Friday, August 7, 2015

Just A Little Obsessed ... Extending My Birthday Into December 2015

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you are a regular reader of LilyOnTheLam.com, you may have your suspicions that I may be a little unhinged.  Off kilter.  Nuts.  Insane.  Narcissistic.  Egomaniacal.  To paraphrase Billy Joel, you may be wrong but you may be right.

Last year, the super fantastic bakery Sweet Tweets Cakery in Tampa, Florida made my birthday cake.  I modeled it off Angelina Jolie's birthday cake because you know, she and I are so much alike.  It was a purple cake with the cutest figure of Maleficent the witch from Sleeping Beauty on it.  Dare I say that Sweet Tweets' replica was even better than Angelina's.  (Hey she has Brad Pitt, so I at least can get a better looking cake - RIGHT?)  See the GORGEOUS cake by clicking here.    

This year I wanted to do something equally as wacky and wonderful with Sweet Tweets Cakery for my birthday.  But I have family coming to visit at Christmas and I thought if I am going to do a big, over the top, gorgeously decorated cake - I should do it when the people I love most in the world are with me to enjoy it.  And to celebrate all things me.  

Plus my family's birthdays are all within a few months of Christmas, so basically it's like a joint birthday celebration.  Except I'm the star.  All about me.  Got it?  I'll let my family have some cake, but let's not forget who it really is all about ... me.  YES, ME!

So basically I issued a royal proclamation extending my summer birthday all the way into December 2015.  Doesn't everybody do this at one time or another?  

Next, I needed an idea to top the Maleficent cake of last year.  But what to do ... what to do ...

Photo from Sweet Tweets Cakery

I am half-Asian and my maternal family lives in Taiwan.  If you go to the Taipei airport, one of the many "Made in Taiwan" products they offer for you to take home as a souvenir gift is Taiwanese pineapple cakes.  Think a bigger "Fig Newton" cookie stuffed with a pineapple jelly-type substance.  When they are fresh and good quality, they are pretty tasty.

Also one of my Aunts worked in a Taiwanese factory that canned pineapple in the summer and mushrooms in the winter.  I was maybe 4 or 5 years old when I went to visit the factory.  I remember they gave me a cup of hot chocolate when all I wanted was to fill my greedy little hands with as much pineapple and mushrooms as I could get.  It's amazing what weird things I remember from my weird youth.

Now perhaps this love for pineapple drove my decision on what my next birthday cake will be.  Or perhaps it was really my love of drag queens ...

You see, I am an ardent watcher of RuPaul Drag Race.  On one of the seasons, there was an Asian drag queen from Minnesota named Manila Luzon.  I was instantly obsessed.  I too am from Minnesota and am Asian.  Plus Manila Luzon's real name is Karl ... and um that has four letters and Lily also has four letters, so basically Manila Luzon should be my new BFF, right?  OK maybe I'm not THAT obsessed, but I love his work.  I am definitely a "Manila Fanila."  

Plus I absolutely died when Manila Luzon came out on RuPaul Drag Race wearing THIS number ...


It's a PINEAPPLE DRESS ... with pineapple ring earrings and a PINEAPPLE PURSE!  Seriously, is there anything better than that?  It's so camp and yet Manila made it look high fashion!  I instantly began following Manila on Instagram.  Then one day, this was posted ... a reference photo of a Manila Luzon doll on Etsy from Monoped Creations.


A gentleman in Australia sells "amigurumi" - which I have no idea what that means but I consider it to mean "awesome little dolls that look like drag queens from RuPaul Drag Race."  I love the ones of Raja, Pearl, Gia Gunn ... I love them all too much.  I knew I had to have the Manila Luzon one AND I suddenly knew what I wanted on my next birthday cake!

Yes, I am 987 years old and I ordered this little doll of a drag queen all the way from Australia.  I'm obsessed.  And weird.  But when we're talking about inspiration for a cake, doesn't the end justify the means?  Come on, people!

Manila Luzon Pineapple Dress by Monoped Creations

So Sweet Tweets Cakery, I am putting you on NOTICE!  This December, I'll be contacting you to make me a Manila Luzon topped birthday cake.  Are you up for the challenge?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Welcome To A Day of Pork, Gluttony and Lust: Orlando, Florida

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I consider myself a woman of my word, except when I am making promises to myself.  A friend and I agreed to do four 5Ks this year.  She currently has three under her belt.  I have two completed and one scheduled for December, but I find myself shockingly lackluster about trying to schedule one more in between August and the end of the year.  (Hello epitome of LAZY!)  

