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Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Two days/three nights on Isla Mujeres, Mexico–just a short shuttle and ferry from Cancun. A laid-back island with great beaches and plenty of culture

 

Excerpt from original post Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico 2009: Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza, and Tulum

This trip to Mexico in 2009 was one of our favorites, and Isla Mujeres is a place we always talk about going back to. I always recommend it to people looking for a quick and easy tropical vacation on a budget. It was so much less expensive than Hawaii or the Bahamas, and you can get a beautiful white sand beach and a little Mexican culture (without the mega resorts) only a half hour shuttle and a quick ferry ride away from the Cancun Airport.

 

Day 1:

We arrived in Cancun in the morning after a night flight with a layover in Miami, on the day of Paddy’s 40th birthday. Our first destination was Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. I had scheduled a shuttle with Best Day shuttles for $8.00 each to the Isla Mujeres ferry dock, and everything went as planned.

**Tip: People accept US dollars here as well as pesos. Bring some $1 bills with you so that you have some small bills to tip with when you arrive. Tipping in Mexico is a big part of the culture and will be expected. This began the second I got off the plane and went to the restroom–there was a lady handing out paper towels for tips. Tip your shuttle drivers, hotel maids, bartenders, and your restaurant servers. We always tip at least 20%.

After a 30 minute shuttle to the Isla Mujeres ferry, it wasn’t long before the next boat arrived. We purchased our tickets and got some cash from the ATM at the ferry terminal (the guidebook told us that sometimes the island ATMS occasionally run out of cash to dispense). A short ferry ride later, we walked off the pier to the town of Playa Norte and found our hotel.

Our hotel on Isla Mujeres was Suites Los Arcos in the center of town. After reading Tripadvisor reviews about street noise, we had requested a room at the back of the hotel and they honored our request. Check in was easy, and the room was immaculately clean. It was a great deal for $60 a night, with a deck, air conditioning, a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave.

Click on any image below to view larger

 

Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

Above: Suites Los Arcos from the street

Below: Room interior and deck

Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

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Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos
Suites Los Arcos Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres–Suites Los Arcos

**Note: Stock up on bottled water the second you arrive. Don’t ever drink the tap water and brush your teeth with bottled water. If venturing outside of a touristy area, don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables as they may not be treated to remove the bacteria that makes foreigners ill. Also avoid ice outside of tourist areas. You can always ask your server if the ice is purified. Be wary of crushed ice, the purified ice usually comes in the tube cubes.

After a shower and a nap, we headed out into the humidity to find some food and walk around. We had dinner at a little beach bar by the pier, then ended up having some celebratory birthday margaritas and shots at a little Tequila bar not far from our hotel. If you like tequila, I recommend Aja Toro Anejo. It’s a top shelf tequila that is very expensive in the US, but is reasonable in Mexico. It’s so smooth you can sip it.

Isla Mujeres

We arranged a snorkel tour with a guy offering snorkel tours across the street from our hotel. We had to put $20 down and then pay $20 the next day, and he wrote us a voucher. We weren’t sure what to think, but his shop was right in front of our hotel and we figured at worst we would be out $20.

Day 2:

The next morning we had some huevos rancheros at the little cafe across from our hotel and met up with the snorkel tour, which was completely legit. They took us out in a boat with some other tourists down the coast of the island, and we snorkeled back along with the current.

**Tip: I bought a waterproof waist pouch online before this trip, for storing money and keys so I didn’t have to leave valuables in the empty boat with the guides. I’m sure they were trustworthy, but you can never be too careful. Also a good idea for going into the water when at the beach. You don’t want to leave your valuables on the shore.

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

One of our guides was feeding the fish tortillas, which is why there are so many of them in this video:

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

Isla Mujeres snorkeling

After seeing lots of colorful fish, we got back in the boat and I promptly got a bad bout of motion sickness while we waited for everyone to get in the boat. Fortunately I didn’t puke, but spent some time with my head between my knees when we arrived at the beach. We stopped at a beach on the southern part of the island for a delicious barbequed  fish lunch before heading back.

After we arrived back to Playa Norte and took a rest in the air-conditioned oasis of our hotel room, we walked around the town a bit.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

I was in love with the local cemetery. The colors, individual trinkets and offerings to each person’s resting place were so personal and endearing.

Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery
Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Cemetery

Below: Handcrafted “Catrina” dolls for sale in our hotel. I really wanted to buy one, but didn’t think it would survive the trip home.

