Am I a Funny Girl?

Thursday #359

thursday

We had a retro-arcade night at work last night, and Max was pretty excited to check out Pac Man, Asteroids, and Space Invaders. :)

The party was brought to my office by a new company called 1-Up Events; they specialize in bringing awesome themed parties into Bay Area offices. Love the idea, and would recommend them highly if you’re in the area!

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes

Whopper Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes

I love Whoppers. The crunch of the center, with just the right amount of chocolate coating. This cupcake is a simple white cake recipe that’s modified with a little kiss of malted milk flavor and the bits of crushed malted milk balls throughout.

Whopper Malted milk ball cupcake on plate

The frosting is a simple buttercream, with cocoa and malted milk powder mixed in to bring more of that delicious flavor. I don’t use a recipe for buttercream, I just use butter and powdered sugar and add flavoring to taste. I do recommend mixing the malted milk powder with a bit of milk to help keep the frosting from getting grainy.

I find that a couple of “movie theater sized” boxes of Whoppers are just the right amount for putting into and on top of the cupcakes, with a few left for sampling while you’re baking.

When it comes to smashing/chopping/shattering the Whoppers, we’ve done a bit of experimenting. The blender makes Whopper dust, a knife means you’re cutting them individually. I recommend using the flat side of a stainless scraper/chopper and the heel of your hand. A couple of good whacks will break those malt balls down the the perfect size.

Whopper malter milk ball box

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 cupcakes
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ C. Sifted Cake Flour
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Whole Egg, separated
  • 1½ C. White Sugar
  • ¾ C. Butter
  • 1 C. Milk
  • ½ C. Malted Milk Powder (could use Ovaltine)
  • 1 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 t. Almond Extract
  • 1 C. Chopped Malt Balls (Whoppers)
Instructions
  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, salt and malted milk; sift together 3 times. Set aside.
  2. Beat all 4 egg whites until foamy, reserve yolk
  3. Add ½ C. sugar gradually until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter with remaining 1 C. sugar until light and fluffy, add egg yolk.
  5. Add sifted ingredients alternating with milk a little at a time until smooth.
  6. Mix in extracts.
  7. Add meringue and beat thoroughly into batter.
  8. Mix chopped Whoppers into batter.
  9. Fill cupcake liners about ½ full
  10. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes

Focused whopper malted milk ball cupcake

 

Thursday #357

thursday

One year ago today, Jennifer Lynn Kranz died.

52 Thursdays that Libby and Tony should have had with their little girl, 52 Thursdays since she left. We measure a lot of things by number of Thursdays around here, and Jennifer has been gone for 52.

I invite you to take a moment; send a prayer up for Jennifer and her family, give your kids an extra hug and kiss, visit Libby’s blog.

Can you donate? How about $7, for the seven children who will die today from cancer, or $7 for the seven who will die tomorrow. Or $12, for the day Jennifer left. Or $52 for every week she has been gone. Every penny helps, as Libby and her team fight to Unravel the thread of pediatric cancer.

 

Rainbow Jello Shot Cake

Layered Rainbow Jello Shot

Just because your team isn’t playing doesn’t mean that a Super Bowl party isn’t fun! We were invited to a friend’s house for the game, and I wanted to bring something FUN to share.

For many of us, Jello shots are a fun memory from college, but this rainbow Jello shot cake takes it to a whole new level!

It’s suprisingly easy to make; this is actually the first time I’ve ever attempted any sort of layered Jello project, so I’m thrilled with the final product. Because the Niners weren’t playing, I went with a rainbow instead of team colors, but this would easily change to any colors you need to match your celebration.

