Month in Review: August 2019

August slipped by in a blur of happy moments. Ian and I celebrated five years of marriage, attended local summer events, and gathered together with my family at Devils Lake to wish my brother and sister a happy birthday. It was a month full to the brim with outings, but we loved every moment of the chaos.

Last summer Ian and I attended The Iron Horse hotel’s anniversary party and won a free night stay. We decided there was no better time to use this voucher than on our five year anniversary.  While the hotel is only 15 minutes from our home, there was an element of excitement to stay downtown for the night. We took advantage of the hotel’s walking distance to the Third Ward’s moon festival and listened to jazz under the stars.

To keep our anniversary celebrations going, we booked a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan. I had yet to go beyond the breakwater, so I was anxious to see the city’s skyline from the lake. The view did not disappoint! I’m already looking forward to booking another trip.

In true summer fashion, August was sprinkled with weeknight excursions to local ice cream shops. We made a point to try all of the little independent stands in our neighborhood, which resulted in lively debates on which ones are our favorites.

To celebrate my brother and sister’s birthdays (both in August), the family planned an afternoon at Devil’s Lake. We grilled out, splashed around in the water, and rented a paddle boat. Many laughs were shared as we took in the beautiful views around us.

We ended the month being serenaded at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. With live music wafting through the grounds, we felt like we had been transported to a Mediterranean estate. Watching the sun set from the terrace was a beautiful sight and it felt like the perfect way to say farewell to August.

To catch a glimpse inside our daily life in August, watch the video below!

Tasting History: Baked Alaska Cupcakes (1860s)

Conflicting tales are a common theme in history. Without thorough documentation, bits and pieces of information are strung together to form a general idea of the past. In the case of the Baked Alaska, historical chatter center around its popularization versus its creation. Originally called an omelette surprise in Norway, a New York chef popularized the Baked Alaska in 1867 to celebrate the acquisition of Alaska.

It’s clear the concept of the Baked Alaska wasn’t groundbreaking since cookbooks, such as The Philadelphia Housewife, printed recipes for baked meringue ice cream desserts as early as 1855. However, it wasn’t until 1867 that homemakers began attempting this technically difficult dessert to delight dinner guests.

While a traditional Baked Alaska is prepared as a cake, I took a modern approach to this vintage recipe and made them into cupcakes. A key to success with this recipe is to keep the ice cream as cold as possible and serve them immediately after you caramelize the meringue. This is not a make-ahead dessert as it needs to be prepared and served quickly. Therefore, these cupcakes are better suited for an intimate dinner party rather than a large-scale gathering.

Baked Alaska Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • White Cake Mix
  • Strawberry Ice Cream
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 C. sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat over to 350˙
  • Prepare the white cake mix according to box instructions.
  • Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • Fill each muffin tin 1/3 full.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  • Let cupcakes cool.
  • Scoop 2 heaping tablespoons of ice cream on top of the cupcakes.
  • Cover the cupcakes and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  • Heat the oven to 450˙ and prepare the meringue by beating the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Spoon the meringue mixture over the cupcakes and bake for 2-3 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Serve the cupcakes immediately.

Month in Review: July 2019

July went by in a blur. I guess that is the side effect of a busy month. As I sorted through all the photos and videos we captured throughout the month, I was stunned at how much we packed into 31 days. From catching up with friends to exploring Milwaukee with family, countless memories were made.

To kick off the month, Ian and I made a day trip over to Oconomowoc Lake to visit with friends. We watched a storm roll in over the lake while playing games on the deck and enjoying each others company.

After our goodbyes, Ian and I prepared ourselves for the crowded Summerfest grounds. We had tickets to see Bon Iver, and while the performance did not disappoint, the sunset over the lake stole the show.

As a Fourth of July tradition, Ian and I enjoyed a sunset dinner at Barnacle Buds. It is a quirky lakefront restaurant tucked in the middle of a shipping yard. The atmosphere transports you to the Florida Keys and makes you feel like you’ve been on a mini vacation.

In the middle of the month we made the drive back to the family farm. It was an afternoon filled with riding the Kubota and challenging each other to basketball games. You really couldn’t have asked for a better summer’s day.

During a rare free weekend, Ian and I drove up to Lion’s Den Gorge for a hike. I was stunned at the beautiful sweeping views of the lake. It was an easy hike, but it wasn’t long before the mosquitoes were chasing us. Therefore, we escaped the woods and drove to Kopp’s for a cheeky scoop of frozen custard before heading home.

The month came to a close with a visit from Ian’s family! We spent the weekend trying new restaurants, checking out new spots around town, and catching up. A highlight from the weekend was making it over to the new Mequon Public Market. It is a great addition to the area and I can’t wait to try out all of the food vendors – especially Santorini Grill!