Catrina dolls, Isla Mujeres
Catrina dolls
Catrina dolls Isla Mujeres
Catrina dolls

I don’t remember what we had for dinner, but I do remember that we only spent about $15 each including drinks. I was nervous about consuming ice but whenever I asked our server if the ice was purified,(hielo purificado) it always was. We never got sick.

Day 3:

The next day was our last full day on Isla Mujeres and we weighed our options of what to do. We could either rent a golf cart (there are no cars on the island except the few owned by locals) for $40 and see the rest of the island, or we could spend the day at the gorgeous beach in the town. We opted for a beach day.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Most of the beach chairs were owned by some of the beach front hotels, but we found a row of them that were owned by the proprietor of a small restaurant on the beach. We approached the chairs and he came dashing over to explain the deal. We could sit in the chairs as long as we wanted, as long as we spent $11.00 over the course of the day. No problem at all.

Below: the view from the water facing the distant bar/restaurant that owns the beach chairs

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

Getting a chair and umbrella was imperative. The September sun was so scorching hot that even with SPF 50 sunscreen on we felt like we were going to burst into flames. When we weren’t in the water, we would move our chairs along with the shade and pull all our extremities into the shade like vampires.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

We spent the late morning and early afternoon reading and swimming and taking in the beautiful powdered sugar beach and crystal blue water. It is truly one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to. The fact that it is in the town and in walking distance from everything is a huge plus as well.

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte

The guy from the restaurant came around a few times in the morning to take orders. We weren’t hungry yet or ready for a beer and he didn’t pressure us. Around noon we asked for menus and ordered some fish tacos, nachos, beers, and margaritas. We each had a couple drinks over the afternoon, and as more people arrived we watched our poor waiter hoof it back and forth across blazing hot sand in the midday sun to fetch food and beverages for everyone. When we were ready to leave, we asked for the bill. All that –drinks, food, service, and use of beach chairs for a total of $25.00. You sure can’t get that in Hawaii. We made sure to leave a fat tip for our hard-working friend for his excellent service.

fish tacos Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Fish taco and nachos on the beach

 

That night we found an Argentinian restaurant where Paddy had a perfectly cooked filet mignon for $15.00. Gotta love Mexico.

Isla Mujeres restaurants

 

 

We will definitely be going back to Isla Mujeres. While the off-season in September was nice without the crowds, it was a bit too hot for us. Summer and early fall are the hottest months. I would like to go in June, however because summer is when whale sharks are in the area and you can take a tour out to snorkel with them. It sounds terrifying to be in the water with such huge animals, but for that kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’d suck it up and go for it.

 

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Culinary Adventures: Atlantic Beach Pie

Culinary adventures: Making Atlantic Beach Pie. This southern-style citrus pie is super easy and tastes like a big creamy lemon bar. Great to bring to a BBQ!

I was looking at recipes for lemon pies on Pinterest and happened across a pin from NPR with a recipe for Bill Smith’s North Carolina -style Atlantic Beach Pie, and decided I had to try it.

Recipe from http://www.npr.org/2013/04/11/176279512/a-north-carolina-pie-that-elicits-an-oh-my-god-response

Recipe: Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

Makes one pie
For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
For the filling:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

I crushed the saltines in the packages, and while I liked the chunkiness of the texture, it didn’t hold together that well. I think that next time I will crush a bit finer in either a food processor or a gallon zip lock bag. It did taste great though.

Atlantic-Beach-Pie (2)
Crushed saltines, butter, and sugar
Atlantic-Beach-Pie (4)
Baking the crust

For the juice I used my electric citrus juicer to squeeze lemons. I didn’t use any lime juice, just lemon. I would strongly recommend using fresh lemon juice over bottled, the bottled has an acidic taste that I’m not fond of. I only ended up needing one large lemon for the 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Juicing the lemons
Atlantic Beach Pie
Egg yolk, lemon juice, and sweetened condensed milk mixture

The filling mix for the Atlantic Beach Pie was rather runny when pouring it into a pre-baked pie shell. The result after baking was a smooth, firm, custard however.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Filling the pie ready to bake

The Atlantic Beach Pie turned out delicious, and it was ridiculously easy. I sprinkled the top with a little sea salt like the recipe called for, and served with whipped cream. It tasted kind of like a big, extra-creamy lemon bar. I’m keeping this recipe in my mental lexicon of easy summer BBQ potluck dishes.

