Flirty Cupcakes

>> Monday, July 12, 2010

I want to tell everyone a story. It's filled with adventure, love and of course, a hero. Our story begins like so many others; one day I was glancing at my Twitter feed when I noticed a re-tweet about a "flirty cupcake." Intrigued, I clicked on the link and was taken to a Facebook page where there are different times and locations scheduled around Chicago. I'm no genius, but I quickly ascertained that we were dealing with some sort of traveling cupcake machine...SOLD.

Street food is nothing new to me, but in Chicago, Mayor Daley would prefer that we not have street vendors so it's been a while since I've had the pleasure of stumbling along say, a Mr. you can understand my compulsiveness checking out the list of times and locations and the disappointment in realizing none are near me for a couple of days. Tragedy of all tragedies.

For several days I stalk the Facebook and Twitter sites for any indication that Flirty Cupcakes and their trusted van, Big Blue will be headed my way. Nothing. Nothing in a 5 block radius. I am beginning to think that maybe the Flirty Cupcake and I just aren't meant to be.

Then one hot summer day, my co-worker Emily tells me the good news - Big Blue will be by our office around 3pm! Alarms set, bags packed and 2 hours to go! I will finally have my cupcake! Then as if the universe is really trying to tell me to stick to my diet, we see the update that Big Blue is out of cupcakes and they will return first thing tomorrow. Hope, sorrow, extreme feelings of loss. I can't describe the pain of that moment.

So we waited...and at 10:55am the next day, we head out the door. It's time.

As we walk up the stairs onto Illinois street, I am taken back at what can only be described as a batman mobile for cupcakes. Well actually, what a batman mobile would be like if all it did was eat cupcakes, either way this thing was awesome. Big Blue is in fact blue with pink accents everywhere. There's a large contraption at the top which I assume cools the van down so the cupcakes can maintain a constant temperature.

They have quite a variety of choices, but eyes go straight for my favorite - red velvet with cream cheese icing. This will be the ultimate test, because after spending a decent amount of time down South, I learned what a proper red velvet cake and cream cheese icing should taste like (not to mention it's my best friends favorite and I need to do right by my Elizabeth). With cute names like "Devil in Disguise," "McDreamy," and "The Curious George" etc. it definitely takes a minute to register all the deliciousness that could be had.

Headed back with my "Devil in Disguise" I am ready to indulge (before lunch nonetheless). I sit down at my desk and bask in the glory that is the cupcake. First thing I notice - strong proportions of frosting to cake. It seems like cupcake shops clobber on frosting like they never want to see me in a bathing suit. Next I notice that the wrapper is almost translucent; no complaints from me - this just means the cake is moist. I take my first bite. White noise. This is good. This is really good. 

The cake is so moist its almost hard to believe, the icing is a little hot from our trek back the office, but it is the RIGHT proportion of cream cheese to butter and sugar and not so sugary that you can feel the sugar crystals (you know what I am talking about - where the icing is almost crunchy/gritty). In general the proportions are just right, cupcakes now seem like they could be enough for three people, I can happily say that this cupcake was perfect for little ole me. And, yes, the cupcake is the hero in this story :)

So if you are in Chicago, follow Flirty Cupcakes on Twitter and Facebook - their dedicated team updates constantly throughout the day letting you know their positions. You won't be disappointed!!


Berry Yogurt Bars

>> Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What is this delicious thing you are looking at? Well considering it was over 100 degrees yesterday in Chicago it was a little piece of heaven, but on all other days it's merely a double berry frozen yogurt bar. Refreshing, healthy, and easy to make!! I am telling you - this month's Everyday Food was rocking! This recipe was straight forward and definitely delivered on flavor. I deviated a bit, but hey, that's what recipes are for :)

Ingredients (for 6 molds)

  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries (or really any berry - I used black raspberries that I bought from Farmer's Market)
  • 1 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 lemon or lime (optional)
  • Popsicle molds (I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond)

Prepare yourself: this is going to be easy and fairly painless. If you can puree and pour you are going to be good to go. 

