Saturday, August 1, 2009

(Camel) Milk Chocolate

Get ready for some seriously innovative chocolate! Al Nassma, a Dubai-based premium chocolate company is preparing to make its camel milk chocolate available to U.S. consumers within the next few months. Al Nassma’s chocolates are the first in the world to be made of camel milk. This brand new company, founded last October, has a farm filled with 3,000 camels exclusively for milk production and GM Martin Van Almsick says the company aims to produce 100 tons of the premium chocolate a year. Al Nassma plans not only to expand to the U.S. but also Europe, Japan and Australia and there are plans for opening up an online store. Van Almsick told Reuters that Al Nassma aims “to be the Godiva of the Middle East” and apparently if they reach success in the global market a comparison may not be necessary. The chocolates contain no chemicals or preservatives and are laced with local spices, nuts and honey. Besides having five times the amount of vitamin C compared to cow milk, camel milk contains less fat and lactose and more insulin making it more appealing to diabetics and the lactose-intolerant. I’m anticipating trying this new chocolate—how about you?

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Al Nassma

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cupcakes on the Go

We’re all familiar with the ice cream trucks that jingle around the neighborhood selling cool refreshments on warm summer days but did you ever expect to see a cupcake truck putting along dishing out mini delights? On the go New Yorkers jonesing for a sweet treat can have their cake and eat it too thanks to the CupcakeStop truck, a traveling cupcake-mobile. Former New York Law student, Lev Ekster, credited cupcakes for helping him survive through his grueling studies and now runs CupcakeStop. During his trial run of his new venture, Ekster ran out of cupcakes sooner than expected. Now, he estimates he will sell 1,200 to 1,500 gourmet cupcakes a day traveling between Union Square and Chelsea all ranging in price from $1 for minis and $2.50 for regular sized cupcakes.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of CupcakeStop.com

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bloomsberry & Co. Chocolates

Last month while I was on the hunt for chocolaty Easter treats for my pals, I came across Bloomsberry & Co. Chocolates. What made me focus in on these chocolates was the eye catching packaging. With amusing names for their chocolates such as, “Emergence Chocolate” and “Bochox” Bloomsberry is making its mark in the chocolate realm. This designer chocolate bar company hails from down under in New Zealand. After receiving loads of emails from customers all over the world raving about their chocolates, the folks at Bloomsberry expanded their reach and became accessible by opening up shop in Australia, Europe, and the U.S.A. Their clever casing and witty phrases help their tasty chocolates fly off the shelves. Bloomsberry & Co. Chocolates are a novelty item that surely make for an interesting alternative to the ordinary chocolate bar.

When I bought some of the chocolates for friends and family I snagged a milk chocolate bar for myself to try. I found the chocolate to be quite creamy and better than I initially thought it would be. I have not tried the dark chocolate variety but considering I was pleased with the milk chocolate I think the dark chocolate will be worth a try.

Prague Delights

If you ever thought of going to Prague I think this picture seals the deal. While checking out one of my favorite sections, the Travel section, in The New York Times I came across this mouthwatering image of desserts deliciously displayed in a Prague confectionery. The Erhartova Cukrarna is a vintage bakery dating back to 1937 complete with period decor. Read more about how to wisely spend 36 hours in Prague in this NYT article (check out the picture of the Dancing House, a remarkable architectural marvel!).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The New York Times

Monday, May 18, 2009

Perfect Pancakes

I was browsing one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, when I came across an interesting idea for reusing a ketchup bottle. You can recycle your ketchup bottles by using them as pancake dispensers. Make lovely round flapjacks by squeezing out the exact amount of batter without the mess caused by attempting to transfer it from a mixing bowl. Small, medium and large pancakes are easily achievable with this method and you can get crafty too! Squirt out ears for a Mickey Mouse pancake or create a three tiered snowman for the kiddies all with a few simple drops from the former bottle of ketchup.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Real Simple

Psycho Donuts

Would you buy a pastry with a name that flirts with serious mental illnesses? A new doughnut shop in Campbell, California called Psycho Donuts has stirred up some controversy since opening up last March. The store sells pastries with names like “Psycho” and “Bipolar” making light of what protesters call serious illnesses that should not be taken lightly. The community’s mental health advocates have been protesting the doughnut shop and in recent weeks the picketing has reached a new level. Mental health workers say that there is a stigma that comes with being mentally ill and that Psycho Donuts is perpetuating that stigma. Owners of the store say that their intention is not to poke fun at mental illness but to do something “that’s light-hearted and fun”. They also say that for them they are referring to the doughnuts as crazy and they are not making any statement about people. Residents of the city of Campbell are intrigued by the doughnut shop and its controversial theme. On the store’s website, they say:

Psycho Donuts has taken donuts to the next demented level. We bid a fond farewell to the tired, round ring of lameness, and the drab, time-weathered environment of doughnut past. Psycho Donuts has taken the neighborhood donut and put it on medication, and given it shock treatment.