Atlantic Beach Pie
Finished pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie
Atlantic Beach Pie

 

 

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from product links on this site.

Culinary Adventures: Japanese Style Deviled Eggs

Make Easter brunch more interesting, or add Japanese style deviled eggs to your next party spread. They take a bit of planning ahead, but are so easy and so delicious.

 

This recipe for Japanese style deviled eggs is essentially just a Japanese marinated egg topped with a squirt of mayo, a squirt of Sriracha, and some toasted panko. The only hard part is planning ahead to marinate them. Other than that, they are actually less work than regular deviled eggs.

Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs (Ajitsuke Tomago) are what they use in Japanese ramen noodle bowls. For this recipe, I just made standard hard boiled eggs and marinated them with a marinade recipe that I found on SeriousEats.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs

Also needed: Mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, and Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)

If you’re not familiar with mirin, it is a sweet rice wine product used for cooking, and is pretty essential in Japanese cuisine. You can find it in the Asian foods section at the grocery store, usually near the rice vinegar.

Mix the liquid ingredients and the sugar and whisk the sugar until it is dissolved. Hard boil, cool, and peel the eggs and add them to the marinade. Cover eggs with a folded paper towel saturated in the marinade to help hold the eggs in the marinade, as they tend to bob to the surface and leave a side exposed. Marinate in the fridge overnight.

If you want to make more Japanese  style deviled eggs, adjust the recipe above accordingly.

Once your eggs are marinated, pull them out, pat dry with a paper towel, and cut them in half. Squirt a little mayo and a little Sriracha sauce on the cut halves. I like to use Asian Kewpie mayo which you can find at most Asian grocery stores, it has a fine tip. Regular mayo works just as well.

Japanese style deviled eggs

Next, take the panko and spread it on a baking sheet and toast it for a few minutes. I do this in the toaster oven. If you don’t have a toaster oven, you can toast them in the regular oven on a high temperature as well. Keep an eye on them, they toast quickly.

Toasted Panko Japanese style deviled eggs
Toasted Panko

Sprinkle the toasted Panko on top of the eggs, adding another delicious layer of crunchy toasty goodness. Your Japanese style deviled eggs are now ready to serve.  If you make these for a party, use at least a dozen eggs. They will go quickly.

Japanese Style Deviled Eggs
Japanese Style Deviled Eggs

Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream

Culinary Adventures: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream –giving the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie a fancy makeover

I had a discount subscription to Woman’s Day Magazine last year, which I’m not a big fan of (I was only in it for the recipes, which aren’t that exciting). I did really enjoy their pie recipes in last year’s Thanksgiving issue though–particularly the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Orange Cream.

I’d never made a chiffon pie before, and it conjured up images of 1950’s housewives in pastel dresses and aprons, tediously whipping up something that fluffy could easily be ruined or deflated with any slight error. Fortunately, the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought, and the flavor on this pie is amazing. Half the deliciousness comes from the gingersnap cookie crust.

You will definitely need electric beaters and a food processor, and there are quite a few steps/parts to this recipe, but overall it was pretty easy.

Recipe found at http://www.womansday.com/recipefinder/pumpkin-chiffon-pie-orange-cream-recipe-wdy1113

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounce(s) (about 40) vanilla wafer cookies, such as Nilla Wafers
  • 5 ounce(s) (about 19) gingersnap cookies
  • 6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 envelope(s) (2 1/4 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1.50 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
  • 2.50 cup(s) heavy cream
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin purée
  • 1 navel orange

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the cookies to form fine crumbs (you should have about 2 cups). Add the melted butter and pulse to combine.
  2. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch pie dish. Bake until the edges of the crust are beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup water into a medium saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup heavy cream and mix to combine. Add to the gelatin mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens (it should thickly coat the back of a spoon), 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature, 45 to 50 minutes.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until thick and foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) until stiff glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the pumpkin mixture until no white streaks remain. Spread the filling evenly into the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
  7. Twenty minutes before serving, make the orange cream. Cut the orange in half and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice into a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups cream and, using an electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the cream, then grate the zest of the remaining orange half over the top.

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with orange cream

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with orange cream

The Pumpkin Chiffon Pie was delicious. I’m not the biggest pumpkin pie fan, but this one is now added to my Thanksgiving pie rotation from now on. Why make boring pumpkin pie when you can make Pumpkin Chiffon Pie? It was so fluffy and the contrast with the crunchy gingersnap cookie crust was perfect. The orange cream is very subtle, not too overpowering.

