So these past two weekends I've been preoccupied and therefore have not been able to partake in the SMS festivities. Apple Turnovers and Granola Breakfast Cookies can be found at the respective linked blogs.

What have I been doing? Well, we headed down to DC for a fun-filled (and food-filled) 3 day weekend. Crabs and oysters and other fresh seafood... to be quite honest I was getting a little bit sick of seafood towards the end of the trip and extremely happy to be pit-stopping at Pat's for some Philly cheesesteaks.

At Hank's Oyster Bar, we waited a good hour or so for our little table for four. It was a good wait though (and anyways, who wants to eat at a restaurant where there is no wait, right?) We had oysters, sablefish, soft-shell crab and a lobster roll. They also had something special, a Bloody Mary & sake oyster shooter. As you can see, there were only 3 'cause I was the only smart one who thought that the 3 combined was not going to be a good idea. Apparently it tasted pretty gross but was, of course, an experience to be had. The oysters were fresh and only $2 each, which is a lot less than we thought it would be. In fact, everything at Hank's was very cheap. We are so used to these outrageously priced restaurants in NYC that once we step out, we forget that the rest of the world eats at normal prices and portions. I highly recommend Hank's, but be forewarned that you should call ahead to put your name on the waitlist.

Hank's Oyster Bar
1624 Q Street NW
Washington, DC

Next stop, Maine Avenue Fish Market. I searched high and low on Yelp in order to find the perfect "stall" and I came upon Captain White's Seafood City. This place should be renamed Captain White's Seafood HEAVEN. There were fresh crabs, cooked crabs, raw oysters, cooked fish dishes, shrimp... if it lives in the water, they will have it.

We were only interested in the oysters and crabs, so that's the area we went straight to. For a dozen oysters, you paid only $11. That's practically unheard of. We also bought a dozen (which turned out to be 14) large female crabs for $26, and proceeded to the cooking station. We asked for the crabs to be cooked with spice (which is the Old Bay Spice, which is basically synonymous to Maryland-style crabs). There was a long wait; some families bought basket-loads of crabs and other assorted seafood items to be cooked. I really cannot say anymore because just thinking about it makes my mouth water. They are just really, really good. Go. There. NOW.

Captain White's Seafood City
1100 Maine Avenue SW
Washington, DC

On the way home from DC, we stopped at Pat's for some delicious Philly cheesesteaks. Okay, I must confess: I've never even tried Geno's and I already am prejudiced. I just don't like a newcomer coming in and trying to say they're the OG and they're the best. Plus, I don't like how a store needs to use flashy Vegas-like lights to attract attention. If your food is good, it will show. So yes, I'm a Pat's supporter!

This past weekend, I made chocolate chip cupcakes with hazelnut buttercream frosting. Now, unfortunately there are no pictures because I had some issues with the piping and therefore, instead of looking like yummy cupcakes, my frosting looked like piles of doodie :(

HOWEVER, the frosting was really good, so I'd like to share the recipe that I adapted to fit my needs.

Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting
(This recipe was enough for 12 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter at room temperature (3 sticks)
2 tablespoons of milk
9 ounces of hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups (more if needed for consistency) of confectioners' sugar

In a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add the milk and in batches, the hazelnut spread. While this is mixing, add in the vanilla extract. Once this has all been mixed, add the confectioners' sugar in 3 batches, adjusting so that the frosting is to the consistency that you like. Pipe as per usual.

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Here is my much prolonged update to my first Tahiti post. Hope this is helpful!

Activities: There are so many things to do in Tahiti, but at times, we just wanted to hang out in our bungalow because 1, you spent so much dang money on them and 2, it is just so pretty. The Tahiti brochures really don't do them justice.

As you can see, there is an abundance of fish near your bungalows... to the point where it actually gets kind of scary! But in an endearing way, of course. Snorkeling is definitely an amazing experience, right off of your little hut.

There is also the usual kayaking around your resort, as well as jeep safari adventures around the island. We took one that took us on a small loop around Moorea, and lead us up to Mount Belvedere. There is also the opportunity to ATV all the way up there, but I would think that this would be a very tiring (yet exciting) journey.

We rented one of their open air vehicles and drove around the island. As you can see from the right, it's a very cute little buggie... but it was a very bumpy ride.

There was a shark and stingray excursion, that ended with a homestyle meal on a secluded island. We booked most of our activities through our activities desk at the resort, and found that their prices were very comparable (so don't worry if you are too lazy to do extra research).

Food: I realized towards the end that our resort had arrangements with many of the nearby restaurants. These restaurants would provide free transportation if the resort "recommends" them to the visitors. So each night we'd goto our activities desk and look through their book and see what restaurants had reservations and what we'd like to eat.

On Moorea
- Known as a Mediterranean restaurant, the staff is ever so friendly and there is a relaxed air once you walk in. You can sit by the water, and if you come at the right time, can even feed the stingrays that swim up to the edge. There is an abundance of seafood and it is good. The owner even came around to ask us how we liked it, and we felt like he really cared about his patrons.

Snack Maharepa - This was a little snack bar that we happened upon while driving the buggie around the island. They have homestyle food that was very similar to Chinese cooking. K had a plate of chicken over rice, that was very similar to something that we've eaten back at home. I had a really good mahi mahi sandwich. We saw many locals come here for lunch, which is always a good sign to us!

Alfredo's - This would have to be the most disappointing restaurant that we have ever eaten at. This is billed as an Italian restaurant and they had the haughty Little Italy attitude to go with it, which was extremely unwarranted. I mean, this was obviously a place that tourists frequent, so why be so nasty? Plus, it was not of Tahitian nature to be this way. The food was pretty bland, and not fresh. The only edible thing was probably the baguette that came at the beginning of the meal.