They have a “padded cell” display and customers can take pictures with a straitjacket on. An art display called the “nutcase art display” is placed in the shop as a part of the d├ęcor as well as a flat screen TV that plays a slide show of Rorschach images. The staff at Psycho Donuts are decked out in doctor coats and nurse uniforms with stethoscopes, syringes and all. The owners of the shop Kip Berdiansky, who has done stand-up comedy and Jordan Vweigoran say that the idea behind Psycho Donuts was to reinvent the doughnut idea and to try to make their business stand out in a time of recession. The idea certainly has made them stand out but whether or not it is working to their benefit is yet to be seen. Source
Source

Would you visit Psycho Donuts? Do you find the theme of this new pastry shop to be offensive? Share your thoughts on Psycho Donuts with us by leaving a comment!






Photo Credit
: Courtesy of Psycho Donuts

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Birthday Party Cupcakes

This weekend I made cupcakes for a birthday party and they turned out fabulous...

I made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting...

Once I ran out of chocolate frosting I improvised and whipped up some cream cheese frosting...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Circus Animal Cookies

Step right up all of you circus animal fans: Mother’s Cookies’ scrumptious Circus Animal Cookies are back! Thanks to Kellogg’s, this month the pink and white mammals are making their way back onto the shelves and into our tummies.
Back in October of 2008, Mother’s Cookies abruptly went out of business and along with filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the company ceased production on all of their classic treats. In December of 2008, Kellogg’s Co. bought the trademarks and recipes for Mother’s most famed creations including sandwich cookies, wire cut cookies and our childhood favorite: iced animal cookies. These nostalgic goodies are all coming back in their original red and purple packaging with the smiling Mother herself in the corner.
Thanks to the fabulous folks at Foodbuzz I got a sweet sampling of these tasty animals before anyone else and I was not disappointed. I reached into the big glossy bag and pulled out a white camel with festive, colorful sprinkles and I instantly remembered how much I loved these cookies; the thought of them not existing anymore was unfathomable. After all, for finals week during college, these were my main source of nutrition! Mmm, elephants…


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Heather Scott (Ephemeron)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lemon Bar Cupcakes

Originally I was going to share a killer recipe I use for making zestalicious lemon bars with wheat flour but as I hunted for mouthwatering images of those tangy squares I discovered a fantastic recipe for another tasty treat: lemon bar cupcakes. The mini delights are an innovative creation worth the extra baking process. Lemon bar cupcakes are made in four super simple steps: the shortbread crust, the lemon layer, the lemon cake topping and the cream cheese frosting.

Zip on over to BakeBakeBake to snag this scrumptious recipe!





Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alexis Lynn

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Buitoni Pasta: Wild Mushroon Agnolotti Pasta

Thanks to the folks over at Foodbuzz I was given the opportunity to sample Buitoni’s new Wild Mushroom Agnolotti pasta. Buitoni is known for offering all natural and creative meals in minutes and I absolutely agree, my pasta was ready in minutes. After tossing a few in boiling water and letting them cook for about 5 minutes, my serving was ready. I drizzled a small amount of virgin olive oil as to enjoy this Italian specialty as au natural as possible. The pasta was generously filled with portobello and crimini mushrooms and savory Grana Padano cheese. The roasted garlic added a tangy essence and the Parmesan cheese completed the dish. I thought it was quite delicious and the pasta itself was obviously premium quality made of stone ground semolina flour. My only complaint is that it was a little on the salty side but that can be balanced out by combining it with other ingredients. So overall I would say Buitoni’s Wild Mushroom Agnolotti pasta is decent and hearty however beware of the high sodium content.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Easter Chocolate Hunt

Spring is here and Easter is right around the corner and we all know what that means-- fabulous Easter chocolates and delights. From Cadbury eggs to marshmallow peeps, to the granddaddy of them all, the chocolate Easter bunny, I’ve got you covered. Here are my picks for the top Easter treats…

Milk Chocolate
Lindt is prided for creamy chocolates and this spring it’s bringing fabulous milk chocolate goodies including the delicious Lindt Gold Bunny. This solid milk chocolate bunny has the perfect consistency and just melts in your mouth.
Lindt Gold Bunny, $4.50-$25




Dark Chocolate
The chocolatiers of Hotel Chocolat are committed to producing the finest quality chocolates and their dark chocolate confections for Easter are superb. This original creation is called the Serious Dark Fix Egg from the Extra Thick Easter Egg line. It’s a 74% dark chocolate egg that opens up revealing 14 luscious dark chocolate delights.
The Serious Dark Fix Egg, $45 (11.64 oz.)