Hopefully you won’t have a whipped cream incident like I did.

 

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie whipped cream accident

Avoiding Traveler’s Diarrhea

Tips for avoiding traveler’s diarrhea while traveling in foreign countries: What to eat, what to avoid, what to watch out for

It seems that at least once a year I talk to someone who is about to go to Mexico for the first time and is worried about getting “Montezuma’s Revenge.” Getting sick on your vacation is a real bummer, but the good news is that most cases are pretty mild and can be avoided if you take the right precautions.


Traveler’s diarrhea happens to every adventurous traveler at some point. Traveling to foreign countries exposes people to bacteria that they are not used to, which can cause a mild case of the runs to full blown food poisoning. With a little common sense and a few precautions, you can most likely avoid anything really unpleasant. Here are a few tips on how to avoid it as best you can, and what to do if you get it:

1. Stick to bottled water

Only drink the tap water in a country if a reliable source (a very recently published guidebook for example) has explicitly stated that the water is safe to drink. If you’re not sure, don’t drink it.

If you have been told that the water is NOT safe for human consumption, this means don’t even brush your teeth with it. Don’t open your mouth in the shower, don’t allow it into your mouth at all. Keep a bottle of purified water in the bathroom for teeth brushing and bring bottled water with you on excursions.

In some countries, not all bottled water is safe. Be sure that there is an unbroken seal on the bottle of any bottled drink.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea

 

2. Eat only foods that are hot

Anything freshly cooked and served at a hot temperature is going to have less of a chance of having harmful bacteria in it. Hot food cooked to order is always your best bet.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea
We did eat some of these squids, reheated on a charcoal grill, and  they were really good. We rolled the dice on this one– food already cooked and sitting out is not a good idea. We didn’t get sick though.

3. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless they have a peel.

In a hot climate, nothing sounds better than a nice cold fresh salad. Unfortunately, many vegetables are washed in tap water that may be contaminated or full of bacteria that you aren’t used to. Hot veggies are the way to go. If you have a kitchen facility where you are staying, you can get around this by washing the vegetables and fruits in iodine or bleach treated water, and then rinsing in purified water. You can use bottled water or boiled water.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea
Market in Thailand

As for fresh fruits–if you can’t peel it, don’t eat it unless you know it’s been properly washed. Bananas for example, are usually a safe bet.

If you are staying at a resort or in a touristy area, the salads are often okay. Resorts and touristy areas don’t want their guests getting sick, so they usually take precautions and disinfect the vegetables properly. We’ve had some salads while traveling in Asia and Central America and they were okay. We knew we were rolling the dice a little though. If you’re really concerned, skip the raw veggies.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea

4. Follow the crowds.

Eat where the locals eat, and eat at places that are busy. Busy vendors go through food fast so their food has a better chance of being freshly cooked. Also, trust the locals. They go to the good places, and you’ll get more of an authentic experience.

Night market in Papeete, Tahiti
Night market in Papeete, Tahiti

5. Street vendors aren’t all bad, just use common sense.

Many guidebooks and websites tell you to avoid street vendors completely. While this may be prudent advice, we don’t think that this is necessarily true. Look at a street vendor’s set up: Do they seem popular? Do they have coolers and food on ice? Is there raw meat sitting out in the sun or is it kept cold before cooking? Are there flies around? Are they cooking food to order? Is already cooked food (such as soup) kept piping hot?

If a street vendor is busy with customers, and is cooking food to order, (and doesn’t have meat sitting out at room temperature), you’re probably going to be okay. A lot of flies are also a bad sign, as flies are attracted to decay. Chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain has said that he gets sick more often eating hotel food than from eating street food when he travels. When we were in Thailand, it was a burger at an Irish pub that gave Paddy a bad case of the runs, not the street food we tried.

Avoiding street vendors altogether will have you missing out on some of the best local food. Just use common sense and observe how they operate, and (*hopefully*) everything will be fine.

night market chicken satay in Thailand
Paddy eating a chicken satay in Thailand

6. Ice is iffy.

In any country where the water is questionable, so is the ice. Avoid ice in drinks from street vendors, and any crushed ice. Some say to avoid ice altogether, but many countries use purified ice cubes in drinks. The purified ice cubes from the factory are often the tube kind (rounded cubes with a hole in the middle). Touristy areas usually have safe ice in drinks, but it is always good to ask. Learn how to say “purified ice” in the language of the country you are in and ask.

