Beach, Wedding, and Mai Tais

What a wonderful weekend I had!  Not only was it my first wedding of the season, but I got to photograph a truly wonderful couple who’s love and laughter was contagious!  I couldn’t have asked for better weather either.  After last weekends freak snow which was then followed by a week of gloom, I was little worried.

The hubs, dog, and I all packed in the car Friday evening and headed down to Southern Maryland to a little town called Lusby.  Since I already had to make the 3 hour trek to photograph this wedding we figured, what the heck?  Let’s make a weekend out of it and go ‘off the beaten path’ to a little eclectic cabin right next to the beach.

After shooting a wedding, I’ve found the perfect cure for a tired body and achy feet.  Beach sunsets.  Could it get any more perfect then this?

The answer is yes!  Yes, it can!  What is the miracle after wedding cure you might ask? Well sit down, relax, and mix yourself up a fun fruity drink of course! Now for those who knew my grams, she wasn’t much of a drinker, but she sure was a partier.  She had a roomful of just party decorations, linens, table settings, and serving dishes.  No lie.  Like… you literally could probably plan 100 different themed parties with all the items in my gram’s backroom. There’s a whole space her cookbook dedicated to drinks and I figured, what the heck? It’s been a long day, let’s sip on something cold and enjoy the weather.  Right?

Flipping through gram’s notes, this recipe for Mai Tai’s stood out to me.  Not because it’s a Mai Tai… but because it’s unlike any Mai Tai recipe I have ever seen.  This thing could seriously take the paint off a car.  So.. using the hubs as my taste tester, we started out with the base recipe (pictured below) and made our own modifications to make it ‘more fun sipping’ drink and less ‘my whole body is on fire’ drink.

Full disclosure, I was also very ill-prepared for drink making.  We didn’t have a jigger (a bartending tool used to measure liquor).  So, I used a rough estimation figuring a shot is 1.5 fluid ounces and this little bowl was a shot’s worth and went from there.  So don’t judge.  I know.. not 100% scientific by any standards… but seriously, this is a good freaking drink once it’s toned down some.  That is of course.. if you like rum.  If you don’t, move on lol, this is NOT for you.

Gram’s Mai Tai Recipe:

  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1/2 oz orange curacao
  • 2 oz sweet & sour bar mix (gram’s originally called for a splash but it definitely needs a little more ‘non-alcohol’)
  • 3 oz pineapple juice (again, gram’s originally called for a splash, but you need something to cut all the alcohol, otherwise we’re getting into shot territory)
  • 1/2 lime’s juice
  • 1 oz dark rum (floated, meaning carefully poured on the top to keep the liquors separated)
  • Ice for 12-16 oz glass

Pour first four ingredients over ice.  Squeeze half a lime into drink.  Stir until combined.  Float dark rum on top of drink (if you’re not a strong drink lover, you could also skip this step and just enjoy drink as is). Garnish with lime.  Sip, absorb the sunshine and enjjjooy.  Num num.


To ‘float’ liquor, a lot of people spoon it in carefully.  We aimed for the ice on the top and slowly poured it in.


Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) (w)

(e) (p) 610.762.7810



Sweet Orange and Coconut

Last Monday would have been Grandma’s 82nd birthday.  This was the first year I didn’t get to call her, hear her laugh, and share in another year of her life.  Since Gram’s birthday was typically around Easter, we always double downed and did 2x the celebrating.  If you’re part of the Yoder clan, every birthday my mother (or grandma) will cook you a dinner and dessert of your choice.  Seriously, one of the biggest perks ever.  Anything and everything.  Nothing is off limits.  My gram’s always requested orange cake with whipped coconut icing.  It was her favorite.  One of my favorite photos of her is two years ago blowing out the cake my mom had baked for her.


Today, in my little ode to grams, I decided to make her favorite.  Orange cake with coconut icing.  Now, in normal grandma form, I decided to spruce up something store bought.  Yes, I bought a box cake.  Sue me.  I went with Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Yellow Cake.  This calls for 3 eggs, 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of butter.  By changing the water into orange juice, a dash of orange extract and some orange zest… VOILA, awesome cake that NO ONE would be able to tell was store bought.  Save’s you some time and money, which in my book is always a plus!  

Now, I did make the icing from scratch.  Cream cheese icings are always my favorite and gram’s LOVED whipped sugar icing so I combined the two into one awesome combo.  I know that orange and coconut is not normally a combo most people are used to, but trust me, you’ll enjoy this!  A little tangy with a little sweet.  It’s the perfect combo for the wonderful lady that was grams.  So without further ado, Orange Coconut Cake.


Quick Orange Cake:

  • 1 box cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Yellow Cake)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 stick softened butter
  • 3 Oranges (to make 1 cup of juice + zest)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 T orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 °. Open and pour cake mix in a large bowl.  Add butter, eggs, and orange extract.  Zest one orange into mixture.  Juice three oranges to make 1 cup of orange juice (you could just use orange juice as well if you want). Mix all ingredients together well. Pour in pre-greased 8″ cake pan (make sure this is a tall 2.5-3″ pan).  Put in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean.  Place cake on cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing. 

