Monday, January 31, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 31st, 2011

Cupcake Magnet

I got a fabulous care package from Shop N' Chomp recently, and just had to share the magnet that was included- LOVE!! And totally accurate, haha.  Thanks for the lovely gifts!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 28th, 2011

Shinzi Katoh Air Freshener


On our day trip to NYC over the holidays, we walked through the holiday market in Bryant Park - lots of cute little shops with jewelry, crafts, food, and all sorts of little gift-y items.  I was excited to come across a Japanese-theme shop that sold lots of stationary, calendars, and decorative items, to name a few.  I saw this Shinzi Katoh air freshener and picked up a few- so cute!  Shinzi Katoh has a very whimsical and distinct look, as you can see in their website.  I only have a few of their bento accessories but am always on the lookout for cute items like this one.  What a nice surprise find in Bryant Park!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 27th, 2011

Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake Mix

Since it was the holidays and all, I figured it'd be a good time for me to try out the Sprinkles red velvet cupcake mix that my mom got me from Williams-Sonoma.  I opened up the Pringles-esque container and found cake mix, candy decorative dots, and the REAL recipe, haha.  If you've ever picked up one of these canisters at Williams-Sonoma before, you might notice that they do not include the full recipe on the outside packaging, only the extra ingredients that are needed.  I guess they don't want people to just copy the recipe without buying the mix?  But to be honest I'm not entirely sure why they do this, because presumably you'd need to buy the cake mix inside to make the "official" Sprinkles cupcakes anyway, but oh well.

After a somewhat turbulent mixing process - aka I got bright red cake flour ALL over the counter and even up on top of the stove hood............ - I popped these into the oven and shortly wound up with these little puffy red mushrooms, haha.

Then, after frosting with the cream cheese frosting (not included) and decorating with the candy dot (included):


...we've got Sprinkles cupcakes!  Appearance-wise, I think these turned out really well- the domed shape of the cake helped to create a nice and tall cupcake with a swirl of yummy frosting on top.  Overall the recipe was super easy- just be mindful of mixing the bright red flour carefully, haha.   To be honest I liked these much better than the real Sprinkles cupcake I had in LA, but that's because I most likely did not get a fresh-baked cupcake when I went there, haha.  

One possible drawback might be that you're paying $12 for essentially just cake mix.  I'd be inclined to agree, but as a gift, I think it's super cute (and ships well, which is a nice bonus).   If anyone's on the fence about it, I say: wait until seasonal flavors go on sale to try it out (usually the fall flavors go on sale after Thanksgiving), and/or convince someone to get one for you as a gift :o)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 26th, 2011

ATL Wedding Weekend Treats!

Of course I couldn't go away for a weekend without telling you about the food.  We all had a great weekend in Atlanta for A & D's wedding!! 

On the night before the wedding, A & D were nice enough to include me in the rehearsal dinner, held at the Iberian Pig restaurant in Decatur, GA.  The meal was AWESOME- course after course of tasty tapas and other shared plates - SO much food!  I would absolutely go back there again if I ever find myself nearby, haha.  Seriously, check out the online menu- I'm hungry again just from thinking of the dishes we had!  The food looked so good that I was way more focused on eating it all vs. taking photos, haha.  However, I did manage to photograph one of the desserts, which was churros (the photo was taken after a few were already snatched up, haha) with a thick chocolate dipping sauce, yum!

Being that it was A's wedding, of course there would be cupcakes :o)  Here's the cupcake tower at their wedding reception, complete with a giant cupcake cake on top!


Sadly, my attempt at being "good" and only sampling from the mini cupcakes resulted in me MISSING OUT on the three regular-size flavors, including the Red Velvet, d'oh!  I mistakenly thought that all of the regular-size cupcakes were the same as the minis, but I was sadly mistaken.  But these minis were super delicious: pumpkin, s'mores, and I think a banana nut?  I liked the pumpkin one the best but they were all delicious.  

Once again, I'd like to congratulate A & D - their wedding was great, they both looked fantastic, and the whole wedding was totally a reflection of their personalities and their love for each other- so, CONGRATS again you two!!!

Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore Street
Decatur, GA 30030

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 25th, 2011

Georgetown Cupcake - Strawberry Champagne Cupcake

Ooh, la la! Helloooooooooo, Strawberry Champagne cupcake!  I first heard about this new Georgetown Cupcake flavor when the sisters made these on their appearance on Oprah back in December, and was super excited to find out that it would also be one of the January flavors. 

This cupcake is a "classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake baked with fresh strawberries and champagne with a chocolate ganache core and topped with a champagne infused buttercream frosting and a ganache star".  Besides the absurdly long run-on sentence, the description sounds pretty delicious, right? 

Well I can personally vouch for the tastiness of this cupcake, cus it was awesome!  I actually wish I hadn't waited this long to try it, because it's only available through January, boo.  The champagne flavors don't really come through since I'm assuming it's baked off from the cake, but the frosting definitely tastes different than their regular vanilla buttercream frosting- a little fluffier, more like a whipped, airy frosting.  Overall this cupcake was delicious, especially with the extra fudge core in the middle.  What a great-tasting cupcake, hope to see it again as a free daily cupcake one of these days!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 24th, 2011

Georgetown Cupcake: Free Lava Fudge Snowball Cupcake

Ah, Lava Fudge, how I love thee. 

Ah, Coconut, how I loathe thee. 

As you might figure out, I have pretty mixed feelings on this particular flavor from Georgetown Cupcake, haha.  But then again if you know me or have read previous cupcake posts before, you won't be surprised that I hate coconut so there was no way I was going to love this flavor.  Luckily I brought this cupcake to NJ with me so someone in my family could eat it, and I can just have one bite for the sake of this review. 

And by "review", I pretty much mean state the obvious- loved the bottom cake, hated the coconut topping, haha.  But if you're a fan of chocolate and coconut this cupcake would be perfect for you.  I love how the Lava Fudge cupcake has that extra gooey fudge core to add even more richness to the chocolate cake.  Also, visually, it's a v. cute and festive cupcake for the wintertime. 


Friday, January 21, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 21st, 2011

Kit Kat Citrus Blend

I was super excited to get a new batch of Japanese Kit Kats from my mom on her last visit - one of them being this box of Citrus Blend.  The blend consists of the following fruits: Onsen mikan (tangerine), Lemon, and Sudachi

The one thing I like about these "big box" Kit Kats is that each individually wrapped Kit Kat is a smidge shorter than a regular Kit Kat, so it's ideal for a small snack.  The color on this one was pretty - a light sherbert-y pale orange hue. 

Unfortunately those were the only things I liked about these Kit Kats- it had an overwhelming aroma of artificial citrus, like a Orangsicle on steroids.  Unfortunately, I'm in the weird camp that loves orange/citrus flavors but not when it's mixed with a cream or vanilla flavor.  But, of course I'm happy to have tried a new flavor and it was interesting to find out how this one was going to taste. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 20th, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

I realize that 2011 is already well underway, but I just wanted to get this post out while it was still January at least, haha.  This year, being the year of the Rabbit, there are lots of rabbit-themed goodies around, particularly in Japanese or other Asian stores. 

We got this cute lil' rabbit treat from Minamoto Kitchoan in NYC, conveniently located in Midtown by the Radio City Music Hall.  The store is packed with all sorts of tasty Japanese wagashi (Japanese confection, usually served with tea) and there's a lot to choose from in the small space.  This rabbit wagashi came 5 to a box, with the box being shaped like a large rabbit.  Each bite-sized rabbit had a sweet white bean paste and yuzu filling, lots of flavor in such a small package!  If anyone is around the area, I'd highly recommend popping into this store and picking up some treats.  Happy Year of the Rabbit, everyone!

Minamoto Kitchoan
608 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10020

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 19th, 2011

Rooibos Dessert at Hakubai Restaurant, NYC

Over the holidays, my mom and I ventured out to NYC for the day, taking in a long lunch, shopping, the Rockefeller Center tree, and the Museum of Modern Art.  We decided to try somewhere new for lunch, and ate at the Hakubai restaurant in the Kitano Hotel.  It was a great lunch with lots of yummy Japanese dishes, but the highlight was definitely my dessert (above).  My set lunch menu came with dessert, so I decided to get the Rooibos tea jelly, since it sounded like the most interesting choice. 