Enjoying a tasty margarita in Mexico
Enjoying a tasty margarita in Mexico

avoiding traveler's diarrhea

7. Avoid ice cream and milk

Milk in many countries is unpasteurized, so avoiding milk and ice cream is advised in the non-western world. That ice cream cone on a hot day in Mexico sounds amazing, but is probably not a good idea.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea

8. Buffets can be a bacterial circus.

Buffets can be iffy. Going right when the buffet opens or when it’s busiest is best to ensure that the food is freshest. Check to make sure that hot dishes are kept hot and cold dishes are on ice. Avoid hollandaise sauce and potato salad.

dessert buffet bora bora

Traveler’s Diarrhea is usually mild. If it’s not that bad and you will be near bathrooms for the day,  try to avoid using Immodium or other anti-diarrheal medicine as your body needs to clear the bad stuff out of your system. Use it if you are going to be traveling or on a tour where a bathroom stop is not always an option.

The most important thing to do if you get traveler’s diarrhea is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of purified/bottled water and an electrolyte-replenishing drink such as Gatorade.  If the diarrhea lasts longer than 72 hours and is accompanied by vomiting, or symptoms include bloody stool, chills, or acute abdominal pain, see a doctor ASAP.

Visiting your doctor before you travel is always a good idea as well. He or she can make sure you are up to date on any vaccinations you may need, as well as prescribe an antibiotic for treating severe traveler’s diarrhea to have on hand, such as ciprofloxacin.

 

Paddy’s advice: An extra tequila shot with your meal can’t hurt.

avoiding traveler's diarrhea

 

Culinary Adventures: Pina Colada Cake

Culinary and Crafty Adventures: Pina Colada Cake

We were celebrating two birthdays over our Fourth of July trip with friends to Lake Quinault, WA and I wanted to make a fun, summertime cake for the birthday girls. I had found a recipe on Cooks.com for a pina colada cake, and decided to give it a try.

The cake part was easy. I took a white cake mix and followed the mix instructions, subbing out 3/4 cup pina colada mix for 3/4 of the water required. The batter consistency was pretty gooey, but it baked into a nice, light, fluffy pina colada cake.

Now for the frosting. It sounded great, but the reality was a little different. The frosting recipe was:

2 cups powered sugar

2 cups sour cream

8 oz Cool Whip

7 oz coconut flakes

The instructions were to “stir sugar into sour cream, fold in Cool Whip and coconut. Fill and frost cake.”

I followed the instructions and wound up with a frosting that is about the same consistency as lumpy syrup. Dissatisfied with the sticky, drippy mess, I added more powdered sugar. A lot more. I think the whole bag, actually. I added a bit more Cool Whip as well, and got it to thicken up a bit, but it was still pretty runny. I tasted it, and the sour cream really did compliment it nicely. It just wasn’t great to frost with.

I think a sheet cake in a glass casserole dish would have been better for this recipe. But I bravely persisted on with my two 9″ round cake layers. (I apologize for the lack of photos, I was too busy finding ways to keep frosting from overflowing onto the floor to wash my hands and pick up the camera).

I frosted the cake, adding some crushed canned pineapple in the middle between the layers along with frosting. I toasted the remaining coconut flakes on a baking sheet in the oven, and mashed handfuls of it onto the drippy sides of the cake. To my delight, it stuck, and covered up the drippy ugliness. It also tasted amazing–the smell of the toasted coconut brought a few people in from the deck outside to see what the awesomely delicious aroma was.

To decorate the pina colada cake, I cut up some pineapple wedges and cut pineapple leaves and arranged them along one side of the cake, and added little drink umbrellas.

Pina colada cake

It turned out great. The added crushed pineapple in the center provided a nice tart zing that the cake really needed, and the toasted coconut added a nice texture and flavor. The sour cream was the ingredient that made the frosting, and I’d like to try it again a little differently.

Pina Colada Cake

Variations I’d like to try on another pina colada cake would be using pineapple coconut juice instead of the pina colada mix, which has more flavor and less high fructose corn syrup. For frosting, I’d like to try it as a butter cream, with sour cream and butter mixed in, and/or possibly a splash of pineapple coconut juice.

Have you made a good pina colada cake? If so, let me know your recipe!