Cookie Monster Cupcakes

 
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Cookie Monster cupcakes have been done. Many, many times. But for our son’s first birthday, I decided awesomeness was far more important than originality. And then they turned out to be even more awesome than I expected, so I thought I’d come out of hiding to post my results.


Cookie Monster Cupcakes

First off, the cupcake beneath the awesomeness needed to be okay for a certain young man who was just turning one. This was complicated by his dairy sensitivity, which unfortunately he has yet to grow out of. I ended up making the applesauce spice cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, replacing the butter with a non-partially-hydrogenated margarine we picked up at Whole Foods and the sugar and brown sugar with coconut palm sugar, an alternative sweetener that falls very low on the glycemic index. What that means for a one year old is a sugar high and subsequent crash are much less likely. The cupcakes were pretty good. They tasted great, and they were very moist, though possibly a little too moist. I think if I bake with the coconut palm sugar again, I’ll give it a whirl in the VitaMix first because it seemed too coarse to cream properly with the margarine.

More importantly, the birthday boy signed Delicious after tasting them–ah, the way to a foodie mom’s heart! If you sign with your baby, I highly recommend working on Delicious from the minute they start solid foods. Sure, More and All Done are practical, but your job satisfaction rating will soar the first time you get a rave review like this. Continue reading

Review: Chocri Customized Chocolate Bars

 
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Chocri
What: Gift-worthy chocolate bars topped with a custom mix of toppings
Price range: Roughly $10 to $15 based on my bars, depending the toppings
Recommended chocolates: All of them
Recommended toppings: Honey chocolate drops, strawberry chocolate drops, real gold flakes, dried raspberry, dried strawberry, anise seed, hazelnut brittle, toasted hazelnuts, marzipan rose

When I received a very friendly email from Carmen at Chocri offering to send me three of their custom chocolate bars in the hopes of hearing my opinion of them, I jumped at the chance to do a review.

Okay, okay, I got very excited about the prospect of free fancy chocolate and then didn’t respond to the email for months. Oops. Pregnancy does odd things to the brain. But once I started to get the hang of my new full-time mommy job, the siren song of my food blog started calling to me, and I remembered the offer. Then I jumped at the chance, and Chocri was kind enough to give me a belated shot at it.

Now, I have to admit my first thought when I checked out their site (http://createmychocolate.com/) was I could make that. Anyone with a creative bent has had that thought before, whether looking at something in a boutique or magazine or online. Usually it accompanies an urge to purchase said item. But no matter how much you want it, no matter how much you acknowledge the ingenuity of the person or company who came up with it and or at least put a novel spin on it, I could make that is usually enough to keep your wallet in your purse or pocket, even when you know you never will get around to it.


Review:  Chocri Custom Chocolate Bars

I was getting the chocolate bars for free, but even so I was haunted by the I could make that vibe as I set off to explore the site. I had this idea that the bars would be way better or more fun or something similarly vague yet persuasive if I made them myself. And I certainly wouldn’t pay for something I could make in my own kitchen. Continue reading

Quinoa, A Million Ways

 
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I’ve meant to write a post about my super simple “recipe” for quinoa for ages now. Not because there’s any lack of wonderful quinoa recipes and blog posts online, but because I’m always recommending quinoa to people for its adaptability, healthiness and general quick-and-easy tastiness. It would be nice to be able to point to a set of instructions online rather than bore friends and family with my usual confusing and wordy explanation. So here it is.

My quinoa won’t win any awards for being photogenic (you’ll notice I don’t have a picture for this post, although that has something to do with the Mini Foodie monopolizing my time and my photographic skills at the moment), and sometimes it doesn’t come out the ideal al dente texture. But I can have a healthy and satisfying one-pot meal ready in 45 minutes start to finish with only 10 minutes of my attention needed, less if I make plain quinoa with veggie stock in the rice cooker and top it with things as I eat each serving. (I’ve been doing this since our Mini Foodie came so I don’t have to be worried about needing to tend the pot when the timer goes off.) Continue reading