What came out was a small tea cup with what appeared to be custard and some whipped cream on top.  I spooned through the custard and found a darker orange jelly underneath the yellow custard, so it was more like a layered mousse/jelly.  The tea flavor was pretty strong and had that distinct Rooibos tea taste.  I loved the presentation of this dessert and the idea of tea desserts in general.  I wish more restaurants would do dishes like this, and not just with green tea (although clearly I love green tea, haha).  What a great way to end a really refined and tasty Japanese lunch :o)   

Hakubai at the Kitano New York
66 Park Avenue at East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
212.885.7111 // on OpenTable

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 18th, 2011

Kate Spade Crossbody Bag

One more post about a Christmas present purse, this time courtesy of Kate Spade

I've become more interested in crossbody bags, which isn't surprising since they seem to be EVERYWHERE in department stores.  I love the fact that you can go about your day, juggling your cell phone in one hand, a skim latte in the other, and not have to worry about carrying your purse on your arm... or is that just me?

This one is one of the larger crossbody bags I've seen (not counting the large totes that come with a long strap), which I like because I tend to carry a lot of random stuff with me at all times.  I don't have the exact measurements, but it's just a bit smaller than a regular sheet of paper? I guess.  I love the metallic gunmetal color, which to me means I can wear it out at night, or for casual outings during the day.  It also lays flat against my body, instead of bouncing around like the more rounded/cube-like crossbody bags tend to do, at least in my experience, haha.  Extra bonus?  This bag was on sale at Nordstrom! (I was there when it was purchased as a gift for me, hence why I know that, haha).

Side note: LOVE the covers that come with the bags... how cute is this saying?? Loves it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 17th, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Snickerdoodle Cookie Ice Cream

Oh, snickerdoodle cookies.  What a wonderously simple but oh-so-comforting cookie.  I have fond memories of snickerdoodle cookies, as they're one of the first cookie recipes I actually ever made on my own when I was little.  C'mon, what kid wouldn't have fun rolling dough into a pile of cinnamon and sugar "sand"? 

So, it was no surprise that I picked up this pint of Ben & Jerry's Snickerdoodle Cookie ice cream, which consists of "Buttery cinnamon ice cream loaded with snickerdoodle cookies".  Sign me up!

Overall I really enjoyed this ice cream.  The most dominant flavor is cinnamon, being that it's in both the ice cream and the cookie pieces, so be forewarned if you're sorta "meh" about cinnamon overload.  Then again, if you didn't like cinnamon to begin with, why are you eating this? Haha.  There isn't much of a texture or flavor contrast in ice cream, which I sorta miss, but that would be my only negative comment.  If you're a fan of cookie dough ice cream and want to try something new, give this one a try! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 14th, 2011

Wedding Weekend!

This weekend I'll be heading down to A & D's wedding down in Atlanta, woooooooooo!  So excited to spend the long weekend celebrating and having a blast in the ATL, haha.  My last visit (posted here and here) was awesome and super delicious, so I have no doubt that it'll be a fun weekend :o) 

Hope you all enjoy the long weekend if you also have Monday off from work!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 13th, 2011

  • The Kitchn: Using muffin tins to freeze soup.
  • Serious Eats: The bread at Eataly in NYC.
  • Gaga Daily: Lady Gaga named International artist of the year in Japan.
  • YumSugar: Trader Joe's sandwich recipe.
  • The Peche: Malted crisp tart from the Baked cookbook.

Georgetown Cupcake - Honey Banana Cupcake

I was recently at Georgetown Cupcake on a Monday, meaning I could finally try the Honey Banana flavor!  This is: a fresh banana cupcake topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting and a fondant snowflake (for the winter, instead of the regular flower). 

Interestingly enough, the main issue I had with this cupcake is the lack of honey flavor.  Which, now that I've read the menu on their site, would make sense since there is no mention of honey in their own description.  What the heck??

