting the way I had expected. I have a semi-long history with trying to bake a good red velvet cupcake. I've attempted many times but have never been happy with it. Recently I was doing some research and landed on this post which did a comparison of a few red velvet cupcake recipes. I decided that since the Pastry Queen's recipe fared so well in this comparison that I would test it out.

I didn't have Cake Flour in the house so this was an item I had to go to the store to get. Now I have a big box of it so I will need to make more cupcakes. Right? Of course.

Then my helpers (Fourth and Fifth Sister Ks) did all the measuring while I mixed everything together. It was like having baking elves. It was fabulous! I wish baking was always like this. :)

Sifting. Oh so much sifting went on. I thought it would never end. Poor Fourth Sister K.


Measuring of the wet ingredients. This was Fifth Sister K's job. Good job!

More mixing. It mostly all stayed in the bowl but I smell like chocolate and flour now.

This batter looks and tastes just like chocolate mousse.

Then it was baking time.

Frosting was made while waiting for the baking to be done.

After the cupcakes chilled out for a bit. They were frosted.

This frosting recipe is terrific! It had a wonderful consistency that allowed me to frost to my heart's content.

Oh and they are NOT red in color because I decided to leave it out. The red dye scares me a little bit. So instead we subbed in the same amount of water. I had a few family members taste them and they informed me that the cake was too dense. Almost too heavy. I am wondering if the subbing of water for the food coloring had anything to do with that. One person also mentioned that it was dry and could have been a bit more oily. Looks like it is back to the drawing board.

The Tea House at Los Rios - San Juan Capistrano, CA

This post is a bit long because I am combining what I think should be two separate posts into one. Somehow the story and restaurant review is just better done together.

Down towards the southern part of Orange County lies a very charming little town can San Juan Capistrano. Most people in the area just call it San Juan. The Amtrak line runs right through the center of this small town with it's small little shops and businesses.

The train actually stops at the Historic District of San Juan called Los Rios. It is a really cute little area. I didn't realize a place like this even existed until I saw it from the train one day. I knew I had to come back and walk around. Unfortunately, it took me about two years to finally visit this place.

I love these directional signs. 

Los Rios is a very rustic (in a very good way) little street. The last time I was there they were in the middle of construction of a little park with seating areas. That was two years ago so I am betting that the area is probably done by now. I should probably make a visit to check it out. The area is also full of pretty flowers and there is also a nursery and petting zoo.

This is the Tea House Restaurant on Los Rios. You can't really tell from this photo but the post the teapot sign is hanging on is decorated with broken pieces of tea cups/plates.

The entrance into the tea house. 

So the reason I finally visited Los Rios was because I had planned my sister's bridal shower at the Tea House. It was such a fun day. This was one of the party decor item I put together. She had selected a Tiffany's wedding theme.


This was the bridal shower party was filled with Godiva chocolates!

I had the cake shop make the cake in the shape of a Tiffany's box. They did a nice job!

We all wore sundresses, pearls and feathery hats to "girly" up the experience. Oh wait, that was just me and maybe Sister K. I, for one, have to try extra hard to be girly.

Here is a close up of the cake. It was red velvet cake. Really good cake.

I just love those cute teapot cozies.

This was the bride-to-be. Isn't she cute?

I love everything about the afternoon tea experience. I even took this photo of the tea strainer because it was so cool looking.

Here is the afternoon tea set. I must say that the fruit and sandwiches left much to be desired. There was nothing really special about the sandwiches. They were really bland and the fruit could have been so much more.

The star of this show was the scone. They are served warmed. They are buttery and really large in size. They are also heart-shaped. The scones are available in either plain or currant. Both really good.

The tea menu wasn't particularly large but I like that in a menu because it can get confusing with too many choices. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I like a lot of tea choices and sometimes I don't. This place has a smaller tea menu.

Overall, this is a really cute area to hang out with a group of girlfriends, sisters or a cute place to take your mom for Mother's Day or birthday. Like I mentioned it has lots of flowers everywhere and is very rustic. If you are in the area, go to the Tea House for tea and scones but skip the sandwiches. 

The Tea House on Los Rios
31731 Los Rios
Los Rios Historic District
San Juan Capistrano, CA
(949) 443-3914
Closed Mon & Tues

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Once again the weather people predicted doom and gloom for this weekend. Once again they were wrong. As I type this, it is currently nice, dry and sunny outside. What the heck? Are they ever going to get it right?

Due to my inability to deal with uncertainty, I decided to just run my 20-miler inside on the treadmill instead of waiting to see if/when it was going to rain a river. I packed the below items but only ended up using one GU, 1 Ultragen drink and I ate that Blueberry Muffin Larabar that Julie gave me last week. That bar is SO good. Could be my new favorite. Tastes very much like a blueberry muffin. Yum!

I decided to try out the Injinji socks I picked up last year at the Chicago Marathon expo. Yes, I've waited this long to try them out. I figure if they ended up bothering me that I could just stop the treadmill and change to regular socks. Never happened. They are awesome. I will post a proper review later on. 

So remember when I mentioned that I went to Lululemon to buy myself a new outfit to wear to the LA Marathon? Well, here it is. I've decided that I will wear something similar to this outfit. I purchased that tank top along with a marine colored one. The capris were from a previous visit. I really have to stop buying things from there. It is a terrible habit. 

This is where I spent 3 hours this morning. I hate to admit it but it was quite nice to run inside where the temperature was constant. No bugs to the face. My water, GUs, restroom within reach. Aside from the boring aspect of treadmill running, it was not as bad as I had envisioned. I don't want to make it a habit of doing my long runs here but I am less opposed to it now. To be honest, I miss my runner buddies. But I got it done. I should note that this is the first time I've ran this long/far on a treadmill. I had a lot of apprehension but it all worked out in the end.

I've never taken an AFTER running photo of myself in a restroom before but here I am in all my tired and sweaty glory.

Yep, nice and beautiful outside. 

With puffy white clouds, blue skies and nice running temperature. I am posting these photos because I am pretty pissed off that it is this nice outside and I ran inside because apparently it was going to rain cats and dogs and snow in some parts. Where? 

So I went through a big bottle of Smart water, a can of coconut juice, one Ultragen drink, 4 salt pills, 1 GU and maybe some more water. 

My recovery snack was this beet juice and that Blueberry Muffin Larabar. Tasted so good. I was starving. 

All that running made me feel a little less bad about eating this last night...

...and perhaps even some of this. I know, I am a bad cupcake!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Crown & Crumpet (Ghirardelli Square) - San Francisco

This is a bit back dated but better late then never, right? Right? Exactly. Two summers ago I was in San Francisco. It was not my first time there but it was my first time being there to run the San Francisco Half Marathon. It was also my first time at Ghirardelli Square. Now I'm not a huge chocolate fan. Gasp! I like chocolate, enough. I didn't come here on this day for chocolate...

...I came here to have afternoon tea at Crown & Crumpet. Pip pip cheerio and all that rot.

It was cutesy inside. I like cutesy.

Afternoon tea, oh how I love thee.

"Please no mobile phones. If we catch you using one, we will confiscate it and turn it into a crumpet." Gulp!

Fit for a princess.

It was the end of July, iced tea ruled over hot tea.

These sandwiches were just okay. Your average cucumber/cream cheese, egg salad, etc. Nothing notable.

These scones were tasty. Served warmed and was really buttery. They were pretty small. After I ate these two, I wanted just one more. What a pig, right?

Scone accompaniment: jam, lemon curd, butter and sweet cream.

Such a nice afternoon, I almost forgot I was there to run a race.