Spoons Of Wisdom

My life on Maui and beyond....

A Love of Chocolate Cake

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Chocolate cake has never been a favorite dessert of mine. It’s one of those desserts I never order at a restaurant and I rarely even eat it.  I’m also very picky about eating store bought baked goods.  I actually rarely eat desserts if they aren’t home made and/or of quality ingredients. If that isn’t picky enough I go so far as it being gluten free and refined sugar free as a criteria. Or most of the times anyway.

I love to bake for special occasions and there have been several in recent weeks.  I am always on the lookout for something new I haven’t made before.  I came across this paleo gluten free chocolate cake on Facebook.  I follow this beautiful genius cook named Ashley from My Heart Beets and she posted a Paleo GF Chocolate cake.  It was given such high praise, well I had to try it.

It’s paleo- and gluten free.  The cake is sweetened with maple syrup and uses almond flour and coconut flour.  Just my kind of ingredients.  And if you buy the dairy free Good for Life chocolate chips it’s even healthier. The frosting makes this even more decadent. The smooth glossy, rich, chocolatey frosting is easy to make and looks like a pastry chef made it.

There were several occasions in the past weeks where I got the opportunity to indulge myself and my guests to this decadent but healthy, delicious chocolate cake.  I’ve made the same chocolate cake 3 times and about to be 4 within the past 7 weeks.  Several birthdays and a going away party.  All of my guests and my husband loved this cake.  I guess I can say I “love” chocolate cake when it’s this cake I am eating.

 

 

Not your ordinary hot dog!

Hot dogs are a popular food item when it comes to barbecues and holidays.  In commemoration of 4th of July and our Independence Day I thought this would be the perfect menu item.  They’re called Bagel Dogs. Not your ordinary hot dogs.

Whenever possible I look for meats that are nitrite and nitrate free.  Nitrites and nitrates are preservatives and are often found in processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausages etc.  I found the Applegate brand of beef hot dogs were on sale at Whole Foods Market.  These hot dogs are 100% organic, nitrate free, gluten free,  hormone free and made from grass fed beef.  They are still pricey at $8.99 for 7 hot dogs. (includes the sale price of $1 off) It’s still worth it to me.  But why only 7 in a package and not 8?

This recipe makes dough for 4 Bagel hot dogs. I guess you can stretch it to wrap all 7 hotdogs. I just made 4 since this was my first time making this recipe.  It was very easy to make and takes less than a 45 min to make these delicious Bagel Dogs.  They’re called Bagel Dogs because they’re rolled in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion flakes and garlic flakes.  I left off the garlic flakes since I forgot to get it while I was at Whole Foods.  I’ll remember to add it next time since I love anything with garlic.

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This recipe is gluten free. Oh yeah!  The only real work involved in making these is kneading the dough consisting of cream cheese and mozzarella along with almond meal, xantham gum and an egg. It takes a little effort getting this all mixed together to form a uniform dough.

I love eating hot dogs with sauerkraut and mustard.  I don’t remember how I came to love eating sauerkraut growing up on Maui. I think it must be from living else where. That’s where most of my foodie experiences came from.  My husband likes his with pickle relish. He has a sweet tooth. It also helps to balance all the saltiness from the mustard and the sauerkraut.  Too bad we were out of relish.

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The Bagel Dogs were a delicious hit. This recipe is a keeper and my husband thinks so too.  It’s an inexpensive and healthy way to celebrate Independence Day on Maui.

Estimated cost: $1.60 per hot dog includes the mustard and homemade sauerkraut. It may be even less depending on where you live and the cost of the ingredients.

Thank you to The Primitive Palate for this great recipe.

Arizona May 2016

 

May 11-14   Shreveport – Dallas – Phoenix- LAX – Maui

How I did it:      May 11 –  Drove from Shreveport to Dallas.  FLIGHT: Dallas to Phoenix – Southwest Air (2 OW TKT) $167.96.  RENTAL CAR: Hertz Premium upgrade 3 days $218.89.  HOTEL: Redeemed 45K IHG reward points for 3 nights (upgraded to suite).   May 14 –   FLIGHT: Phoenix to LAX to Maui – Redeemed 45K reward miles from United Airlines after transferring 40K from Chase Rewards, taxes $57.20 + upgraded premium seats  $120.   Total: $564.05.

Note: The rental car was pricey. We decided to upgrade to a luxury car since we knew we would be doing a lot of driving. Well worth the price for that extra comfort.


The drive from Shreveport to Dallas is approximately 3 hours. We made good time on the road as we headed out at 6:00 am.  We returned our rental car and boarded our flight to Phoenix. It was a short flight on Southwest Airlines.

