27 August 2010

Gigi's Cupcakes

Tonight my very sweet friend brought me six of the most delicious cupcakes I have ever had. Gigi's Cupcakes are packaged in this adorable green-and-brown gift box.


Every one of these cupcakes is moist and delectable. I am not usually a fan of icing, because icing is typically made with shortening and is waxy and tasteless. Gigi's icing, however, is all either buttercream or cream cheese based. Gigi's heaps their incredibly creamy icing on each fantastic cupcake.

Clockwise from top-left, we have Pina Colada, Strawberry Shortcake, Tiger Tails, Key Lime, Carrot Cake, and Midnight Magic.

My sweet friend provided a review of each one:
Pina Colada: "Like a pina colada, it was like a pina colada in cupcake form, complete with a cherry and an umbrella on top!" This one was my favorite. Pineapple is a perfect flavor this time of year.
Strawberry Shortcake: "True to its name, the cake was a vanilla cake with real strawberries on the inside, with a lightly flavored strawberry icing."
Tiger Tails: "Supposedly, this was raspberry-infused coconut on top of vanilla icing on top of vanilla cake, but we couldn't taste the raspberry." This reminded me of Hostess Sno Balls snack cakes.
Key Lime: "Sweeter icing with a tangy cupcake. Not your typical mix, but extremely good. Comes complete with pie crust and gummy lime candy on top!"
Carrot Cake: "A perfect way to introduce fall - a moist carrot cake with true cream cheese frosting." I thought the carrots were a little too crunchy, but it was still very sweet and yummy.
Midnight Magic: "A cupcake that is truly magical! Dark chocolate cake topped with creamy icing and chocolate chips."

Gigi's Cupcakes: Highly Recommended
1977 South Hurstbourne Parkway
Louisville, KY 40220-1645
502-499-4998

26 August 2010

Tucci Benucch

Minneapolis is home to the Mall of America.
As one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, Mall of America® features something for everyone – over 520 stores, 50 restaurants and attractions galore, including Nickelodeon Universe®, the nation’s largest Nickelodeon® theme park. Plus there’s no sales taxon clothing or shoes!
On the main level of the mall, just inside the West entrance, is tucked a fabulous Italian restaurant. Tucci Benucch is styled like a cozy countryside home, with unique dining areas like a sunroom, living room, and patio.


Everyone gets to start their meal with a basket of soft, flavorful bread and a dipping dish of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and shredded Parmesan cheese.


I ordered the Bruschetta appetizer with hand-pulled mozzarella, fresh tomato, basil, and aged balsamic vinegar on toasted Italian bread rounds.


For my entree, I had the Tortellini Tucci, cheese-filled tortellini with prosciutto di Parma, roasted mushrooms, peas, and Alfredo sauce. The server topped my dish with cracked black pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese. This dish was creamy, filling, and comforting.

Tucci Benucch: Highly Recommended
Mall of America
114 W. Market
Bloomington, MN 55425
952-853-0200

25 August 2010

Houlihan's

Wednesday, I went to an old favorite, a chain restaurant called Houlihan's. Just walking in, you might expect it to be a local joint. The dining room and bar are styled with rich, dark woods and low lighting with individual lights at each table.

Houlihan's dinner menu is divided into the usual sections, with an new "Small Plates" menu in test at that location. These smaller items can be shared by the table, or you can order 2-4 of them as a full meal.

Tuscan White Bean Salad with goat cheese, tomatoes, balsamic, and focaccia crisps.

Grilled Shrimp Azteca with guacamole, sweet corn tamale cake, and pico de gallo.

For dessert (the only thing I remembered to photograph), I had S'mores!

S’mores Fondue Crock with warm chocolate ganache under melty marshmallows, with crystalized graham cracker sticks and strawberries for dipping. Yum!!

Houlihan's: Highly Recommended
12725 Elm Creek Blvd N
Maple Grove, MN 55369
763-494-5380

24 August 2010

Hell's Kitchen

Tonight, I dined in Hell.

Hell's Kitchen, that is.

This unique restaurant is located in the basement of a building in Downtown Minneapolis, MN, under several chain restaurants that reside at street level.

This is the wall I was greeted with when I exited the elevator on the Lower Level.

