Make sure someone enjoys the batter with this one haha.  Don’t worry, the hubs licked the bowl first. Now, onto the icing!


Coconut Whipped Icing:

  • 1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (or icing sugar)
  • 1/2 T orange extract
  • 1/2 T of vanilla extract
  • 1-3 T of milk (optional, add to icing if you would like it more runny)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded coconut (put more/less depending on taste)

Place softened butter in bowl.  Beat until creamy.  Add room temperature cream cheese, whip with butter until smooth.  Add both vanilla and orange extract.  Beat until smooth.  Slowly incorporate powder sugar.  If the icing is too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time to thin out.  Before icing cake, add wax paper around bottom of the cake.  This will make sure that you don’t get icing all over your plate and create a picture perfect cake! Pour icing on cake and spread evenly.  ***Make sure cake is completely cool before doing this.  Once icing is even, sprinkle coconut on top and sides.  Allow icing to set, remove wax paper, and serve.  Enjoy!

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) (w)

(e) (p) 610.762.7810




Berries and Custard

This is certainly a VERY old school (80+ years) family favorite that I’m about to share with you this chilly Sunday.  It’s so old that the recipe is in both grams and great grams cookbook as well as a recipe card. I guess gram’s REALLY didn’t want us to forget this one lol.  She certainly had it memorized.

Now if you know anything about the large Pizor-Yoder (and now Bailey clan), our family… aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings all get together every Christmas (and really as often as we can) and pretty much cook, play cards, laugh, and have an all around good time.  You’ll certainly see some fun blog posts around that time (definitely including some mojito recipes… yummm).  Our family ALWAYS make this custard recipe whenever we’re together.  It’s actually my great-grams ‘cornstarch recipe’ and is known by just about everyone.  Anyone who ever tries it wants a copy of the recipe. I even remember making this for my sister’s host family in Scotland, so it’s been shared in multiple countries too!   It’s a truly amazing dessert and is comprised of fresh, simple ingredients.


In the summer, we’d go pick fresh berries off our neighbor’s bushes or get peaches at the farmer’s market and serve them over this custard.  When the custard’s still hot everything kind of melds together in a truly magical way. We always had the ongoing tapioca vs. no tapioca argument in my family, as we were always 50/50 split on the matter. Grams and mom also used this as a pie base or custard base, which is fairly easy to do.  Here’s some tricks of the Pizor-Yoder custard trade:

  • Add 1 T of good cocoa to make chocolate custard
  • Add 1/2-1 cup of shredded coconut to make coconut custard
    • Do both of the above with a tsp of almond extract to make Almond Joy
  • Add zest and juice of one lemon to custard, pour in baked pie crust.  Add whipped eggs whites (meringue) to the top and bake for lemon meringue pie.
  • Add a cup of quick tapioca (or a cup of large pearl that have been soaked overnight) for tapioca custard.
  • We substituted coconut milk for regular milk before to make lactose free custard (also makes it a little more primal/paleo if you use coconut sugar instead of white sugar)
  • My grandpa’s favorite was always to put pitted cherries on the bottom of a baked pie crust, cover them with tapioca custard and have custard cherry pie.

It’s seriously one of the best base recipes that can also beautifully stand on it’s own or be whipped up into any manner of desserts.  I have so many memories of gram’s stirring this on the stovetop for all the grandkids.  This has always been a staple in our households, and hopefully it can become one in yours now too!

**Also, as a side note, the hubs and I are taking a little hiatus the next two weekends.  I’ll be doing a little post on New Orleans next weekend but then we’ll be out of the country so a fun island post to follow soon! However, gram’s recipes will be postponed for our little break!  Check back soon!


Old Fashioned Cornstarch Custard:

Now, we always double this recipe (cause the family can never get enough of this) but this will make roughly 3 cups of custard by itself so plan accordingly!

  • 2 rounded T cornstarch
  • 1 pint milk (2 cups)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar (can add more or less to taste)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.5 – 2 T of butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix together cornstarch and sugar until combined well.  Slowly add milk and mix well to ensure no clumping (with cornstarch). Separate eggs, add yolks and salt.  Stir everything until combined well and place on stove at medium high heat. Continuously stir mixture to avoid scorching until mixture thickens.  Once it thickens, add butter and vanilla.  Remove from heat and still until well combined. My family can never wait for this to cool and pretty much eat it as soon as it doesn’t burn our mouths but feel free to cool and serve cold as well or make a pie!  Enjoy!




Funny moment is always when Gizmo comes in and looks at us making food sitting on the floor.  I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re nuts.  Captured a little moment of that today.


 Alysha Yoder Photography (b)

(w) (e) (p) 610.762.7810



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