Tuesday, May 19, 2015

KEY LIME PAVLOVA

Key Lime Pavlova | Club Narwhal

Oh, happy day! Warren and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary with this gorgeous, tropical Key Lime Pavlova! Well, technically our anniversary isn't until Friday, but I couldn't wait to share this beaut with you all. 

Also, it is totally unbelievable to me that we have been married for five years. I can't even remember what my life was like pre-Warren. There were a lot less pie and fries, that's for sure...

We love looking at our wedding photos around this time each year and reliving the magic. I'm so glad that my dear friend (the fabulously talented Meg Ruth Photo who also made this ridiculously awesome whale quilt for our little bebe) was able to take them for us. They are absolute treasures. 

Amy and Warren Wedding Photo by Meg Ruth Photo

But back to pavlova. Guys, pavlova is the dreamiest (in its mini state or not). Think whipped clouds. The best campfire marshmallows. Or basically any other perfect thing in the world.

Warren remains the meringue whisperer in our house and it's a job I gladly turn over to him. Making meringue just makes me all kinds of anxious. But when a marvel like this eventually appears, I get crazy happy.

Pavlova Meringue

Then pile that crispy on the outside pillowy soft on the inside pavlova with homemade lime curd.

Whoa, nelly.

Key Lime Pavlova | Club Narwhal
Take another second and remember five years of loveliness.

And what it was like to be young and in love in D.C. Oh, Old Town Alexandria, how I miss thee.

Amy and Warren Wedding Photo by Meg Ruth Photo

Then get back to that whole pavlova business.

You could eat the pavlova with just that layer of lime curd and never go back. But since we go all out when we celebrate life things, we double-tiered this baby.

And added white chocolate whipped cream.

And blackberry sauce.

Go big or go home.

Key Lime Pavlova | Club Narwhal

And then we stacked it all over again, creating a little bit of paradise with this two-tiered Key Lime Pavlova.

Key Lime Pavlova | Club Narwhal

Sure, single-tier pavlovas are all well and good, but when you cut into this double decker, the world pauses for a second to take it all in.

How could it not?

This Key Lime Pavlova is an ode to all the things Warren loves--key lime pie, white chocolate, meringe, and Nilla wafer crusts. While traditional key lime pies use graham cracker crusts, Warren is adamant that it should be Nilla wafers.

And hey, I don't argue with the pie expert.

Key Lime Pavlova | Club Narwhal


While we didn't spend this lovely fifth anniversary in an exotic locale (like Korea or Morocco--I mean, it's hard to top camel trekking through the Sahara on one's anniversary), we are happy nesting and prepping for the next big adventure in our lives.

I still am totally worried about how this whole parenting thing will go but knowing that Warren will be by my side throughout it all makes my heart rest so much easier. He is one gem of a man and I'm lucky to be loved by him.

Wishing you all the sweetest kind of week!

Amy & Warren Wedding by Meg Ruth Photo
All Wedding Photos by Meg Ruth Photo


Key Lime Pavlova


*Note: Prepare the lime curd and white chocolate whipped cream (only the ganache portion) the night before you make the pavlova, as they need to cool completely. If you want to use regular whipped cream to save on time, it will be just as tasty!

For the Lime Curd
Adapted from Crazy for Crust

3 large eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
zest of 1 large lime
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Put eggs, sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest in a medium saucepan; whisk until smooth. Place over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in butter. Put lime curd in a separate bowl, cover, and refrigerate over night.

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream
Adapted from What the Fork

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)

Make the white chocolate ganache the day: Put half of the cream in a glass, microwave-safe bowl. Heat for one minute, until cream is hot. Stir in white chocolate chips, until smooth (it might clump up on you, but keep stirring--it will eventually smooth). Cover and chill ganache in the refrigerator over night.

When you are ready to assemble the pavlova, beat the white chocolate ganache until light and fluffy (2 minutes). Add remaining cream and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

For the Pavlova
Adapted from Ina Garten

*Note: This recipe makes enough for a two-tiered pavlova. If you only want to make one, use 4 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

6 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan. Use the base of an 8 or 9-inch spring-form pan to trace two circles on a sheet of parchment paper (I used an 8-inch). Flip the parchment paper so the pencil markings are on the bottom. Alternatively, you can skip the tracing step and just eyeball how large or small you want your pavlovas to be.

To make the pavlova, place the egg whites and salt in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Whisk on high for 1 minute then slowly add the sugar (with the mixer still running). Whisk for another 3-5 minutes, until stiff peaks form (the meringue will not slop back down into the bowl with you lift a beater out.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle cornstarch on the meringue. Add the vinegar (you won't taste this when it is baked, it just helps stabilize the mixture) and vanilla. Fold everything in with a rubber spatula.

Spoon mixture into a large ziplock bag (so you can more easily pipe out small circle) or use a large spoon to create pavlova circles on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake for 60 minutes then turn off the oven and let the meringue cool completely. It will be crisp on the outside an a little gooey on the inside (if you over bake them, you'll just get cute little meringues, which are just as tasty so don't worry!).

Blackberry Sauce

3/4 cup blackberry preserves
1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Heat blackberry preserves in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir in blackberries.

To Assemble

2 pavlova rounds
1 batch lime curd
1 batch white chocolate whipped cream
1 batch blackberry jam
1/2 cup Nilla wafer crumbs
fresh blackberries and lime slices for topping

Layer the pavlova as follows: pavlova, half of the lime curd, half of the Nilla wafer crumbs, half of the white chocolate whipped cream, and half of the blackberry sauce. Repeat once more and top with blackberries and lime slices.


Are we pin pals yet? Let's make it Pinterest official! 