First add your cup of strawberries and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a food processor and blend until smooth (about a minute). Pour into bowl.

Next add your blueberries to the food processor, with a tablespoon of sugar and a little lemon or lime juice and zest. This is optional, but I really think it adds a little kick. Blend until smooth and pour into separate bowl.

In a separate bowl (I know lots of bowls going on) add a tablespoon of sugar to your 1 and 1/4 cup of yogurt. 

Next pour your mixtures into the popsicle molds, alternating between berries and yogurt. You want to get anywhere between 3 and 5 layers. 

Once all the layers have been added, take a skewer or knife and swirl and mix the layers. 

Place in freezer for several hours until frozen.

I made this recipe and a whim and can honestly say it's the perfect summer treat to escape the heat and all things considered incredibly healthier than ice cream and has the same effect. The Everyday Food recipe estimates that each of these bars has a measly 56 calories and about 2 grams of fat. When you compare that to a cup of ice cream, the numbers can be as high from 400 calories and 16 grams of fat. 

The frozen yogurt has such a nice cooling effect and the hint of sugar to the berries gives me all the sweet I need (and trust me I have a SWEET tooth). 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!!  


Soba Noodle Stir Fry

>> Friday, July 2, 2010

I live alone, and I like living alone and because I live alone, I often talk to myself or make comments on how awesome I am. This is actually probably why I live alone, but that doesn't matter. The night I made this meal, you would have thought that Food Network was there filming me. I was describing textures, flavors, complexity all to myself, but you know what? I really don't care - this meal was just that awesome. 

I've been out of my kitchen for a while now and am slowly starting to get back in it. After a night of yoga in the park, I knew that I needed something hearty. Luckily I went on a random shopping trip earlier in the week and bought a bunch of Asian ingredients. I knew they would come together but I didn't know how...

After a brief search on my Whole Foods app it appeared that a stir fry would be the way to go. 

Ingredients (this should make enough for two!)
  • Soba noodles
  • 1 carrot
  • mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp scallions
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1-2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/4 c. Hoisin sauce 
  • 1tbsp Soy sauce
  • vegetable oil 
  • any other veggies you would like to include


First off let's get our pans ready to go - fill a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Also add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet or wok and apply medium heat.

Next chop up the ginger and garlic into a fine chop and slice the scallions into 1/8 pieces. Julienne the carrot and thinly slice mushrooms and onions.

Add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the skillet. Cook until fragrant (and trust me you will know - we're working with some seriously good smelling stuff). Once the ginger, garlic and scallions are smelling good (about a minute or two) add the mushrooms and onions.

Hopefully by now your water is boiling - add enough Soba noodles for two. I generally take a pretty good handful and drop them in. Remember we are going to add to our stir fry so only cook the noodles for about five minutes (set a timer! overcooked noodles will taste like mush).

So just to recap: we have our noodles in the pot, and the skillet is full of onions, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and scallions.

Once the mushrooms and onions have cooked for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots. I found that by adding the carrots too early, they lose all their crunch.

Hopefully by now you have removed your noodles from the water and rinsed with cold water to stop the cooking. In a medium skillet add a touch of oil and set on medium high heat. Once the oil is able to easily slide from side to side, add the Soba noodles. We are just going to cook until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Once the noodles are browned, add the larger stir fry mixture.

In a small sauce bowl, combine the Hoisin and soy sauce. By now your noodles and veggies should be in one skillet, add the sauce to this mixture.

Stir constantly on medium low heat.

Plate and serve!!!

There you go! Veggie stir fry! I've made this many times and whats great is you can really use whatever vegetables you have on hand, anything can go in this. This night I paired with a the honey-soy glaze that I love and it was just AMAZING. Healthy, fresh and light - I couldn't ask for much more :)

Happy Eating!



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