A tip before I get into the instructions: I recommend buying all sugar free or all regular Jello; each type makes a different amount, so the layer end up uneven if you combine. Looking  at the photo above, you can see that there’s more yellow than other colors, and that’s because it’s non-sugar free. It still looks fine, but isn’t totally even.

rainbow jello shot cake whole

Ingredients & Materials

  • Bundt pan
  • Non-stick spray
  • Small saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Six boxes of Jello (Cherry, orange, lemon, lime, berry blue, grape)
  • Unflavored gelatin (I used about 2 packets total)
  • Clear booze of choice (I used vodka – Put it in the freezer ahead of time so it’s extra cold)

Directions

  1. Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray, then use a paper towel to wipe out the excess
  2. Put 3/4 c. water in saucepan, sprinkle 1 t. unflavored gelatin over it. Let sit 1 minute
  3. Over medium heat, stir until dissolved, about 2 minutes
  4. Add Jello, stir until dissolved, about 5 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, stir in 1/2 c. cold alcohol
  6. Pour 3/4 c. Jello mix into mold, place in fridge for 12-15 minutes
  7. Pour remaining Jello into mixing bowl, add 2 T. sweetened condensed milk for “creamy” layer
  8. Remove mold from fridge when time is up; top should be slightly tacky to the touch
  9. Pour creamy layer carefully over Jello layer. (I spooned it with a large tablespoon)
  10. Place in fridge again for 12-15 minutes
  11. Wash all utensils and repeat with the next color, continue until finished.

rainbow jello shot cake close up

To serve, put the pan into a larger container of warm water, for just a moment, until it pulls away easily from the edges of the pan. (You can see that we let ours sit too long, and the red oozed over the whole thing a little. Didn’t impact the taste at all though!

Turn over into a serving tray, slice and enjoy!

rainbow jello shot cake slice

Is the Legoland Hotel worth the price?

Is the Legoland Hotel worth the price?
I’m not generally an expensive hotel person. My logic is that, when we’re on an adventure somewhere, the hotel is strictly a place to leave our stuff and sleep. I don’t really understand spending several hundred dollars a night for a fancy place to crash.
When we went to Disneyland for Max’s first trip, we opted to stay across the street at an affordable motel, instead of on-property. While lots of folks talk about how staying on-site helps “continue the magic,” when I sat down and looked at the numbers, it just wasn’t something I could justify for our family.
That said, I’ll never go to Legoland and not stay at the Legoland hotel.
(As I write this, the Legoland Florida Hotel is still under construction, so we won’t stay there when we visit Florida in April, but if it were open? We’d be staying there.)

legoland hotel exterior 01

When we started planning Max’s birthday surprise vacation last spring, we knew that Legoland was a priority. It was actually the inspiration for the whole trip, even though we only spent one day of the trip there. Because we only had the one day, I wanted to do something to make it extra special, and we decided that staying at the Legoland Hotel was just the way to do that.

So like I said, I’ll never to go to Legoland again and not stay at the Legoland Hotel. They did such an amazing job at everything, it truly does extend the experience of the park in a way I’ve never seen before.

It’s clear from the moment you walk in the front door that this isn’t just any hotel. From the custom-printed LEGO carpet, to the play areas throughout the lobby, the detail is incredible.

legoland hotel lobby

There’s a hug play area in the back of the lobby that features big pits full of LEGO, an interactive castle play structure, and seating around the edges so parents can relax and enjoy a snack and/or cocktail while the kids play. (There’s also evening entertainment, like building contests and performances, but we missed them on our brief visit)

Inside the lobby castle play area.

Inside the lobby castle play area.

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There are three room themes you can choose from; Adventure (think Indiana Jones), Kingdom (aka Castle), and Pirate (our choice) And every part of the room is themed. There are both Themed and Premium Themed rooms; we went with a standard room this visit, but will most likely spring for the upgrade next time.