White Chocolate
For fresh and natural treats, chocolate lovers flock to Lake Champlain Chocolates. This Vermont company utilizes all natural ingredients for their indulgent creations. If you want tempting chocolaty confections for your Easter shindig try Lake Champlain’s tantalizing solid gourmet white chocolate bunnies.
Chocolate Easter Bunny, $10.50 (4 oz.)


Filled
Delicious chocolates are always a pleasure to bite into but what’s even better is when there’s a surprise filling. Fannie May produces fantastic chocolates and this spring add their dark and milk chocolate covered marshmallow eggs to your list of must haves. The smooth dark chocolate and fluffy marshmallow are a delight to sink your teeth into.
Marshmallow Eggs, $11.49 (8oz.)

Organic
Sweet Earth makes the freshest chocolates around. They use the purest organic ingredients and recommend that you devour their succulent confections within a week of purchasing them otherwise their rich flavors start to diminish thereafter. This Easter, Sweet Earth is offering a box of 15 of their most enticing truffles.
Easter Truffle Box, $24

Vegan
For chocolate geared to those who are lactose intolerant or for those who prefer animal-free products there are plenty of chocolatiers who cater to those needs. Allison’s Gourmet is among my favorite vegan chocolate vendors, 100% of the ingredients in their fine chocolates are certified organic and dairy-free. Jazz up your Easter holiday with a bag of fabulous vegan chocolate eggs filled with delectable centers ranging from espresso caramel to raspberry ganache.
Truffle and Caramel Filled Eggs, $13.95 (5 large eggs)

Nut-Free

Lots of kiddies are allergic to peanuts and other tree-nuts which is why Divvies is the place to go get goodies for the little ones without worrying about aggravating any allergies. This spring Divvies is offering a sweet, solid chocolate bunny made with nut, dairy and egg-free chocolate.
Chocolate Bunny Rabbit, $8.50 (4 oz.)



Sugar-Free
Not everyone can indulge in sugary sweets that’s why Russell Stover is the chocolate company to go to for sugar-free treats. Fill those Easter eggs with these delightful and fruity sugar-free jelly beans.
Sugar-Free Jelly Beans, $3.79 (7 oz.)





Expensive
The king of luxury fine chocolates is without a doubt Neuhaus Createur Chocolatier. This Belgian company produces exquisite confections worth every dollar spent. If you are willing to splurge on truly luscious Easter delights look no further. This spring Neuhaus has put together fabulous Easter baskets filled with spectacular creations including delicious marzipan cubes, creamy piped gianduja confections, pralines and chocolate eggs with delectable fillings (my personal favorites).
Easter Gift Baskets, $87-$273

Inexpensive
Nothing signifies Easter more than the Cadbury egg. For decades, Hershey’s has been known for a variety of novelty chocolates that have been a part of all of our childhoods. This Easter, spring for a festive gift basket stocked with the best Hershey’s creations including scrumptious Reese’s peanut butter cups, chocolaty Hershey’s kisses, chocolate eggs all in colorful pastels and solid chocolate Easter bunnies (which you can personalize).
Easter Gift Baskets, $14.95-$62.95


Bunnies
No Easter celebration is complete without a delectable chocolate bunny to bite into. It would be easy to recommend any old solid chocolate bunny however I like to spice things up, literally. Vosges Haut-Chocolat is bringing out the spices this season and creating the zestiest bunnies. With ingredients like chipotle chili peppers, Ceylon cinnamon, lemon zest, pink peppercorn and grey sea salt your taste buds are in for a treat.
Easter Bunnies, $12 each (2.5 oz.)

Peeps
Spring has arrived once colorful marshmallow peeps start appearing. This season pick up peeps that aren’t so traditional. Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company is putting a new spin on this classic by covering them in, you guessed it, chocolate! The marshmallow sweeties are saturated in velvety milk chocolate and are ready to be gobbled up.
Chocolate Covered Peeps, $11.95 (8 peeps)


Eggs
What would an Easter egg hunt be without the eggs? Scoop up some delicious milk chocolate eggs from Ghiradelli for your festivities. The brightly colored foils contain mouthwatering chocolaty delights guaranteed to satisfy your chocolate craving.

