Cupcakes and Sunshine: July 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dessert Tasting at the Marriott Marco Island Resort and Spa


Hello, hello!

I'm currently blogging from our balcony overlooking the beach at the Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa. And let me just tell you...I had one of THE most amazing experiences in my life today at the resort! I had the chance to taste some of the incredible desserts that are handmade at the resort each and everyday. After a couple of hours in the sun this morning, my cousin Sauve' and I met up with the Marriott's Sean Jones and Executive Pastry Chef Todd Champagne and were greeted with a preponderance of decadent desserts. 


I. Was. In. HEAVEN.

 
Upon first arriving, Chef Todd showed us how he handmakes the liquid nitrogen ice-cream that is served alongside many of the desserts. Yes...liquid.nitrogen.ice-cream. It was so fun watching him whip up the ice-cream and seeing it freeze right before our eyes!




Afterwords, Chef Todd scooped some of the ice-cream into the first of many desserts we tasted...Brownie Sundae Jars! Quinn's, one of the beachside restaurants on the resort (which we have been to many times already for lunch and dinner! another post on those meals later...), has these sundaes on their daily menu. I definitely would not mind having one of these daily.




Next, we dug into another jar dessert...a s'mores sundae. Chef Todd told us the marshmallows are handmade at the resort. And you could definitely tell! They were soft and perfect in everyway. And then he showed us how to toast the marshmallows with the giant blow torch...so, so much fun!





Even though we wanted to eat the ENTIRE s'mores sundae, we knew we had more tasting to come! Next, Chef Todd told us about the beautiful desserts that he creates for banquets, events and weddings. In addition to these fabulous desserts, he says that they create about 40 wedding cakes each month at the Marriott.



This was an incredible passionfruit tart. I just wanted this for breakfast the rest of my stay here. I mean passionfruit is a fruit, right?! and fruit is healthy! The fruit on the side was in the most delicious, dainty almond bowl. It was sweet and crunchy and complimented the fresh fruit perfectly! The textures were fantastic.


Next, we sampled the "Taste of Kurrents" desserts from the resort's fine dining restaurant- Kurrents.



I think the guava sorbet was my favorite of the four "tastes" above! It was SO fruity and refreshing! I wanted to lick that tasting spoon clean! And look how cute the little Crème brûlée is to the right of the guava sorbet.


We got to flambé it...




 Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, out came more desserts!





^^Chef Todd said this was one of his favorite desserts- a chocolate mousse cake on top of a wafer crust. Garnished with a handpainted chocolate piece and a macaroon (!!). At this point, I really wanted someone to pinch me. I was in sugar shock. The most happiest of sugar shocks I've ever been in.

And then came what Chef Todd declared as one of the best selling desserts at the Marco Island Marriott- the Soup and Sandwich! HOW clever is this...


Marscarpone cheese and fresh strawberries "sandwiched" between two slices of grilled angel food cake and served alongside a delicious strawberry "soup." INCREDIBLE. Just incredible!

Chef Todd then showed us around the kitchen and bakery areas. We felt so pampered receiving the behind-the-scenes tour!


He showed us the giant ice-cream machine...


the large oven/stoves in the bakery...



and we met some of the wonderful team members who keep the bakery going!




It was an INCREDIBLE experience that I will never forget! It was so great seeing how passionate Chef Todd was and how dedicated he is to making guests right at home in paradise!


 Thanks so much to Chef Todd and Sean Jones for this wonderful dessert tasting experience at the Marco Island Marriott. We loved every minute of it!


Disclaimer: I was provided a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting of the Marriott, but all views, opinions, and pictures are my own. 


Sunday, July 20, 2014

We have Arrived at Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa!


I think this has been my favorite summer yet! I have been surrounded by wonderful family, good friends, good food, and in the most fabulous of destinations. Each moment and surprise has been such a blessing! This morning we woke up bright and early, grabbed biscuits (my favorite!) and were on our way to Marco Island.

The Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa has been a new summer travel tradition. Remember last year when I wrote one of my first ever blog posts about our stay? Well this year we are back visiting this paradise again!



We were greeted at the door with a delightful array of fruits, crackers, cheeses, chocolates, and Chardonnay.




(See the ittybitty macaroons...and those nonpareil and chocolate covered strawberries? So, so yummy. I don't think you can start off vacation any better)


And our room has been nothing short of amazing!




Open and spacious, comfy beds (we may or may not have jumped on them first thing), and copious storage spaces for making us feel right at home.



 I love that this resort has so many amenities and room options. Here are a few:

  • Spacious rooms with comfy beds 
  • Living/Seating area
  • Internet Access available for purchase in each room
  • Room Service
  • 36 inch flatscreen tv (Why yes, I will be tuning into the Bachelorette while on vacation!) 
  • Evening turndown service




And I can't wait to take advantage of the gym, dining areas, and other recreations the resort has to offer. I feel so spoiled!