Te Honu Iti - Honu Iti was labeled a French restaurant. This was the first restaurant we went to after we landed, and I was feeling really nauseous and sick so unfortunately could not enjoy my meal. I did order some kind of fish and the WHOLE fish was put on my table (unlike in America where people think fish comes in filets *rolls eyes*).

On Bora Bora
La Bounty
- This place was definitely a disappointment since it was highly recommended by many TripAdvisor patrons. They were basically all about the effects, but not about the food. PLUS, they didn't list any prices?! I had a black ink pasta that came in a pretty package, while K had lamb skewers that they lit on fire at our table. It was a cool effect, but without that, they would just have regular food.

Bloody Mary's - This has got to be the most fun restaurant ever. You walk in, and there is a kitschy feel to it due to all the decorations and the sand on the floor, but you are greeted by a table full of fresh seafood. It's today's catch, and you get to pick what you will be eating and how it will be cooked. The food is fresh and good, although portions are a little bit small. There are a LOT of mosquitoes here too... I did not get bit ONCE on any of the islands but on our last night in Bora Bora, I got some real poisonous bites from these Bloody Mary mosquitoes that have left scars.

Matira Terrace - This was the restaurant within our resort, Hotel Bora Bora, and I have to say that they are exceptional. We ate breakfast there and also had an amazing customized dinner that we discussed with the chef. There was a seafood appetizer that included everything from poisson cru to lobster to sashimi (yes that is the spread to the left!) There really is nothing more for me to say about this place except GO THERE NOW. Villa Mahana has NOTHING on the restaurant at Hotel Bora Bora.
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This week's Sweet Melissa Sunday recipe is the Brooklyn Brownout Cake, chosen by Elyse of Confectionary Creations. I saw this recipe and was like, dang there's so much to make and with school and work, there really is no time. So... I was going to do the unthinkable -- cheat and BUY brownies instead of making them myself. Well, Karen also thought this was unthinkable and graciously shared some of her homemade brownies with me. Thanks Karen!

Now, this cake should really just be called Triple Chocolate Cake -- there is a 2-tiered chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache frosting and brownie bits added in for good texture. I had one bite and instantly my mouth screamed, "I NEED MILK!"

On the top left is a picture of my cake, naked. It actually looks a lot like one of those Oreo cakesters, huh? In the middle is the gooey chocolate ganache with brownie bits. I didn't trim the sides, which might've been the reason why it was so hard for the ganache to cover the split between the two layers... I will try trimming them next time. There was a tip to level the cakes so that the "domed" parts were flattened, but I found that because this had a more chunky frosting, it was not necessary. Just fill the parts that are lower with more frosting and voila, you have a "flat" cake!

I've never worked with ganache before, so this was something a little tricky for me. It is a very liquid frosting, so once you pour it onto the top of the cake, it starts spreading itself and will drip down the sides of the cake. This also means that it is harder to hide the split between the layers. I waited a bit for the ganache to harden slightly and then resumed frosting the cake.

I found that this cake was very brownie-like. It was moist, but wasn't fluffy and had the dense thickness of a brownie. It was definitely very CHOCOLATELY, that's for sure.
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So I recently joined a baking group called Sweet Melissa Sundays. We base our recipes on a book called The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, which is a bakery based out of our very own Brooklyn. Each Sunday, someone will bake a recipe out of that book until we make it through all of the recipes. My bake date is August 16th, which is still months away, but no worries; I can still bake along with each of the weekly hosts.

This week's recipe was the Honey Biscotti (Melissa calls it the Beescotti) and will be made by Lorelei, which is where the recipe can be found as well. Now, I've made biscottis previously, but this one was new for me. First, I've never baked with honey before, and it was a somewhat frustrating experience that really tests your patience. Waiting for the honey to drip from your measuring spoon is seriously like waiting for a chick to hatch -- NOT FUN, as I am not a patient person by all means. And then there's the whole, I'm not a big fan of almonds thing. I debated left and right but decided to put in chopped almonds anyways (since I was leaving out the candied orange peels and caraway seeds).

The house smelled so wonderful that I think I will have to make these again and again... this is not to say that the biscottis weren't good. They were very good -- not too sweet, honey and almond taste were present but not overwhelming and super satisfying crunch. I did have some issues with the temperatures in the original recipe, so next time I think I will lessen the baking time for the first round of baking and lower the temperature for the second round of baking. With the original baking temp and time, the bottoms of some of the biscottis came out slightly burnt.
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I love green tea flavored anything and when I purchased green tea cookies from Panya bakery, I knew that I would have to find a recipe to make my own.

After much searching, I found the following recipe from Recipezaar and it really closely resembles what I had bought. The tea flavor is very strong, the cookie is not too sweet and there is a slight crunch factor, but after biting into it, it literally melts in your mouth. Simply delightful! I will definitely make this recipe again and again.

2 cups bleached all purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons of green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar (more if you like your cookie sweeter)

  • Sift the flour, tea powder and salt into a bowl.
  • In a mixer bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.
  • Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together
  • Pull dough together carefully in a log, approximately 2 inches in diameter.
  • Wrap dough log and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until dough has firmed to the touch.
  • Slice dough into 1/4 inch rounds and place on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet, approximately 1 inch apart
  • Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 16-18 minutes (or until the edges start turning golden)
  • Remove cookies immediately and cool on a wire rack.
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