Check out my Project Yum board for more sweet ideas. 



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Thursday, May 14, 2015

TULUM & PLAYA TORTUGAS | MEXICO

Mexico | Tulum Ruins

Oh, Tulum! What a glorious, glorious place. What with its white sand beach, crashing waves, and all sorts of cliffside ocean views. I can totally see why Mayans set up camp here. True, it's got nothing on Tikal or Copan  (and yes, my heart still weeps over our stolen camera because we have basically no photos of those beautiful ruins)--but man, Tulum wins on the location front for sure.

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

I mean, really? Slow clap, Tulum, slow clap indeed. 

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

For whatever reason, in college I got super into Latin American history and studied with a professor who was all kinds of an expert when it came to the Mayan civilization. I remember gazing at photo after photo of ruins and telling myself that, yes, one day I would see them.

It only took a decade, but it was so worth the wait. 

View from Tulum Ruins

Also, I wasn't kidding about the iguanas I mentioned last week. They are essentially like squirrels--just absolutely everywhere in the ruins. We loved seeing them perched on top of the ruins because they blended right in with the rocks so they looked like they were part of the ruins themselves.

This guy was a big honker and super protective of his territory. Though that didn't stop a scrappy three-legged one from trying to get all up in his grill. Maybe that's how it lost that leg?

Iguana at Tulum Ruins

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

This guy is just the corner of a building. Because why not?

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

Yep, pregnant. Probably the only photo from the past 32 weeks that actually looks like I am kind of pregnant. I'm posting it here as historic proof. 

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

And how could I not leave photographic evidence of Warren's infamous fisherman's cap? That hat is the bane of my existence and Warren takes endless joy in wearing it on all our travels. Remember when he sported it in Machu Picchu, as a tribute to when he purchased it there years ago? Do you see how much glee he takes in wearing it? Horrific :)

Tulum Ruins | Mexcio

After we explored Tulum, we went to Playa Torgugas to swim with the sea turtles! And, guys, they are so amazing, beautiful, gentle, and all around awesome. Some of them were so large you could basically set your dinner table on their shells. I loved how chill they were, just grazing on the sea grass without even batting an eye at all the crazy humans splashing over them. 

I don't know why it is so fun to swim with large water creatures (one of the best days of my life was when we swam with manatees in Florida) but I just can't get enough! One day I'll swim with whale sharks. It was out of season this trip, or else I would have been all over that.

Tortugas Beach | Mexico

Oh, and this is a view from our AirBNB balcony. We highly approved. 


Well, that's a wrap from Cancun. It was such a lovely babymoon and I love that I've still got tan lines from the trip. Especially since the sun has virtually disappeared these last few days in Michigan.

Isla Mjueres | Cancun



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SHRIMP SLIDERS

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

Are you pro shrimp or anti? I feel like shrimp are one of those divisive foods (much like brownies) and--no matter where you stand on the great divide--you probably have Very Strong Feelings about the peachy shellfish. Warren, for instance, cannot abide by the stuff. Like Jim Gaffigan in his hilarious Food: A Love Story, Warren believes shrimp are tantamount to sea bugs and cannot fathom why I take such great pleasure consuming the crazy looking creatures by the pound.

Me, I am a shrimp fan. Scratch that, I am a shrimp Super Fan. I like them beer-battered, sauteed, cold slathered in cocktail sauce, wrapped in corn tortillas, or simmered in chowder. I like them served with grits (or spoonbread) and I really like them boiled with potatoes and corn and thrown down the middle of a picnic table at a low country boil

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

So when my grandma and aunt took me to their favorite shrimp burger place in Amelia Island, I knew I had to recreate those glorious things in the comfort of my own kitchen. What blew all of us away was how perfectly shrimp-y Tasty's burgers were. Each burger was basically shrimp, held together by what seemed like a miracle (no heavy fillers), served with a heaping pile of fries. Simple is best, don't you think?

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

Since I could pretty much have consumed my weight in shrimp burgers, I thought it would be fun to revamp them into cute little sliders. That way I could eat even more. Plus, toasting baby ciabattas is just plain adorable. 

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

Do you see how shrimp-y these are? Chunks of sweet shrimp held together by a batter of cornstarch, mayo, and egg = true love. I did add some panko for a little crunch and to help the patties fry up even more golden and beautiful. 

I can imagine these babies would taste even better with some minced jalapeno or even mango. Not that I need any more excuses to make these!

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

And while Herbed Bistro Fries would be an undeniably perfect companion to these sliders, I kept things simple and just ripped open a bag of my favorite wavy chips. Why is it that wavy potato chips just taste better than non-wavy? 

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

So there you have it, my ode to shrimp and shrimp burgers. And potato chips. Just imagine digging into this while ocean waves crash around you and the sun toasts your skin to a golden, golden brown

Dreamy times infinity, yes?

Shrimp Sliders | Club Narwhal

Shrimp Sliders

Adapted from Today's Parent

1 pound raw large peeled shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg white
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
mini ciabatta buns
more  mayonnaise and lettuce for topping

Roughly chop shrimp into 1/2-inch chunks (make sure to keep the pieces, well, chunky, not minced) and sprinkle with cornstarch, lime zest, and salt. Mix mayo and egg white together and add to the shrimp mixture. Fold in green onion and Panko. Put mixture in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to make the patties easier to handle.

Heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Form shrimp mix (it will be quite sticky) into slider-size discs and fry until golden brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Serve on toasted ciabatta smeared with mayo and topped with leafy lettuce. A side of potato chips helps it all go down even better!

Are you a sea bug fan? Check out my Under the Sea Pinterest board for more ideas!



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