If you are willing to splurge a bit, I highly recommend Neuhaus’s seasonal eggs infused with decadent fillings including nutty praline, creamy gianduja, salted caramel and white chocolate. These morsels are truly eggs-quisite.
Ghiradelli Chocolate Eggs, $15 (20.75 oz.)
Neuhaus Easter Eggs, $58 (40 eggs)


Cookies
Take a break from all of the chocolate by biting into a soft and chewy cookie. Harvard’s Sweet Boutique is a personal favorite of mine because they use the freshest ingredients in their freshly baked goods. Munch on these scrumptious cookies glazed with sumptuous white chocolate and hand decorated to look like Easter eggs. These whimsical creations would be a tasty addition to an Easter party.
Easter Egg Shortbread Cookies, $30 (16 cookies)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coffee Break

If you’re like me and are active but can’t stand achy muscles during physical activity, you might be delighted to know that that extra cup of joe may just do the trick. In a recent study published in the April issue of International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers concluded that downing a cup of coffee before an intense workout reduces exercise related pain.
Competitive athletes regularly gulp a cup of coffee before competitions because they feel that caffeinated buzz gives them an extra edge. The researchers who conducted the study found that may be the case because caffeine lessens muscular discomfort felt during intense exercise. The 25 subjects who participated in the experiment were given a pill containing the equivalent of two or three cups of coffee and a placebo (sugar pill) one hour prior to engaging in an intense 30 minute cardio session. The participants reported feeling less pain in their leg muscles during the caffeine assisted session than with the placebo. What researchers found to be the most interesting is that caffeine tolerance had no effect on the study, that is, people who regularly drink coffee still get the pain reducing benefits of caffeine. Source
Don’t expect to see coffee mugs replacing water bottles at the gym but this is great news for those of us who want to reduce pain during exercise but increase athletic performance. I did a mini experiment of my own to test the results of this study. Since the sun is out a little longer these days I have been able to go on my intense two and a half hour run/hike after work. For the last two days I chugged down some espresso before the big workout and after. I actually cut my time by fifteen minutes and had enough energy to go further. The usual muscle achiness I feel during the run and the soreness I feel later on in the day never seemed to show up. Now, I’m no scientist so I’m sure my results aren’t as accurate as they should be however I think I’ll be drinking a cup of coffee before any intense workouts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pistachio Recalls

Another crop not normally associated with salmonella, a bacteria most known to effect animal products, has become the latest item to be pulled from the shelves. Pistachios are the latest victim in what seems to be a sudden increase in salmonella contamination. It was only a few months ago that the national peanut butter recall due to salmonella jolted the food industry now consumers are being advised to stay away from pistachios and products containing the nut that came from a specific distributor. Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. is the California nut grower and processor at the center of the latest recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the recall will include products in which pistachios were used as an ingredient.
It all started when Kraft Foods Inc.’s Back to Nature trail mix tested positive for the bacteria (which can be fatal in young children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system). Setton also may have distributed contaminated shelled and unshelled pistachios to Kroger Co., and Wal-Mart which produces Sam’s Choice private brand of pistachios. The Setton recall will involve more than 2 million pounds of pistachios. Kraft is recalling more than two dozen products containing pistachios under the Planter‘s and Back to Nature brands. Many grocery stores are following suit by pulling any items containing the nut from their shelves until they receive further information about the safety of the products. Diamond Food Inc. and some distributors of private label pistachios such as Walgreen Co. say their goods did not come from Setton therefore are not contaminated.
Though pistachios are not consumed as widely as peanuts, they do make their way into many products including ice cream and Middle Eastern pastries such as baklava. Source




Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Island Indulgence

Aloha! Have you ever dived into a dish that was so incredibly tasty you wouldn't mind flying hundreds or even thousands of miles for just one bite? Not that this was today's guest blogger's mission but that is just how good Hula Pie is. One of my favorite people, Laura (you might remember her from earlier last month--three words: pecan caramel cake), makes sure to chow down on this island treat every time she cruises on over to Maui and she's sharing her experience with us today. Take it away, Laura!
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Hula Pie! It’s not only as good as it looks, it’s even better--think mud pie taken to a whole new level.

Once a year I abandon my low-carb regime and indulge in the one dessert definitely worth those extra pounds. If you are an ice cream fan you will love the pint of macadamia nut ice cream that is used in just one slice of this incredible dessert. It is however the one inch thick fudge covering the top of the ice cream that makes my mouth water. And if all that chocolate isn’t enough, there is a thick crust of chocolate cookies lining the bottom of this delicious pie. Just when you thought this fantastic calorie packed goodness couldn’t get any better you’ll be pleased to find out it’s topped with chopped macadamia nuts and covered in whipped cream!

