Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food Truck Friday

Food trucks are all the rage these days.  I don't know about other cities, but these trucks are buzzing through the streets of Chicago like a swarm of bees.  They come in all shapes and sizes and carry all different types of cuisines.  Being the good friend that I am, I accompanied Matt so he could scope the goods these mobile kitchens had to offer.  It just so happens there was a cupcake truck - Sweetie Cakes - mixed in with the sliders, mac n cheese, and tamales.  Obviously I had to check it out.  I decided on "spice me up"- spiced sweet potato zucchini cake with a brown butter buttercream frosting aka fall in your mouth.
1) The Cake - Similar to a spice cake.  I liked the flavor a lot, but it had more of a muffin consistency.  This makes sense considering the ingredients.  2) icing - good flavor, but VERY sweet.  It works with the cake though.  3) Presentation - so, I didn't get to see the cupcake before purchasing which I didn't love.  Once purchased I thought it looked delish and obvi loved the holder so I could carry it back to my office without smearing the frosting.  4)creativity - very creative.  Can't say that I have come across another sweet potato zucchini cupcake.  5)overall happiness - so happy.  As I mentioned earlier it was like biting into fall.  The combo was perfect together and I absolutely appreciated that they were delivered right to me!
If Sweetie Cakes parks out front again I will be sure to stop by and try another one!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cincinnati Love

Well, it is no secret that I have mad love for Cincinnati.  Unfortunately..Cincinnati does not have mad love for cupcakes.  sigh.  How is it that I, cupcake lover and connoisseur, came from a city without a phenomenal cupcake?  I started asking myself how I even fell into this addiction hobby.  I traced it back to Chicago.  On a trip to the windy city to visit my friend Katie, she took me to Sweet Mandy B's.  Those cupcakes are the only reason I even moved here.  Kidding! kind of...I do keep moving closer and closer to the shop.  Anyway, I have always had a sweet tooth, and that my friends began in Cincinnati.  While they may not do cupcakes well, they have some stellar bakeries.  I have favorite treats at each one and not a single one is a cupcake.  On that note, I will give you a brief tour of Cincinnati's best.

First, The BonBonerie (  This is a cute little shop located in Oakley.  You can smell the sugar when pulling into the parking lot.  It is small and always crowded, so if you are impatient like me it is best to get there early.  Especially if you are visiting near a holiday.  Madness

The cases are packed with some of the most beautiful and delicious sweets I have ever had.  My go-to...
Sugar Cookies!  I never pick sugar cookies...EVER.  If faced with a cookie decision the absolute last choice would be a sugar cookie.  The only place that rule doesn't apply is The Bon Bonerie.  These cookies are a-ma-zing!  not only are they beautiful, but they are so good.  I usually think if a dessert is pretty it wont be good.  Not here.  Aren't they so cute?  They change them up for every holiday/season, but you can also get custom cookies.  They make such a perfect gift
No one is ever mad about getting a little pink box!

Next...Busken! ( There is more than one Busken location throughout the city, but the one pictured below - open 24 hours!
Busken also has cases packed with treats, but they are most well known for their smiley face cookies.  As you can see they also make them in support of the Reds (love).
They created "the skinny cookie" - the healthier version on the smiley cookie.  One word - gross.  Don't waste your time on these.  Like eating chalk.  Just get the original cookie and try to have some self control to not eat the entire box in one sitting.

They are a very creative bakery - hence the "boosken" onesie.  They have clever billboards all throughout the city which are too funny.  I think there is even a book of all the billboards.
Always love canine support!
I have 2 favorites at Busken.  The first...
Chocolate tea cookies!  They have other iced ones, but the chocolate are the best.  My friend Erin got me hooked on these bad boys.  When I lived with her she would always come home with a bag of fresh cookies and we would just sit there and snack away.  Now I crave them and have to get some every time I go back to Cincinnati.  My other favorite at Busken is Schnecken.  If you are not familiar, Schnecken is a german type cinnamon bun.  You can only get it around the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays, so yes, I am waiting patiently for Schnecken season.

Lastly, Servatii (  Also, multiple locations.
Servatii's is bringing out all the German we have in Cincinnati.  When I think of this bakery I think of coffee cakes more than actual cakes.  My mom would pick one up from here each weekend.  Two of my best friends worked at Servatii's in high school.  I also blame them for my sweet tooth since I had cakes, cookies, and anything else they offered right at my fingertips!  Those were the days...