Our drive from Phoenix to Prescott would be longer than expected due to an accident on the freeway. Once we got passed the wreckage we were well on our way. The terrain was dry,  but still gorgeous with cactus lining the hillsides.  Our hotel was even better since the hotel upgraded us to a mini suite at the Prescott Holiday Inn.  As a  member of IHG we felt well taken care of by the staff. They even went above and beyond when we realized upon arriving home to Maui we had left an item back in the room.  They sent it at no charge. What great customer service.

 

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Arizona is a big state with lots to see and do.  Our first meal in Prescott was just a few steps from our hotel.  The Texas Road House restaurant was just the place to get a steak and some fancy margaritas.  Just what we needed after the 2.5 hour drive from Phoenix.  We were also within walking distance to Trader Joe’s.  Picked up some snack foods to take with us on our journeys.  I just love the location of our hotel.

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The drive to the Grand Canyon National Park was 2 hours from our hotel. Oh the scenery was, well “grand.”  There was lots to see on the way with clear skies and gorgeous trees.  But, nothing can compare to the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

20160512_112053_Richtone(HDR)This is why it’s call the Grand Canyon. Everywhere we looked it was mesmerizing.  The scenery from every point was incredible.

 Leaving the Grand Canyon we made our way through Sedona.  Everywhere there were beautiful colored hills and unique shapes and formations. 

The town of Sedona was very quaint with lots of shops and restaurants.

 

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Our 2nd day in Arizona had us driving to Camp Verde to see another impressive sight.  The Montezuma Castle National Monument. Here was the cliff dwellings of the Southern Sinagua people.  They lived in the caves high above the lower landscape. They farmed the land below next to the creek. It was a safe  haven from predators and hostile tribes.  Ouch the weather started to heat up and the dry air made it feel like it was over 100 degrees. It was probably close to it.

 

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We decided to drive north another 2 hours to Winslow to see the Meteor Crater!  This is the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site.

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Meteor crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. It was a fascinating place to visit.

20160513_154504_Richtone(HDR)-COLLAGEThis place is rich with history, science and geological wonders.

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We drove over 1500 miles in 3 days.  We saw some of the most beautiful scenery with canyons, cactus, hills, forestry and wildlife.  The restaurants we found were local foodie establishments that made us happy we took a chance and stopped by.   We love you Arizona and thank you for a fabulous trip we will always remember.

 

Places we ate:

Texas Road House – Prescott

El Charro Mexican Restaurant and Cantina

Saba’s Mediterranean Kitchen

Trader Joe’s

 

Places we visited:

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Grand Canyon National Park

Meteor Crater

Sedona

Jerome State Historical Park – Mining Town

Shreveport, LA May 2016

May 6- 11  Maui – San Jose – Dallas – Shreveport

How I did it:

May 6,  Maui to San Jose.   FLIGHT:  Redeemed 40K Miles Alaska Air (2 OW Tkt) seat upgrade $50.15 + taxes $11.20   HOTEL:  Sheraton Four Points San Jose $125.48.  May,  7-11  San Jose to Dallas   FLIGHT: Southwest Air (2 OW Tkt) $223.96.  CAR: Budget Economy Car 4 days $129.60.   Total: $540.39.

Note:   I chose to pay for the hotel in San Jose to get the 7000 reward points using my Starwood Preferred AMEX. We paid for Southwest Air miles since we didn’t have any miles to redeem at the time. We drove from Dallas to Shreveport and stayed at my in laws home and so we did not pay for a hotel in Shreveport.


Our road trip started from Dallas airport to Shreveport which took us 3 hours to drive.  The traffic was heavy at first and moved slowly on the freeway.  Once we got out of Dallas onto the interstate we were on our way.  And so were some other interesting vehicles. 🙂

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It’s been 5 years since we visited my husband’s family in Shreveport, LA.  And we were well over due to make the trip all the way from Maui.  We purposed to visit over the Mother’s Day weekend and it also coincided with Gerald’s birthday. Mother’s Day would be bittersweet for Gerald and for me due to my mother in law is going through late stages of dementia.  We were at peace seeing her and that she was lovingly being taken care of at home. It made for a wonderful Mother’s Day for all of us.

Our time hanging out with the family gave us time to reconnect. You feel a little older after seeing nieces and nephews growing and maturing in their own ways.

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My husband grew up in Shreveport and his parents still live in the same house where he grew up in.  The neighborhood still looks the same as I remembered it 5 years ago.  As in every city development happens and there’s new malls and restaurants popping up all over.  I still remember the crawfish restaurant where I had my first taste of crawfish. It no longer is in business.  We did manage to find another place which I think is better than the one I remembered.

Crawdaddy Kitchen

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Sunday was Mothers’ Day and Gerald’s birthday.  We took the time to go to church.  We love going to church even while we are travelling.  We had visited Shreveport Community Church the last time we were in Shreveport and it was a great Mother’s Day service.  The pastor is someone we already knew and was a frequent visitor to Maui.  Denny Duron was a former NFL player and has devoted his life to preaching and helping the kids of Shreveport.