Here's to a great week of fun in the sun! I hope your week is off to a great start!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Toasted Peach Yogurt boats with KIND Healthy Grains Clusters


HOLY peach overload. The peach pick-me-ups fresh from the fruit stands have been many.

And I just. can't. get. enough. I'm a Georgia peach at heart! Remember my blueberry peach bundles?



Well thanks to some fun happy mail from KIND Snacks, I had the pleasure of whipping up a delicious breakfast...or dessert...with their new KIND Healthy Grains Clusters.



KIND Healthy Grains Clusters are a delicious new granola with a unique blend of five super grains. Each serving provides you with more than one full serving of whole grains. And the delicious nutty taste will bring you back for more and more.



My favorite KIND Healthy Grains Clusters were the KIND Healthy Grains Banana Nut Clusters. The crunchy pecan clusters with hints of banana would be great on yogurt, pancakes, or even alone as a snack. But I wanted them to be the crunchy topping on top of my toasted peach yogurt boats!


First of all, spread your skillet with a pat of butter...



Half your peaches and sear them up! -- flesh side down...


 Sprinkle with cinnamon, a scoop of Greek yogurt (I used banana!), drizzle with honey, and top with KIND Banana Nut Clusters for the perfect crunch.




These toasted peach yogurt boats with KIND Healthy Grains Clusters are sure to start your day off well, or end it on a sweet, healthy note!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blueberry Peach Bundles and I HAVE A CONFESSION!!


I did something bad. Very bad. I admit it.

Soooo...on the 4th of July, there were lots of people over. Many, many people. And of course...everyone brought a dish. Most would claim Thanksgiving as the best food holiday of the year. Ummm, no... I'm disagreeing with that one. It's the 4th of July. (hot grilled burgers? fresh watermelon? baked beans? Am I right?! YES YES YES)



ANYWAYS. Back to everyone bringing a dish on the 4th...there were pasta salads galore, fruit platters, baked beans...all the good stuff. This is when I also noted someone walking by with a tray of blueberry crescent bundles. I mean...I was eying and eying these things. Juicy blueberries were pouring out of the edges...the sweet cream cheese center looked perfect....all wrapped up in a golden brown crescent roll.

I was busy when I first saw the bundles and thought...HEY! I'll just come back and grab one a little later!

(This is where things starting going badly...)




I walked around the pool a bit, talked with friends and family, relaxed in the sunshine some. And then... I remembered those blueberry crescent bundles inside!

I walked back inside to grab one to see THAT THEY WERE ALL gone. All of them. I knew that there just HAD to be one somewhere. I mean...there were desserts galore! How in the world had the treat that I wanted the most just disappear!? There were so many other dessert options. It couldn't have been the only plate to be gone already! But they were gone. All of them.


And that's when I saw...a secret stashed blueberry bundle off in the distance!!! Some sweet, hungry onlooker had stored away this little blueberry bundle in--what they thought-- a safe hiding corner. Expecting to come back later, this person had trusted that their plated pastry would have had a chance. They had stored it in a back corner...all safe and sound for future enjoyment.


I quietly stated to my surrounding cousins that I neeeeded and waaaanted that one last blueberry bundle. The one that I knew someone had safely stored away. The one sitting RIGHT there. In the distance. In its safe little corner. My cousins egged me on.."eat it! eat it! no one will know who did it! just DO IT!"

I felt straight guilty.

Because I knew that if that had been my blueberry bundle...I would have been heartbroken if someone had disobeyed the "hidden corner" rule and eaten my dessert!



Long story short...I ATE THE DANG BLUEBERRY BUNDLE Y'ALL. 





Someone had wanted this thing so badly that they had stored it in its own special little spot in the kitchen. Away from everything else. On its own little plate. AND I ATE THE DANG BUNDLE. Now, I would consider myself an honest person. But that was one of the best bad decisions I've ever made. The blueberry bundle was perfect in every way. The juicy berries... and that sweet cream cheese center! BUT. I am still feeling quite guilty. And very, very sorry for the sweet somebody who had trusted the "hidden corner" rule so well. And because of this, I'm giving you my Blueberry Peach Bundle recipe today:

Blueberry Peach Bundles:

Ingredients

1 8-count of crescent rolls
4 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
4 Tbs. Brown Sugar +some for sprinkling
sliced peaches
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1. Pop open a can of crescent rolls and seal all of the seams.
2. Slice crescent dough into 8 squares.
3. Mix cream cheese and brown sugar and dollop each crescent square with the mixture.
4. Sprinkle blueberries and sliced peaches in the middle of each cream cheese dollop.
5. Pull the corners of each dough square to its middle and pinch together.Sprinkle with brown sugar or course raw sugar (if ya have some on hand)
6. Bake for 12 minutes (or until golden brown) at 350 degrees.

Enjoy! But watch out for those "hidden corner" rule breakers. I'm not sure if you can trust 'em around these things.

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