That being said, I liked the banana cake and if you're a fan of having cinnamon rolls/monkey bread/coffee cake/sweet muffins for breakfast, (assuming you also like bananas haha) you'd like this cupcake too.  The vanilla frosting with the banana cake together tasted almost like banana bread with a vanilla yogurt topping of sorts, in a good way, haha.  But perhaps they should call it the "Banana cupcake" if there isn't any honey in it??

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 12th, 2011

Philadelphia Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Well, well, well, what do we have here?

Hello, elusive Pumpkin Spice cream cheese!  I had heard about this flavor a while back, but hadn't seen it in the grocery store until recently.  Then again, it's not like I was camping out at the customer service desk until they carried it or anything, so who knows when it actually came out, haha. 

For my first taste, I tried out this cream cheese on a toasted bagel for breakfast.  It definitely smelled and tasted like pumpkin, so props for accuracy, but was a little too sweet for me.  I think that's probably because I'm used to eating bagels with cream cheese and lox, so having something that sweet on a bagel really threw me off.

Not to fear, it didn't all go to waste:

I baked up a batch of vanilla cupcakes and frosted them with a pumpkin cream cheese frosting!  I used a basic cream cheese frosting recipe from Bon Appetit magazine and used a Ziplock bag as a piping bag to (attempt to but clearly fail at) pipe the frosting on to the cupcakes.  I tried to go for an even swirly pattern but I think I over-mixed the frosting, because it was a little too thin to hold up its shape.


They were a big hit at work and I think it was a v. good use of the pumpkin cream cheese.  Alas, I still have some work to do on my frosting skills, but taste-wise these cupcakes were great! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 11th, 2011

Marc By Marc Jacobs Bag


Just wanted to share one of my Christmas presents this year- a new Marc By Marc Jacobs bag, woo!  Marc By Marc Jacobs accessories are some of my favorite pieces- always cute, fun, and just a little different from other brands.  

This one is a little smaller than my normal gargantuan tote bags, so it's forcing me to be a little more organized.  Aka, don't throw anything and everything in my bags, haha.  But it's a great everyday bag, and the leather is as soft as buttah.


Love the cute little turnlock detail that a lot of Marc By Marc Jacobs bags have!  It doesn't actually work as a lock for the bag, but cute nonetheless.  What are your favorite handbag brands?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 10th, 2011

NYC Christmas Window Displays

I know it's after the holidays but I just wanted to share this one display that I came across in NYC, at Lord & Taylor I believe?  Holidays, food, and jewelry- so girly and fun! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 7th, 2011

Japanarama: Milk no Melonpan Cookies

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up this box of Melonpan ("melon bread" in Japanese) at the Japanese grocery store.  I just hadn't seen it before in recent visits and figured it was worth a try.

But first, some background info: Japanese Melonpan is actually not melon-flavored (traditionally, at least), but the way the top is scored, it resembles a melon in appearance.  Taste-wise they're just a plain sweet bread, usually with some sugar coating on top to enhance the melon look, haha. 

Anyway, back to these cookies.  According to the box these are mini-Melonpans with a milk-flavored chocolate filling.  When I opened the bag, all I could smell was an overwhelming artificial vanilla flavor.  I tried a few of these little nuggets and found them to be pretty boring, unfortunately.  It wasn't worth eating the whole box of them (there were about 10 of these in the box) since they weren't that great-tasting.

Clearly I wasn't expecting these cookies to taste exactly like real Melonpan, but I also wasn't expecting to taste so blah either.  Oh well, live and learn.  Maybe if the filling didnt' taste so similar to the outside, it could've turned out better.  Womp wommmmmmmmp.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 6th, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream


Dear Ben (and/or Jerry), Thank you for instinctively knowing that I love Boston Cream Pie and making a new ice cream flavor based on it!  This new Ben & Jerry's pint is packed with: "Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream with yellow cake pieces, fudge flakes, and swirls of pastry cream".  Side note: When I was younger my favorite ice cream flavor was French Vanilla- I couldn't get enough of that rich, egg-y, bright yellow, smack your face vanilla flavor.  This could be the very reason why I enjoyed this ice cream, haha.  The dominant flavor is a v. sweet vanilla flavor, with bits of cake added.  The fudge flakes seem like more of an afterthought, they could've definitely put more of them in the pint.  