This same friend is considering making a pledge of doing 12 5Ks next year.  This friend is bat sh*t cray cray.  (Kidding!  Maybe ...)  I am hoping I will get a surge of commitment but right now I really enjoy sitting on my couch.

However last weekend, I was more energetic and participated with afore-mentioned friend (Miss Cray Cray) in the Great American Bacon Race in Orlando, Florida.  (Which by the way, comes to Tampa on October 3.  So all of my Tampa friends who said after the race, "Oh I would have done it with you" - have ZERO EXCUSE because the race is now coming to their backyard!


The race is for both runners and walkers alike.  It is a timed race, which always spurs my competitive side.  At one point Miss Cray Cray said "Save yourself!" which is our signal that I can go ahead and pass all the people I need to in a fervent need to beat at least some of the racers to the finish line.

At each mile mark of the 5K race, there is a "bacon station" (three total) where you grab a piece of bacon and keep going.  

First bacon station!

The final bacon station!

The third bacon station is at the finish line.  They not only have bacon but a giant vat of melted chocolate and a "topping bar" with various seasonings to flavor your bacon.  
Chocolate dipping station for Chocolate covered BACON

Topping Bar

I kept my bacon "real" and didn't add chocolate or seasonings.  I will say that stopping for bacon each mile didn't exactly make my stomach happy, but it was BACON ... so I did it anyway.  I received a giant finishers' medal and a pork-themed race t-shirt.  What more could you want out of life?

Evidently the answer to that question is: MORE PORK.  Because after the race, Miss Cray Cray and I went to one of my favorite Winter Park, Florida restaurants: "The Ravenous Pig."  We met up with another friend (Mr. Happy) who was ready to get his pork on as the Ravenous Pig was having its annual pig roast lunch.  Mr. Happy also ordered the truffle fries- which are AMAZING and Miss Cray Cray and I ate our share and then some!

Pork Roast Feast at Ravenous Pig

Truffle Fries
Lunch at The Ravenous Pig was awesome as always, but my most favorite part of the meal was the bacon-laden collard greens.  They were so vinegar-y with a spicy kick.  I could have eaten a vat of them.  It's too bad this was a special one-day only menu because I would go back for more of those collard greens!

So Bacon 5K, then a pork barbecue lunch ... that's enough pork for one person, right?

Au contraire!

Before heading back to Tampa, I convinced Miss Cray Cray that we needed to do dessert and then get PORK to-go orders at Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa in the Mills 50 region of Orlando, Florida.  For two reasons: 1) it consistently gets great reviews for best new barbecue restaurant and 2) I think the owner is super hot.  

What can I say?  

I love barbecue and good looking tall men.  

Is that a crime, people? 

Miss Cray Cray and I were very excited that Pig Floyd's offers two delightful sounding desserts that we could share.  They have the Black and Tan which is chocolate chip blondie chunks, Mexican chocolate sauce, cookies and cream pudding and then topped with a generous cap of whipped cream.  The other dessert is the Cuban Banana Bread Pudding - homemade cinnamon and lemon custard, bananas, Nilla wafers and topped with whipped cream.  

However Pig Floyd's was out of the Cuban Banana Bread Pudding when we arrived!  Waaaaah!  So we each had the Black and Tan which was decadence in a little mason jar!

Black and Tan Dessert at Pig Floyd's

The über handsome Pig Floyd's owner was standing at the bar while I tried to tone down my CRAZY STALKER EYES.  For those who don't know, I tend to have insane stalker eyes when I am around people like comedian Margaret Cho, Season Five RuPaul Drag Race drag queen Jinkx Monsoon and really hot barbecue restaurant owners.  

Miss Cray Cray laughed at me - which I know secretly meant "You can try to tone down your crazy eyes all you want, but you're still screaming CRAZY STALKER EYES!"  

The owner did come over to see how we were doing - and I think I said something like "fabulous and delicious" in a ridiculously over the top, falsetto, enthusiastic voice.  (Tone it down, crazy stalker!)  I have zero game ... but I did have a really great dessert.

