Thursday, September 20, 2012

Coping with Wanderlust -- The 10 U.S. Cities I Would Most Want to Live (If I Didn't Live Here)

I've really been getting the itch to travel lately. It's been a long time since Mr. G and I ventured outside the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In fact, we have only left MN a couple of times since moving here last Spring -- twice to visit my family in Nashville, two business trips for Mr. G and one weekend trip for me in LA with his sisters. That's not to say we haven't gone anywhere or done anything; we traveled upstate twice last year, recently took a trip to nearby Stillwater for our anniversary and spent many weekends this summer at our cabin north of the cities. Nevertheless, I'm starting to feel a little claustrophobic here in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis, and even though I love this state, I'm ready for a change... No doubt the fall weather is contributing to this as well. :)

For example, a LOT of my friends have traveled to Seattle this year for whatever reason. It's a little strange, really; I mean, why now all of a sudden? Is there a Groupon that I missed or something? Seattle is one of the places I want to visit most in the U.S. I don't know why, but I'm drawn to places that are known for being rainy, cold and kinda dreary (case in point: London is my top pick for international travel). So, I've been living vicariously through my friends' Facebook updates and Instagram feeds showing pics of "the original #Starbucks!!" and so on. It doesn't help that I habitually listen to Owl City on repeat every fall (not sure why; it's just a thing for me), which means "Hello Seattle" has been stuck in my head for weeks. Salt on the wound, Owl!

So, in my usual fashion, I've dealt with my restlessness and wanderlust by compiling a list. :) It's pointless for me to list of all the places I want to travel because the answer would be EVERYWHERE, so instead I came up with the 10 U.S. cities I would most want to live if I didn't live here (...even though I haven't been to some of these places). Disclaimer: this is just for fun; I have no plans to move, nor do I want to. So don't ask. ;) Here is my list, which is (sort-of) in order:

  1. Boston, Massachussetts (been here)
  2. Seattle, Washington
  3. Chicago, Illinois (been here -- briefly)
  4. San Francisco, California
  5. Denver, Colorado
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Manhattan, New York (been here)
  8. Nashville, Tennessee (from here!)
  9. Asheville, North Carolina (been here)
  10. Atlanta, Georgia (been here)
Mr. G and I are hoping to take a big trip next year (remember what I said about London?... :) ), so we are saving our vacation $ and time off for that. In the meantime, we'll be taking a daytrip to Red Wing, MN, in a couple weeks with his family (they take a fall trip each year; last year we went to Duluth), and we'll head down to Nashville again over Christmas. Hopefully that will be enough to tie me over until next year!

In which city or cities would you most want to live? Do you have any upcoming travel or relocation plans? Have YOU been to Seattle this year, too??

<3 Mrs. G

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Raspberry-Rhubarb Cupcakes

If you know me, you know I'm always looking for an occasion to bake cupcakes. I try to avoid baking them randomly, since they will just end up in my stomach. My mother-in-law's birthday was last week, and she loves rhubarb. As it so happens, I had recently bought some rhubarb at the Minneapolis Farmers Market in July and froze it, and since Mr. G is not a rhubarb fan, I figured this would be the perfect time to use it.

As you may remember from a previous post, I made a raspberry rhubarb crisp last summer and loved it, so I decided to try raspberry-rhubarb cupcakes and use the same topping from the crisp for my frosting. It's called Devonshire cream, and it's basically a sweeter, thicker whipped cream. My mother-in-law is actually the one who introduced me to it and gave me the recipe, so it seemed fitting.

I was worried the cupcakes would be too tart, but they came out amazing; I think it was because I created a compote with the fruit before adding it to the mix, which seemed to get rid of the tanginess. Also, my Devonshire cream ended up as more of a glaze, but it still tasted great, so I was happy.

Here's the recipe:

Raspberry-Rhubarb Cupcake Recipe (adapted from Betty Crocker's strawberry-rhubarb cupcake recipe; makes 12 cupcakes)

Compote Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sliced fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup chopped fresh/frozen rhubarb
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter/margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter/margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  1. Make fruit compote: Add compote ingredients to a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 and line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.
  3. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Take out 2 tbsp of compote for frosting (I took it out to keep proportions correct but didn't use it in my frosting).
  5. In another small bowl, stir remaining compote, milk and vanilla.
  6. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add egg and beat until blended.
  7. Add half of flour mixture and half of fruit mixture, beating well after each addition. Repeat with the remaining mixtures. Batter should be thick.
  8. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the strength of your oven (mine is extra hot and finished in about 17 minutes). If you insert a toothpick in the cupcake, it should come out mostly clean.
  9. Remove cupcakes and let them cool before frosting.

Devonshire Cream "Glaze" Recipe

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whip cream and set aside.
  2. Cream sugar and cream cheese with mixer.
  3. Add whipped cream and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Refrigerate.

Up next is Mr. G's birthday on the 22nd, and I'm already brainstorming ideas for his dessert... His birthday is actually on a Saturday this year, so we'll be going to a football game with a bunch of friends; it should be a really fun day, and the lucky boy gets his fancy new grill soon! :) After that is my mom's birthday, and I wished she lived closer so that I could bake something for her.

As for other September events, Mr. G and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary on the 4th. It was the Tuesday after Labor Day (lame), so we stayed at home and recreated our wedding meal (quite successfully, I'll say), drank some wine, baked cookies and watched a movie. It was perfect. Then we celebrated in style the following weekend with a trip to Stillwater: we toured a vineyard (see pic above!), stayed at a charming B&B, ate a delicious dinner at a wine bar (best tenderloin I've ever had) and did some window shopping. All in all, we had an amazing anniversary week. Each year, the bar gets raised... These past 2 years will be hard to beat!

Not gonna lie: I LOVE September, but my wallet and my waistline are looking forward to October. ;)

<3 Mrs. G


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