I had been to Hell's Kitchen twice before, once for breakfast (Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes) and once for dinner (BBQ Bison Bacon Burger).

The restaurant has a stage up front that features live music most evenings, including weekdays.

You might expect "dungeon" or "goth" as the theme, but the decor is classically Gothic without being overdone at all.
















On the recommendation of my server, I ordered the BBQ Baby Back Ribs. The half-slab of pork ribs were tender and flavorful, with a peppery sauce that left my lips tingling from the delicious spices.

The rib plate came with homemade coleslaw that packed a surprising spicy punch!

For the side, I chose sweet potato fries with chipotle-mayo dipping sauce. The fries were perfectly crispy and sweet - a nice compliment to the spicy meal.
















Along with the ribs, my server brought the little dish in the corner of this photo - it had a cup with a couple tablespoons of very hot water, a lemon wedge, and a tiny coin-shaped compressed towel (like this one). I was instructed to squeeze the lemon in the water and then drop in the towel. It was such a clever idea, and it was so much more effective for cleaning the 'que off my hands than the usual packaged moist towelette.
















The aftermath...
















Everything on the dessert menu looked absolutely fantastic, so I opted for the Nefarious Mystery Dessert. I was brought a moist chocolate cake topped with vanilla bean mousse icing.
















Hell's Kitchen: Highly Recommended
80 South 9th St.
Minneapolis MN 55402
612-332-4700

Flying















I just love to fly. Two hours in an airplane sure beats 14 hours in a car! Today's flight was only about half-filled, so I had a pair of seats all to myself. I started out in the aisle seat then scooted over to the window seat when I realized that no one would be sitting beside me. It was nice to actually stretch out on an airplane!















I think it's really neat when the sky is full of big, puffy clouds that you get to fly up through. The photos don't even begin to capture how cool it is to fly over a nearly solid sheet of fluffy clouds.

Linkage, Volume 124: Food I want to make

Low Country Shrimp Boil
original post: How to Host a Shrimp Boil
via Skip to My Lou

Grilled Salt-and-Vinegar Potatoes
via Flexible Dreams

Cream Cheese Mints
via Skip to My Lou

10 Minute Banana Bread
via On a Bento Frenzy

Zucchini Lasagna
original post: My Mom's Zucchini Lasagna
via Bento Babe

Cheese Straws
via Smitten Kitchen

Honey Madelines
via Serious Eats

23 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 123

My Party: Claire
the theme for a special-needs girl's second birthday party was, "life handed her lemons...she made lemonade!"
via Ohdeedoh

Cool Like You
Being Cool Has Two Rules You Must Remember
via Miss Cellania

Black Tie Beach
latest mission from Improv Everywhere, with great stories in the comments
via Improv Everywhere

18 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 122

Red Eye
illustrations from New York to Berlin
via Neatorama

Real Superheroes
costumed crusaders in the southern United States
via Miss Cellania

The Majestic Plastic Bag
a mockumentary in support of reusable bags
via Neatorama

17 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 121

Tattoo Translator
blog dedicated to translating Asian character tattoos - they don't always mean what you think they mean...
via Plime

Patterns for Colouring
free patterns to download, print, and color
via Neatorama

La vie des animaux selon les hommes
The life of an animal, interpreted by man
via Miss Cellania

12 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 120

My Space
ingenious cardboard folding playhouse
via swissmiss

"It's great to be alive!"
graphic pamphlet for children, detailing the Danger Around Every Corner
via Neatorama

Song Lyrics as Google Maps
Start in Queens, NY
1. Head Up
2. Head towards East Side
Arrive at Deluxe Apartment in the sky
via Plime

06 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 119

$0.00
letter from Comcast threatening disconnection over $0.00 past due bill
via The J-Walk Blog

Don't be a Spock
Adjust your monitor height
via Neatogeek

Home Theaters
15 impressive home theaters where you can truly escape from the real world
via Plime

02 August 2010

Linkage, Volume 118

Visual Economics: BP
What BP Could Have Bought With All the Money They Lost
via Plime

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943
stunning color photographs of rural and city life, most reproduced from slides
via Neatorama

Google Cheat Sheet
handy list of Google's most popular search tools
via swissmiss