For take-out, I tried Pig Floyd's pulled pork, brisket and their version of "street corn" grilled corn on the cob with chili, lime and cotija cheese.  I would like to go back and try their take on a barbecue bahn mi sandwich.  I would also like to go back and continue staring at the adorable owner with my crazy stalker eyes.  The pulled pork was delicious, but of the meats the brisket was my favorite.  (Although I have to say that Four Rivers Smokehouse's brisket is better if you like more of a fatty mouthfeel.  But if you like leaner, more smoked flavor in your brisket - go with Pig Floyd's.)  

But the CORN ... oh my God, my favorite "street corn" is from Casa Tina Mexican Restaurant in Dunedin but Pig Floyd's grilled corn was insanely amazing.  I seriously would go back just for more of that grilled corn (and the dreamy owner too ... but primarily the corn ... well sort of.)

So basically last weekend was all about Orlando, Florida; pork products; gluttony and lust.  That's a pretty darn good weekend in my book!

As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Peeps for Fall and the movie "The Gift"

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I cannot believe it is August already!  This summer has just flown by!  I am gearing up for my next great adventure, trying to savor every last moment of summer.

Last night, I went to an advanced screening of the movie "The Gift."  The invitees were "press and tastemakers."  So I guess I am a tastemaker?!  I am going to start handing out business cards that say "Lily On The Lam, Tastemaker."  (That will make me even weirder than I already am!)  Well I loved, loved, loved the movie.  Joel Edgerton plays "Gordon" a former high school classmate of Jason Bateman's character.  But evidently Gordon was known as "Gordo the Weirdo" and instantly latches on to Jason Bateman's character and his wife.  Then mayhem ensues ...

I was impressed that star Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and produced the movie.  He's more than just a pretty face (although in "The Gift" he is more creepy than pretty.)  My friend and I screamed twice during the movie.  Psychological, suspense thrillers freak me out - but I kind of love it too.    There were some nice twists and turns in the movie.  I definitely did not guess the surprises ahead of time.  

At the end of the movie, each guest was presented with "a gift."  The movie was so psychologically jarring that I turned to my friend and said "Is it weird that I am scared to open this?"


But some tiny part of me is brave and I opened the box, bracing for a tiny severed head or a monkey (see the movie and you'll know why I thought it might be a monkey).  But turns out it was four pieces of chocolate - which was the perfect dessert after jumping in your seat screaming during a movie!

So thank you, fine folks at AMC for the free screening.  My friend and I very much appreciated it.  

In keeping with the "what sugar can I put in my belly" theme, I was very excited to read The Huffington Post's review on the autumnal Marshmallow Peeps flavors.  The Caramel Apple and Pumpkin Spice sound intriguing.  The Candy Corn ones do not.  I will paraphrase my friend Miss Ohio: "Why do food companies keep trying to make one food taste like another food?  Maybe they should just make food that tastes like it is supposed to ..."  (Examples:  root beer float-tasting chocolate chip cookies and candy corn flavored Oreos.)  True, true but I still want to get my hands on some of those fall flavored Peeps!  Have you tried any of them?  Share your feedback on Peeps or the movie "The Gift" below!  

And as always, thank you for reading!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Squeaky Swings: Jalapeno Ranch Summer Corn Salad for Two Recipe

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I am obsessed with sweet corn.  Actually, I am obsessed with all things starchy carbs - but that's a story for my Carbaholics Anonymous group.  When I was recently in Rio De Janeiro, I was IN LOVE that there was a boiled corn cart on every corner.  I sat in the hot sun, eating a heavily buttered, heavily salted corn on the cob and watched very muscular, almost naked men play volleyball.  Heaven.  

Recently, my fabulous friends have been taking me out for all sorts of lovely dinners in honor of my 997th birthday.  Ms. Corporate Sassy took me out to our favorite lunchtime spot - J. Alexander's in Tampa, Florida - which apparently now is being called Redlands Grill.  I am not a big corporate chain restaurant girl, but I make exceptions for J.Alexander's (and Capitol Grille ... and Bonefish ... and Houston's ... and Cheesecake Factory if I am craving 90,000 calorie cheesecake slices ... OK maybe I do like chain restaurants!)

Poor Ms. Corporate Sassy, she picked a day to take me out when I was craving FILET MIGNON.  I am going to have to take her to Bern's Steakhouse or another of our favorites Cafe Ponte, when it is her birthday because let me tell you my birthday lunch was EXPENSIVE.  

