Surf, Turf & Vanilla Cupcakes!

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We’re back!

Thank you so much for your kind words regarding Ben’s Grandma. She was such a sweet woman and will be terribly missed. Your kind words mean a lot.

If there is an upside to all this, it’s that the family got to spend some real quality time together this weekend…including dining twice at Quaker Steak and Lube. For realsies. I couldn’t make this stuff up! It actually might be my new favorite restaurant. In addition to the hysterical name – it was REALLY good!! :)

Ben and I drove the 1.5 hour drive home this morning and have been busy ever since. Went grocery shopping, organized the house, then put our lobster cutting, butter melting & cupcake icing skills to the test. Valentine’s Day came a day early in the form of Surf & Turf for dinner!

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Steak and lobster, baby! Oooo yeah!

We’ve actually been planning this dinner for WEEKS. Normally Ben and I like to go out to a nice restaurant for Valentine’s Day but, I don’t know, it’s kind of awkward timing this year since the big day lands on a Monday, and we don’t really like to go out to eat on Sundays (I know,) so we planned to whip up a decadent feast in the comfort of our own kitchen. :D

Ok so the original plan called for boiling 2 live lobsters, but when push came to shove – we totally chickened out and bought lobster tails!! Well sorry, but for one thing, the store had GORGEOUS beef tenderloin medallions pre-packed with lobster tails for $30, and the whole lobsters would have been at least that much just by themselves without the beef.

For another thing, I just felt bad. Poor lobster! I couldn’t bear the thought of putting the frightened crustaceans into my crowded trunk, then having them crawl around my dark fridge, then – eek – dropping them into a big pot of boiling water! Right?! Have you ever cooked anything alive?

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With that dilemma passed, we turned to the prepping of the tails. I’ve already confessed that prior to cooking Pasta allo Scoglio, my experience with cooking exotic seafood was basically nil.

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Up until today my interaction with lobsters has been limited to tapping on the outside of the glass case they sat in at the grocery store while my mom shopped when I was little. ;)

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After a quick search on the internet, Ben and I found the best way to cook the tails was on the grill or in the oven. Well the grill is still under 2 feet of snow (despite a PICTURE PERFECT day here today, OMG!) so we opted for the oven.

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First you’re supposed to split the tail and crack it open so it cooks evenly – which, let me tell you, is easier said than done.

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Fate decided that the knife was not going to be penetrating one of the shells, so I ended up having to crack it open from the bottom side, while I finally did get the other one to open on the top. Big sharp knives are key for this process!

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Next came the butter. Lobster tails need lots and LOTS of salted butter! :D

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I laid the tails on a baking sheet and drizzled ~1/2 Tablespoon of butter on each tail, then popped them into a 400 degree oven for ~12 minutes, until the flesh was firm, but still a bit springy. Kind of the texture of cooked shrimp.

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Picture break while we anxiously wait to find out how the hell the tails are going to turn out. We really had no idea what we were doing!

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Badda bing, badda boom! Flesh slightly pulling away from the shell, bright pink coloring on the outside of the tail flesh, and slightly firm to the touch. We did it!!

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Whee! :D 

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The lobster tails joined a pot-o-butter for dipping, fresh asparagus spears, garlic fries and THE most incredible beef tenderloin I’ve ever had. 

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Lobster tails, people. GET THEM!

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Once you figure out what you’re doing with the knife, they take less than 15 minutes to cook.

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Soooo decadent, chewy and dripping with butter. It’s love!!

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The beef tenderloin was actually my #1 favorite item on the plate though. I have a seriously large place in my heart reserved for exceptional cuts of beef (what, you don’t? ;) )

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Ben kept his master steak cooker title with these babies and they were like BUTTER! He gave them a quick sear on each side on a flat top skillet, then finished them in a 400 degree oven.

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Mouthwatering, fork-tender, perfectly seasoned – I could eat this every single night. It was the best steak I have EVER had. Go Ben!

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Steamed asparagus canceled out some of the lobster butter, I’m sure.

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Although, the garlic fries probably canceled out that cancel out. ;) We were going to make twice-baked potatoes but remembered we had a big bag of these in the freezer, and they totally made the meal. My warning remains – eat these WITH your significant other – you will be breathing fire afterwards!

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Ben said it was the best meal we’ve ever made. Who says you need to pay big bucks at a restaurant to enjoy the finer things in life? ;) 

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Or always make things from scratch, for that matter? ;) 

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For a sweet, Valentine’s Day treat, Ben whipped us up some of his very favorite cupcakes for dessert – Funfetti Cupcakes!

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My favorite cupcakes to make from scratch are Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes, but good HEAVENS do I love these babies!

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Ben took his task very seriously…

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and it totally paid off…

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these were the best freaking cupcakes I have ever had!!!!

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Iced and decorated by yours truly, we were mmmmmm’ing our way through ‘em.

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Actually Ben was "mmmhffmmmgereehhhfff’ing" through his. 

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The man refuses to eat cupcakes any other way but whole. I’ll never understand it… ;) 

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I mean…I guess I get it.

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I can hardly control myself around these tender pillows of luscious cupcake love either.

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Ugh, I want 40 of them!

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WHOOOOO I am stuffed! But feeling good. The hotel we stayed at this weekend had a sweet gym and I got in a nice workout every day we were gone. I’m normally terrible about working out away from home too, so I felt it was worthy of an extra-decadent V-day dinner. ;) 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got this to clean up.

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Ugh, right?! Nobody said surf and turf was clean and tidy! ;)

Have a great week!

~~~~~

What’s your favorite cupcake/icing combo?

Red Velvet + Cream Cheese Icing – FO SHO! :D

Do you like baking from a mix or from scratch?

Honestly I like to bake everything (cinnamon rolls, brownies, cornbread, etc.) from scratch except cupcakes/cake. Mine never turn out as moist and luscious as the box mixes!

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