Now, it doesn't REALLY taste like a Boston Cream Pie mainly due to the obvious texture differences and the lack of real custard, but I still really like it for what it is.  I hope this new flavor sticks around in the rotation!  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 5th, 2011

Godiva: Chocolate Lava Cake and Green Tea Truffles


If you aren't already a member, I'd highly recommend that you all sign up for the Godiva Rewards Club.  It's free, and you get a few perks, the big one being that you get a free piece of chocolate in the store every month!  I recently went for my free chocolate and picked up the Chocolate Lava Cake (left), and bought one of the Green Tea truffles from the Top Chef Just Desserts collection.  

 The Chocolate Lava Cake was super rich and lava-licious on the inside, as you might expect from the name, haha. It was probably a bad idea to bite into it, because the insides were really liquidy, so I'd recommend carefully biting into it, or just eating the whole thing in one bite.   

The Green Tea truffle was also v. sweet, but a little more complex in flavor than the Chocolate Lava Cake truffle.  It has a: "Matcha tea mousse center in a white chocolate shell decorated with green stringing".  Despite the inside of the truffle being a pretty green shade, it smelled and tasted overwhelmingly of white chocolate over anything else.  I like white chocolate so it wasn't really a problem, per se, but still pretty disappointing that there wasn't much of a green tea flavor to the chocolate.  It's v. pretty to look at though, if that helps, haha.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 4th, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions seem to be v. polarizing- either you love them and make a ton, or you hate them and actively profess your disdain towards resolutions and those that make them, haha.  I for one like having a list of things that I'd like to complete throughout the year- might as well start in January when we're all feeling renewed and motivated!

You might notice that my list is pretty specific, maybe overly so.  I do this on purpose so that it's a tangible statement that I can either say I did, or didn't do.  On the other hand, if I said something vague like "Read more", I wouldn't really have anything to evaluate myself against, since it's too general of a resolution for me.  Now I'm not saying this is how it should be for everyone, but more that this is what I know works for me.

I'm posting these on my blog mainly as a way of holding myself accountable.  That's the other thing about my resolutions- I have to tell people to make it seem "real", like I actually have to follow through on them, haha.  Here's what I've got so far, although I'll prob wind up adding some more later:

- Continue to do my nails once a week.  I actually liked this one from last year and I could do it so I'll keep it, haha.

- Eat mostly only homemade (by me or someone else, aka Georgetown Cupcake still applies) desserts/treats unless it's something I really want.  Clearly exceptions will be made on a situational basis, but for the most part this applies to me not eating the random storebought cookies that someone brings in to work because it won't really be that good/worth it anyway.

- Make at least two dishes from Cooking Light magazine each month once the new issue arrives.  More is always better but hope to try at least two each month.

- Along that note, make at least one more recipe from one of my 9238749237492384 cookbooks each week.  I cook a lot at home but not really a lot of new recipes, more just throwing stuff together that I have. 

-  Be more thorough with my skincare, using all the products I have, especially at night.  Right now I always do face wash, eye cream, and lotion in the morning and night, but I have all these other products that I use only occasionally, so I'll try to make sure to use them every day. 

- Use the kettlebell I bought at TJMaxx a few days ago for at least 30 minutes while watching tv every night.

So there you have it, my completely random and not-quite-life-changing list of resolutions, haha.  Anyone else care to share what resolutions they have?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lunchtime Links for January 3rd, 2011

Hello 2011!

I hope everyone had a great end of 2010 and we're all set to start 2011 off right!

I try to come up with a handful of resolutions, most of which aren't exactly super important or life-changing (one of them last year was to do my nails once a week, haha), but still good to have in mind, it being a fresh start and all.  I still haven't come up with my complete list yet, but hope to by the middle of January- maybe coming up with the list can be the first resolution on the said list, haha.  Anyone have resolutions that they'd like to share?