Side note: Because Tampa lost against Chicago in the Stanley Cup, I now have to take my little sister to Bern's Steakhouse for a free steak dinner on me.  My wallet is already shaking because that tiny little girl has been known to put away the most expensive steaks on any menu.  But I am happy for ANY EXCUSE to go to Bern's Steakhouse.  It may look like a cross between Disney's Haunted Mansion and a bordello on the inside and look like a warehouse from the outside, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the entire world - and that is saying something because I eat out A LOT!    

Anyway, back to my lunch with Ms. Corporate Sassy - J. Alexander's side of the day was a sautéed corn.  Given my love for all starchy carbs, I had to order it - in addition to my excellent filet mignon and loaded baked potato bigger than my head.  It arrived with julienned slices of zucchini in it.  Which I totally DID NOT UNDERSTAND.  Overcooked zucchini has a slimy texture which did not pair well with the crisp, sweet, bursting with goodness summer corn.  Pairing fail.  But I still ate it up heartily!  Yum!

When I was driving back from my birthday weekend in Boca Raton, one thought kept flashing through my tiny brain: "when I get back to Tampa, I want corn on the cob with herb butter."  Yes, some people spend their time thinking about world peace.  I spend my time thinking about corn.

I whipped up a giant pot of boiled corn - more corn than a single lady with 900 cats should ever cook.  I decided that with some of the leftover ears of corn, I would make a summer corn salad.  Even though I am 1,029 years old, I have never made a corn salad before.  Or at least I don't think I have ... when you're this old, memories start to fade.  I have to be careful what declarations I make, because you never know when someone from my past is going to jump out of the woodwork and scream "J'accuse!  You made a corn salad in 1997!"  It could happen.  You never know.

So with that, I made my "Jalapeño Ranch Summer Corn Salad For Two" recipe.


It tastes better than it looks

Which by the way, "Summer Corn" makes me think of the Death Cab For Cutie song "Summer Skin."  Death Cab for Cutie chose their band name from the headlines of a tabloid. Apparently an attractive woman in a taxi died or almost died - so it was "death cab for cutie."  Probably not a good incident for the woman, but a catchy tabloid headline and a better band name.

The song starts out with the lyrics "Squeaky swings and tall grass ..." and it reminds me of summer and love and heartache.



Let me tell you - I may be a corn purist - just some sweet corn, a little butter, a little salt ... but this "Jalapeño Ranch Summer Corn Salad" recipe is DELICIOUS!  Try it out!

Feel free to share this recipe, but please include the link and a created by "LilyOnTheLam.com" when you share PLEASE.

Jalapeño Ranch Summer Corn Salad for Two by LilyOnTheLam.com

Ingredients:
2 ears of summer sweet corn that have been fully cooked either by boiling or steaming and then chilled to room temperature (or refrigerated overnight)
6 mini assorted red, yellow and orange peppers (or 1 medium green bell pepper), diced fine
2 Tbsp. finely diced red onion (or more- depending on your tastes)
1/2 a large lime
3 heaping tablespoons pico de gallo or a chunky medium salsa, drained
2 tablespoons Jalapeno ranch salad dressing (or use regular ranch and put in some finely diced jalapeños).  I use "Naturally Fresh Jalapeño Ranch Dressing" (from the refrigerated section) because I think it is tasty!
1 heaping tablespoon Duke's Mayonnaise (or other fine quality Southern mayo)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 - 1/4 c. shredded aged cheddar (OPTIONAL)

How To:
1) Cut the kernels from the ears of sweet corn.  Use your fingers to break up the corn into individual kernels, if necessary.
2) Add diced bell peppers, red onion, the juice of 1/2 a large lime, the pico de gallo, Jalapeño ranch salad dressing and mayonnaise.  If you don't mind the extra calories, add some shredded cheddar cheese.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.
3)  You may wish to add more Jalapeño ranch dressing and mayo if you like a "saucier" salad.  Also feel free to use less.
4) Mix well.
5)  Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a couple hours.

If you wish, you can add more shredded aged cheddar cheese and serve this on fried corn tortilla chips as a "summer corn dip."
  
In a Tostitos Scoop shell - perfect appetizer!


This salad would also be great with some fresh lobster, crab or shrimp folded in.

Otherwise it is delicious as a side salad or accompaniment to grilled meat.

I loooooove this summer corn salad.  I hope you like it too!  Thanks for reading!

P.S. I have not been compensated by Naturally Fresh or Duke's for naming their products in my recipe - just sharing information on what brands I used.