Gerald was a happy man on his birthday as he dined in style at the famous Copeland’s of New Orleans restaurant.  We were amidst the Mother’s Day crowd, but it was worth the wait.  Fried catfish and seafood gumbo are some of the delicacies in Louisiana.   There’s no lack of good eating in Louisiana.

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Our time with the family was coming to an end. It was time to travel to our next destination.  We love you all and look forward to seeing you again.

 

Places we ate:

Crawdaddy Kitchen

Copeland’s of New Orleans

Monjunis Italian Café

 

Places visited:

Louisiana Boardwalk Outlet

Shreveport Community Church

 

Honolulu Weekend Feb 2016

February 26-28  Maui – Honolulu – Maui

How I did it-  FLIGHT:  United Mileage Plus Redeemed 24,000 miles (2 RT tickets + taxes $22.40) used partner airlines Hawaiian Airlines to Honolulu returning on Island Air.  Island Air late fee $50.   HOTEL:   Redeemed Chase Ultimate Rewards 31,735 points for 2 nights at the Ala Moana Hotel + $40 parking.     Total cost $112.40


 

I love travelling between the neighbor islands for a weekend get away. The Hillsong United Concert in Honolulu was sold out,  but fortunately for me they decided to add a second concert the following night. I am always looking for an adventure and this was the perfect opportunity.

I took note of when the tickets would be online for sale and I also made a quick inquiry to my mileage and points accounts to see if I had enough for a hotel room and airfare for my husband and myself.  Bingo.  Earning points and miles pays every time for air and hotel leaving money for eating and shopping. It’s well worth earning points and miles whenever possible.

The weekend was already planned with fun activities and of course lots of eating. Oh and the concert of course.  I was looking forward to spending time with my hubby and 2 sisters.

There is no lack of things to do and see in Honolulu.  My sister Mona lives there and we appreciate her being our driver and guide.  She knows of great places to eat and knows all the short cuts on getting there too. Thanks sis.

The concert was on Saturday and we had plenty of time to do some things I had on my list of to dos. We checked in to the Ala Moana hotel Friday afternoon.  Our room was on the 12th floor with a gorgeous view of the city and ocean.  We had a couple of hours before going to the airport to pick up my other sister flying in from Maui.  She couldn’t make the same flight with me and my husband. Time for a snack.

The Ala Moana Hotel is conveniently adjacent to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. There’s 340 stores and restaurants to choose from.  The center has gone through a massive renovation and has all the big name stores (Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales etc.) 20160228_053524

We were more interested in eating than shopping.  If you love ice cream then Nitrogenie is the place to get it.  Hawaii is its first store to open in the United States coming all the way from Australia.  It’s made using liquid nitrogen. Within seconds you have fresh made to order ice cream.  Rich creamy and so delicious.

 

Saturday morning is a good time to visit the KCC Farmer’s Market. It’s a must do when in visiting Oahu.  The market is full of locally grown produce and prepared foods of every kind and country. 🙂 We were there just as it opened at 7 am and for me that’s time for breakfast.  There were so many food vendors that it was hard to choose what to have for breakfast.  There were some breakfast items and a lot of food you would normally have for lunch or dinner. They all looked ono. (delicious)  I opted for the beef pho from a local restaurant called The Pig and the Lady.  Deeelicious. No need to say anymore.

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After the farmer’s market we headed around the island to the Makapu’u Light House Trail.  It’s an easy hike up to the most eastern part of the island. It overlooks the windward coast with views of Rabbit Island and Sea Life Park.  It was a beautiful day and we got to meet up with my daughter in law,  her husband and their son.  A great family reunion.

 

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Well, it’s concert time.  Hillsong United is a Christian band from Australia.  I love their worship music.  The concert was once again sold out and the experience was great.  It was like we were in church. We knew most of the songs.  This band is really anointed.

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No trip would be complete without going to church on Sunday.  After we dropped my sister at the airport we headed to New Hope Honolulu for their 7 am service. Yes. That was early considering we had a late night at the concert.  It was worth it. We were surprised by the guest speaker, John Bevere, which we had seen on Maui a few years ago. We love his teaching and have read some of his books.

We took a drive to Waikiki and ate breakfast at the Cream Pot.  Took a stroll through the beautiful Halekulani Hotel and did some shopping at H&M in Waikiki. The weekend comes to a close with a flight back to Maui.  The only bummer was that we were a few minutes late to check in at Island Air and were charge a late fee of $25 each. Ouch.  We did make it home safely.   As we locals say, A Hui Hou. Until we meet again.

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Places we ate:

Places we visited:

 

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