With every season, there’s a cake!

Every season has a dessert that pairs well with it. For winter, there is always the infamous Red Velvet Cake (if you are from the South) or Gingerbread cake. For spring, coconut cake and any cake that uses a seasonal fruit generally rules. Fall always brings apple cake or cakes involving pumpkin. These cakes are generally the “little black dresses” for each season.

However, summer generally follows the spring trend of cakes utilizing seasonal fruit. That was until Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe that should be the cake of summer. When you think of summer, you think of fruity beverages, like Piña Coladas and Margaritas.

I made the Piña Colada Cake for a family gathering, and it is an easy recipe to make.  This cake received rave reviews for the most part, and it definitely will be in my collection for summer desserts.

As a twist to this recipe, I added 1 tbsp. Cream of Coconut and 1 tbsp. Pineapple Juice to the Powdered Sugar for the glaze.  The only thing that could have made this cake better was increasing the rum in the cake batter.  I used Dark Rum for the cake, and I realized that I could increase the tropical feel by adding Coconut or Mango rum to the mix.

Otherwise, this was a great cake recipe.

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The Unofficial Start of Summer

Lately, I have been on the road traveling to visit family, but also getting away from it all. Needless to say, I have been yearning for a weekend to cook at home and enjoy the company of friends to balance the chaos that has been occurring in life lately. Well, I have finally had the opportunity to jump back into the kitchen to prepare a good meal.

This weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to have a mini picnic at a local park to celebrate the beautiful weather we had over the weekend. For starters, our menu included homemade guacamole, burgers, Italian Sausage with peppers and onions, and rum-soaked berry shortcake. Along with the meats, guacamole, and shortcake, we had great wine and conversation.

We started with the guacamole. I love guacamole, as it is a cool, refreshing dip with a lot of healthy stuff in it. Paired with a multigrain tortilla chip, you have a good nutritional snack. We also had deviled eggs, which I ate, since BF does not eat them. Deviled eggs mark summer picnics, and Whole Foods has some of the best.

Before leaving, I began to prep the rum-soaked berries. After removing the stems and halving strawberries, I added blueberries to be combined with 2 oz. dark rum and 1/4 c. sugar. After stirring the berries with the rum mixture, it was off to the refrigerator to chill until later in the evening.

After preparing the dessert, I moved on to working on the peppers and onions. I started off with 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil to heat in a skillet. Once the skillet was warm, I added the onions (coarsely sliced), one red bell pepper (sliced), and one green bell pepper (sliced). I cooked until the peppers and onions were soft. The onions were beginning to caramelize.

While the peppers were cooking, I diced an onion and combined it with a pound of ground beef. In addition to the onion, I added some bread crumbs, Penzey’s Smoky 3S seasoning, and pepper.  I made mini hamburgers that I would be taking with us (along with the sausages), since the apartment complex does not allow grills.

Thankfully, our friend came to join us for the picnic, because we could not eat all of the food alone. Our friend brought a bottle of wine as a gift. Monte Ducay Tinto Pergamino is a smooth tasting wine with hints of cherry. This wine was a beautiful red that paired well with the two meats, but it was perfectly fine to drink alone.

I also had some leftover Church Creek 2009 Cabernet Franc. Two weekends ago, I traveled to the Eastern Shore of Virginia to visit three wineries and enjoy some time away from the hectic pace of the DC Metro area. The Church Creek label is made by Chatham Vineyards, and this winery offers great wines. The Cabernet Franc is a smooth tasting wine with hints of raspberry. It was aged in French oak for nine months. This wine pairs well with Italian dishes, in addition to some good barbecue. We had the wine with the burgers, and it was a great way to finish the bottle.

Overall, you can’t complain about the unofficial start of summer. Picnics, good food, great wine, and tons of great company create memories to come.

Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. Vidalia Onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
Cilantro to taste

First, cut avocados and scrape the avocado out into a bowl, mash the avocado and squeeze the juice from the lime onto the mashed avocado. Add the minced garlic clove, onion, tomatoes, diced jalapeno, cumin, and cilantro. Continue to combine all ingredients, and promptly serve.

Have a great summer! I will try to have some more updates in the next few days from my travels, including two winery reviews and some more innovative ideas from the kitchen.