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Monday, October 15, 2012

New Orleans!

Instead of posting a recipe today, I'm going to share some of the photos I took of the food and French Quarter.

I went to New Orleans for the annual conference for the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology. This is a small conference (~200 people) that took place at The Hotel Monteleone.

This hotel is beautiful!

The Lobby (The hotel has been around for ages, was flooded during Katrina and then redone. Its beautiful and just a block from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter)

The rooms and beds were small, but what it lacked in size it made up for in location

My first stop, Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait

This is the cafe, just next to the river front. All they serve is beignets and drinks (coffee and soda). Cash only (and ask for the check... they add tip when they tell you the price).

The French Quarter is full of beautiful buildings

and great street bands

NOLA is Emril's restaurant in New Orleans. I didn't go there (it got $$$$ on urban spoon)

Jackson Brewery

Jackson Square, across from the river front

Bourbon Street after dark (where the party happens)

Hurricane from Pat O'Briens (famous for their hurricanes)!

Dinner on Wednesday: Bayou Burger
The Bayou Trifecta: red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, cajun jambalaya

Also from Bayou Burger: Crawfish Beignets with Tobasco powered sugar
(Think conch fritter with sugar)

Thursday Lunch: Johnny's Po-Boys
This is a muffaletta. Its a sandwich with ham, salami, capicola, swiss cheese, provolone, and green olive and carrot relish. If you like green olives, you'll enjoy this sandwich (I sure did)

Before dinner: Hurricane from one of the slushy drink places, with a side of jello shot
Thursday Dinner: Royal House Oyster Bar
Seafood stuffed mushrooms (one of which was traded for an Oyster Rockefeller)


Friday: Lunch at a local cafe. Got a 1/2 rubin, cup of spinach artichoke soup.
Snack: Sno-ball from Johnny's po-boys (wedding cake flavored). Pretty much a large snowcone.
Dinner: GW Fins - great food, high prices. I had an arugula salad with blue cheese and bruleed figs with the crab potstickers appetizer in a green pea butter

Saturday Lunch: Acme Oyster Bar
12 raw oysters on ice
shared a side of hush puppies and gumbo

This was my first time having raw oysters. I liked them... they were sweet/salty and very tender. Not slimy or chewy as I expected. This place is worth the wait to get in. 

Done. (again, traded one raw for a grilled oyster. I think I'd get the grilled oysters if I ever go again. It was yummy and cheesy)

Snack: Cafe Beignet
3 beignets, hurricane to drink
I think this place is better than Du Monde. Its cheaper, faster service, more selection (they have lunch items and quite a few baked goods to choose from), and I liked their beignets better. *gasp*

Oh yeah...! 

One last shot of the buildings. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to New Orleans (or more specifically the French Quarter, as I didn't spend any real time outside of the FQ). I think a day or two is all I could take of it, but I would have liked to see more of the city and surrounding areas if I would have had more time.


  • Kinda smelly (like garbage and vomit)
  • Expensive if you don't look around
  • Lots of crazy people. Wednesday night at 10pm, the place was crazy
  • Not great for young children, lots of drunks and topless ladies

  • Can bring drink from one place into another place (usually)
  • Great food
  • Fun shops
  • Great pralines (eat lots of samples, they're expensive to buy)
  • Lots of great music to hear on the street
  • No open container laws, so feel free to roam around with a drink in hand
  • Voodoo shops!
  • Easy to walk around. I don't recommend driving because the streets are narrow, parking is limited, people like to jump into the street (me) and you'll be too drunk to drive most of the night anyways.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samoa Cake

This time of the year is full of fun fall treats. But sometimes, its nice to have something other than pumpkin, ginger, and peppermint. I'm talking about something that quickly jumps into our lives at the end of the winter, making a short appearance, and than disappearing as quickly as it came. I'm talking about Girl Scout Cookies!

I was a Girl Scout for many many years. I joined as a Brownie... I think I was just entering 3 grade. In Brownies, I met some of my best friends (one of whom was my maid of honor this past spring), and after that first year I went to Girl Scout Camp. I continued though scouts way past an age where it was "cool" and  went to camp every summer. When I turned 16 I became a camp counselor and later a camp lifeguard... in total I was part of the scouts for ~13 year!
Some areas call Samoas "Caramel deLites." 
This is a travesty and there is nothing "lite" about these cookies!

Of course, along with camp-outs, silly songs, and crafts, I sold plenty of cookies. My favorites were always Samoa (purple on the order form and box) and Thin Mints (dark minty green). When the order forms arrived, the first day to sell was always a snowy day (providing pity purchases from some of our neighbors), and they arrived a few weeks later. Invariably, we ate all the cookies within a week or two (depending on how well my mom hid them). And that's one of the reason why camp was so much fun...

See, after cookies sales are done, there are always plenty of cases leftover that are given to the local camps as a special treat for the campers. Every summer, deep in the camp's freezers, there were boxes and boxes of yummy girl scout cookies!

But alas, you are not a girl scout, nor a camper. And it is many months before you will have access to their amazing (albeit expensive cookies). So what should you do??? Make a Samoa Cake!!!

Samoa Cake
1 boxed white or yellow cake (with oil/egg/water as needed)
1/4 cocoa powered (optional)
3 cups coconut
Caramel Frosting (see below)
8 oz chocolate chips

First, prepare the cake batter as directed on the box. For a marbled cake, separate the batter into two bowl (roughly in half) and add the cocoa power to one bowl, mix to combine. Layer the batter into a (oiled and floured) bundt pan, and swirl it gently together. Bake as directed. Cool for a few minutes and then gently turn it out onto a plate.

In a 300 degree oven, toast the coconut (spread onto a large pan) for about 15 minutes, checking and stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile make the caramel frosting. When the cake is cool, frost it with the caramel frosting and pat the coconut into the frosting so that it sticks. Melt the chocolate chips, and drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake (this can be done easily by putting the chocolate into a plastic baggie, and cutting the tip off to use as a disposable pastry bag).

Caramel Frosting:

This cake makes a mess, but it is so yummy!