Every time I go to Maui I don’t think about the sun, the beaches or the palm trees, I think about one thing and one thing only, the HULA PIE! The enormous size of this dessert is enough to feed about 3 or 4 people however when I indulge in this tasty treat I take the challenge all on my own. The last night of my trip always consists of dinner at Leilani’s in Kaanapali where I order a Hula Pie for dinner. It is truly a challenge to finish this rich dessert but somehow I manage to devourer it all on my own!

It is in Maui where this creation originated. Kimo's Restaurant holds the rights to the original Hula Pie but this fantastic dessert is found at other TS restaurants around the islands such as Dukes and the Hula Grill. If you are too busy to make the flight on over to Hawaii you can still experience the Hula Pie in all its glory with a visit to Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe, Dukes in Malibu or Huntington Beach or any other TS restaurant in California.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Perfect Mold

I have tried dozens of times to bake the perfect birthday cake. Every time the cake tastes fabulous but the decoration could always use a little work. Who would have thought spelling out “Happy Birthday” would be so difficult? If you’re like me and could use a little assistance in the decorating department boy have I got the gadget for you! Introducing the Happy Birthday Cake Mold from Spoon Sisters. Just empty your cake batter into this food grade silicone mold and bake away without worrying about how you’ll perfectly display that festive phrase. This innovative creation is heat proof up to 300 degrees and can be tossed in the microwave for a snappy cake. It even has a quick cake recipe on the rim.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lick-able Logos

Massimo Gammacurta has created these hard candy treats featuring the most recognized fashion labels including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci. I wonder if they cost as much as the designer duds. Read more about these trendy lollipops here.

Apricots

Ah, yes, spring has arrived and the sweet smell of seasonal fruits is in the air. One of my favorite spring crops is the wonderful apricot. This fuzzy fruit is not only delicious but great for your health too. It is chock-full of beta-carotene and the super antioxidant Vitamin A that help protect the eyes and heart and repair tissue damaged by free radicals. Apricots originated in China but were brought to Europe from Armenia hence the oh so appropriate scientific name, Prunus armenaica. The top producer of apricots in the world is Turkey. In California is where most of our apricots are grown since it’s here in the sunny state that apricots thrive. Because the west coast climate mimics Mediterranean weather it is a perfect fit for the apricot tree. Apricots are fresh in the spring and summer but are available year round thanks to jarred apricots and the drying method. Dried apricots make their way into delicious dishes throughout the year and are used more than the fresh version in most recipes.

Speaking of delicious dishes, here is a tasty recipe for savory Armenian apricot soup courtesy of 101 Cookbooks. Give it a go!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get Well Soon, Peanut Butter!

In light of the ongoing peanut butter recalls, I would like to honor our creamy friend in this special tribute. I found the most tasty peanut butter infused treats and dishes that’ll have you running to the cupboard to take out that jar of pb and start baking or cooking up a storm. Read on about these treats to get the yummy recipes.

Peanut Butter Vegan Ice Cream with Chili-Spiked Sauce
Cool it down with this recipe for luscious peanut butter ice cream from The Conscious Kitchen.







Peanut Butter-Swirled Brownies

Get ready to whip up a batch of decadent peanut butter brownies with this fabulous recipe from The Kitchen Sink.




Peanut Butter Cup
Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
If you just tried sinking your teeth into your computer screen to taste this mouthwatering dessert then you should probably snatch the recipe from Mmmm, Brains!



Brownie Peanut Butter Cups

These moist brownies are filled with ooey gooey peanut butter goodness. Get the formula from Bake or Break.






Peanut Butter and Banana Cupcake with 5 Spice

Satisfy your cupcake craving by whipping up a batch of these zesty goodies using my favorite nutty butter. This scrumptious recipe is available at Couture Cupcakes.








Peanut Butter Scone

Serve up a hot cup of tea with this fantastic peanut buttery morning delight. Follow the recipe at My Sweet Vegan.




Peanut Butter Pad Thai

Who says peanut butter can’t be used in a savory dish? Try out this mouthwatering recipe.





Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Who wants a cookie? This yummy cookie recipe combines nutty peanut butter and rich chocolate for the ultimate indulgent experience.





Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcake

Forget the bread, I want my peanut butter and jelly on a cupcake. Feast on this classic in a new way by trying this fabulous recipe for pb&j cupcakes from How to Eat a Cupcake.
Photo Courtesy of Sweetness in Seattle







Peanut Butter Cinnamon Roll

Take a bite out of this lush cinnamon roll laced with creamy peanut butter. Yum! Get the recipe at My Sweet Vegan.