Every room has a separate sleeping area for up to three children complete with bunk beds and a pull-out trundle bed; there are two TVs so kids can watch movies and play games in their own sleeping area, and there are at least eight LEGO models in every room. Our pirate room included a monkey, bugs crawling on the bathroom mirrors and a big Jolly Roger hanging on the wall above the bed. (Which I unfortunately cut off in this photo)

legoland hotel pirate room

The separate kid’s sleeping area has All The Themed Things.

legoland hotel pirate bunk beds

The bathroom, you guys. The toilet paper. Nothing misses the touch of LEGO.

legoland hotel toilet paper

Upon entry into your room, you’ll see a safe tucked into the corner; when you check in, you’re given a code sheet. Kids have to find the answers to some clues to discover the code to open the safe. The clues are simple enough that Max did them without help; things like “How many mirrors are hanging outside the elevator on the first floor?” Once the safe is opened, there are a couple of LEGO sets, a magazine, and some chocolate coins. Ooh, pirate’s booty!

legoland hotel inroom treasure

There’s LEGO everywhere you look; even the ice bucket is a LEGO minifig head!

legoland hotel ice bucket

There is LEGO everywhere. We had a late dinner at the Skyline Café, and that’s where we kicked off our adventures in minifig trading (Read more about minifig trading here!) and they brought a little tray of LEGO for Max to play with while we waited for our food to arrive.

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There’s no way to be bored at the Legoland Hotel. Even though it’s only a three-story tall building, we took the elevator as often as we could, because how could you not when, instead of an elevator, it’s a DISCO-VATOR?

A video posted by Lizz Porter (@lizz_porter) on

Again, because it was a short trip, we didn’t get to check out the pool, but it’s on our must-do list for next time.
legoland hotel exterior 02 pool

So, to answer the question from the title of this post. Is the Legoland Hotel worth the price? A resounding yes! Besides all of these amazing details, staying at the hotel grants you VIP early access to the park, ahead of crowds, and breakfast is included at the Bricks Buffet, which features delicious food, and a special kid-sized buffet section where they can pick their own food for breakfast.

legoland hotel giant minifig

Kicking off our San Diego vacation at the Legoland Hotel was a great way to start off an amazing week; check back soon for more about Legoland itself!

legoland out front

Moscow Mule Shooters

moscow mule shots

Someone proclaimed 2015 the “Year of the Mule” or something. Maybe. I think.

Well, whatever it was, the mule-inspired cocktail is everywhere these days.

A traditional Moscow Mule is vodka, ginger beer, and lime, served over ice in a copper mug. I went to one restaurant, where in a patriotic (?) move, they use an American-made vodka, serve it in a stainless steel mug, and call it an American Mule. I’ve made it with Cherry Vodka (Three Olives brand is a favorite) and it makes a super-refreshing variation for summer.

When I found these ridiculous little copper shot glasses at HomeGoods recently, I just knew what had to happen. Moscow Mule shooters.

When trying to refine a recipe to convert one of my favorite cocktails into a shot, my biggest concern was the bubbles of the ginger beer. I wasn’t sure how to get the bite of ginger beer without the carbonation; after a little thought, the solution was to make a strong ginger simple syrup.

My friend Vikki first introduced me to ginger simple syrup last year, and I was instantly hooked. It’s so easy to make, and keeps for several weeks in the fridge.

So first, make the ginger syrup. You’ll just need three things:

  • A large piece of ginger, about the size of your hand
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 cups of water

My recipe is more about the ginger than the sugar; Vikki’s recipe has more sugar in it. Thinly slice the ginger and put it in a saucepan with the water and sugar. I use my mandolin to slice the ginger really, really thin, so get as much surface area as I possibly can.

Bring to a boil and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes, then strain out the ginger pieces and store in the fridge until you drink all the delicious, delicious syrup.

moscow mule ginger sumple syrup

Once you have the syrup made, putting the shots together is simple; depending on how many you’re making, just adjust the amounts.

Over ice in a shaker, pour:

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part ginger syrup
  • Juice from 1/4 lime (per shot)

Shake well and strain into shot glasses, little copper ones if you have them! :)

moscow mule copper cup