Battle of the Burgers

10402383_10205716536173111_8384670249170116578_nI almost forgot to tell you guys – I had my first In-N-Out Burger this past month!  Eric and I went to In-N-Out when we had a layover in LAX on our way to Hawaii.  We tried the burgers “animal style” with an order of regular fries, animal-style fries, and a chocolate shake. 
I thought it all was really good!  I love the presentation of the burgers and how fresh everything was.  The atmosphere was also a lot of fun. We went at midnight and the place was packed!  I would definitely go back if we’re ever on the west coast again.  Eric enjoyed the burgers, too.
He still thinks Portillos is better, and I might have to agree with him.  I’m undecided and probably need to eat Portillos again to compare.  I think Portillos fries, onion rings and shakes are better, but I may have liked In-N-Out’s burgers better.  You should have seen how fast I ate my burger and fries.  It must have been a record for me.  I was starving!
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I also had my first Shake Shack burger this month!  It was no In-N-Out burger, but it was pretty good.  To be fair, I did get this burger from the Shake Shack in JFK, and didn’t get a shake and fries to go with it.  Next time I’ll get the real deal.  I just needed a little burger snack to hold me over that day. 
So now my question to you is, what is your favorite fast food burger??  Eric’s is Portillos and Steak ‘n Shake.  Mine might be In-N-Out?? (Must do more research.)  Apparently there’s a Smashburger in St. Louis, so that’s next on my list. 

Five Guys? Culvers? Whataburger? White Castle? Freddy’s?  Tell me!  I must know!

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins3 I made some scrumptious blueberry muffins recently.  I love blueberry muffins so much.  It’s difficult for me to bake any other type of muffin.  These are really, really good!  I made them with Greek yogurt.  No, they’re not healthy, exactly, but I suppose there are worst things for you out there.  I also used olive oil which makes them a tiny bit better?
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins2 I had a few failures with this recipe before I achieved the desired texture.  The muffins are fluffy, moist, and perfectly sweetened.  I used canned blueberries I found at Aldi, and I was kind of disappointed with them.  I would suggest using fresh or frozen.  I should have known better than to buy canned blueberries.  At least they weren’t covered in that goopy corn syrup stuff. 
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins4 The muffin interior.  Quite nice!  What’s your favorite kind of muffin?  I’m considering baking a healthy protein muffin… what do you think?  Maybe with chocolate and peanut butter?

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins1 Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oil (I used olive)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg and vanilla until well combined.  Whisk in yogurt until combined.  Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. 

Divide half of the batter into muffin cups.  Top with blueberries.  Cover the blueberries with the remaining batter.  Bake 15-18 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.  Cool for a few minutes before transferring muffins to a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins

Hawaii Part Two

10968465_10205726029850447_2614121412244960879_nOne of the best decisions of the trip was renting a Smart Car convertible for four days.  I have to give all of the credit to Ericcakes for coming up with this idea.  It was so much fun driving that tiny little car around the island.  It was not exactly a smooth ride (it felt like we were riding in a go kart), but it got great gas mileage and it was easy to find parking.
Plus we got to cruise all over the island, hair blowing in the wind while we jammed to reggae.
Eric drove the car the whole time.  He’s a really good driver!  I didn’t realize what a good driver he was until the day we moved from Chicago to St. Louis and maneuvered the big U-Haul down the narrow, busy streets of Chicago.  I don’t like to drive unless I’m driving to Aldi, Target or Trader Joe’s.  Haha.  So I think it was the third day we were there that we rented the Smart Car.  Can you believe the first place we took it was Walmart?  Eric forgot some fishing supplies so we stopped in and stocked up on a few things.10959598_10205716593294539_6549226956926086473_n We drove all over the island… along the shore, the mountains and through the country.  Oahu is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been.  We just couldn’t believe how pretty the landscape was.
The day after we picked up the car we drove to the USS Arizona Memorial.  We watched a documentary about the attack on Pearl Harbor, then took a boat ride over to the memorial. 
It wasn’t exactly fun, obviously, but it was very, very interesting, and I think you must visit if you’re in Oahu.  It made me sad during the tour and it made me think a lot about that day of the attack. 
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It also made me think a lot about my Grandpa Bixby who served in the navy during World War II, and was stationed in the South Pacific.  He visited Pearl Harbor with my Grandma many years ago when he was still living, and I’m certain it must have been an emotional experience for him. 
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Eric took this picture of some of the oil still leaking from the sunken ship.
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We also visited the USS Bowfin submarine, which was pretty neat.  My grandpa was on a submarine during the war!
10410495_10205724217085129_5457430088232158769_n It was tight quarters down below!  I have no idea how so many men lived on one submarine.
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It’s kind of hard to read, but here’s one of the menu from the submarine.  It sounds like they ate pretty well throughout the week!  Mmm donuts, bacon, peach ice cream….
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After visiting the memorial we cruised on down the highway to the Dole plantation.  It was crazy windy and rainy outside so we didn’t take the train ride or go through the maze.  We did eat pineapple whip on the back porch, though!  Mmm it was so good. 
The inside was a lot of fun; they had a cafe, fresh pineapple samples, and lots of souvenirs.
I bought a pineapple coconut turnover that was delicious.  I ate it on the beach the next morning!
1234535_10205716556613622_1153766240232843711_n I also purchased a white chocolate macadamia cookie and a lemon cookie.
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Candied macadamia nuts!
We then cruised on up to the North Shore and walked around the cute town of Haleiwa.
We went to the beach to check out the huge waves.  We didn’t see any surfers, though.  Perhaps it was too windy?  Have you ever gone surfing?  It was on our “to-do” list for Hawaii but we didn’t get around to it.  Something tells me I would not be good at it since I don’t have any upper body strength. 
We drove to another beach that was a big calmer down the road and stayed the rest of the day.
The next day we woke up early and drove to Lanikai Beach… AKA the most amazing beach in the world we’ve ever been to.  It was clean, white sand, clear turquoise water and wasn’t very busy.  You can see two little islands in the distance!
A little while later we rented a two-person kayak for the afternoon!  This was so much fun – I think it was Eric’s favorite part of the whole trip. 
Just paddling around in the Pacific Ocean….
We paddled out to a tiny island and hung out there a while.  Eric fished and I explored.  I only found dead crabs. 
I’m going to interrupt all of this beach talk now.  Let’s have an intermission with a burger discussion.  There was this restaurant called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers that was really close to the hotel.  We ate there more times than we really should have.  It was just so good!  We tried a couple of their burgers, spicy fries, onion rings, and milkshakes.
I had pineapple on my burger every single time.  When in Hawaii
The next day we went back to Lanikai for half of the day, then we drove to Hanauma Bay for the rest of the day.  You had to watch a little film about snorkeling in the bay before you could hike down to the mountain onto the beach.
We set up camp and took turns snorkeling in the water.  Eric bought us snorkeling equipment to take with us to Hawaii, but unfortunately I forgot mine in the hotel.  So we had to take turns.  I regret not snorkeling more because it was pretty amazing.  We both saw quite a few tropical fish swimming around the reefs.  I also did a lot of handstands in the water.  Haha.  I hadn’t done those in years!
That was our last full day in Hawaii, and we were exhausted when we got back.  We tried to find a certain restaurant to eat dinner at in Honolulu when we got back into the city, but it was closed down!  We had this happen to us a couple of times while we were there.  We spotted Siam Palace as we were driving around in the same area and said there!  Let’s eat there!  We were hangry.  Hangry Emily & Eric=bad.
It must have been fate.  it was the best Thai food we’ve had so far.  We were both practically moaning over how good the food was.  Haha.  I had Pad See Ew (surprise, surprise) and Eric had Padkimao.  I’m jealous if you live in Honolulu and get to eat here anytime you want.  Plus, you live in Hawaii so there’s that.
We also had mango sticky rice for dessert, which was divine.  I must make my own now!
The next day we shopped for souvenirs, returned the car, and went to Waikiki Beach for a bit before hopping on our red eye flight back home. 

This was our view from our hotel room.  Not bad, huh? 
10915178_10205726043290783_3493501620007529682_n I think that about covers our trip.  We had a wonderful time and would love to explore more of the islands in the future.  Have you been to Hawaii?  What was the best thing you did while you were there?