My favorite...not even a sweet!  I am obsessed with their pretzel bread.  I would always pop in and pick up a couple of the pretzel bagels for sandwiches, or to snack on plain.
They also make the best rolls.  
So Cincinnati, I forgive you!  You may not have any outstanding cupcakes, but you have the best bakeries.  I will now be counting down the days til Christmas as this post has made me super homesick.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Baby Cakes

I'm an aunt..again!  You may remember a few posts back when I attempted to ship some cupcakes to my niece and nephews, well now I get to add another little lady to the list.  Hannah Beck was born on September 12th!  Now the count holds at 3 boys and 2 girls.  I was lucky enough to get back to meet her shortly after she came home.  Obviously, I had to greet her with cupcakes!

I whipped up the same vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream that I sent to the other nuggets back in the beginning of September - Recipe here

Pink icing seemed highly appropriate
I found these amazing boxes at Michael's to travel with and deliver the cupcakes!
Per usual I had to take them through security at the airport and squish em on the plane til they were safe in Ohio.  The fact that these boxes have individual holders make it so much easier on me.  Usually it is a test of my balance and I end up with one rebel cupcake that decides to somehow do a backflip mid-trip.
Not this time!  I love these boxes.  They also look so much classier than when I gift cupcakes in Glad.  There are several options for any occasion.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

City Secrets

When I first moved to Chicago back in December, I was taught a very important piece of to get to the State Street Macy's from my office without taking a step outside.  Some of you may think this isn’t a big deal, but when it is -7 outside and you need a new pair of boots it becomes a huge deal!  This is the Macy's downtown which has the giant Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, an entire floor dedicated to seasonal merchandise (guilty pleasure) AND the food court contains Frontera Grill.  Yea, Frontera Grill as in Rick Bayless' mexican masterpiece.  Kind of makes chik-fil-a look subpar.  Now, this adventure is no walk in the park.  It reminds me of the scene in Elf where Buddy is leaving the North Pole to head to New York City.  He goes through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops.  My walk is not quite as glamorous as I journey through the levels of the Metra station and through the sea of bums, but the fact that I don’t have to step outside makes it totally worth it!
Once the snow melted away and it was actually warm enough to walk outdoors I took the more direct path to Macy's…this consisted of a 5 block walk.  When I first made the outdoor trip I noticed a window display for Sarah’s Pastries.  Obviously this was very exciting to me.  That excitement diminished when I walked in the door and saw zero signs of baked goods.  I figured it was just a poorly executed window display and carried on with my day.  Please note I didn’t really look that hard.
Every time I went back the cakes were still in the window.  I figured this mini bakery was located somewhere inside, but this Macy's has 7 floors.  I have roughly 60 minutes for lunch, so no real time for a cake hunt.

Well...last week I found Sarah’s Pastries!  I was walking to Macy's with my friend Matt, and as we approached the building I told him how I was so frustrated with the window display because I could not find the cakes.  He took me through an entrance on the other side of the building and there it was...right when you walk in the door - exactly where the window is located (behind a Starbucks).  I was mortified.  It was the absolute definition of a dumb blonde move.  Of course, I was with Matt when this happened because he gives me a hard time for EVERYTHING.  This was just handing him material for the next few weeks.  To my defense - this MINI cake stand is located in the middle of the men's underwear section.  I do not regularly stroll through that section so how would I ever know the cakes were there?!?! And really Macy’s? Cakes in the underwear section??  You have 7 floors! On a total side note...some of the items in that section were shocking - i guess neon is also in for mens bottoms!
As I digress…on to the cupcake.  We decided to split the cupcake of the day which was a chocolate cake with a caramel buttercream frosting and some peanut butter crisp thing on top.
Always appreciate a good container

The Chocolate cake was very good.  I really enjoyed the flavor.  The pb crisp thing was also in the bottom of the cake.  I really loved that addition – it definitely added to the texture and was a nice surprise.  The frosting was super light and airy.  I still don’t know if I liked that or not.  On one hand it was nice that it wasn’t too heavy of a cake considering we were eating it at lunch, but on the other hand I felt the cake flavor was so strong that it needed a thicker frosting to compliment.  The presentation was nice, but if I am factoring in the presentation of the “store” it was very tiny/compact and clearly difficult to find.  I wonder how many others pass up the cakes due to location.  I found the cupcake to be pretty creative, especially with the crisp.  Overall I thought the combo was delicious.  My favorite part was the peanut butter crisp since it added such a contrast of texture to the whole cake.  I would definitely go back to Sarah’s now that I know where it is.

Before heading out we browsed the men's section to see if we could find Matt some fall clothes.  I can't believe some of the items we came across.  My favorite....
Perfect for those chilly days
Reverse it if you want to jazz it up!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Special: Week 3

I love when all of the new shows come back on in the fall.  This is especially nice thanks to tivo.  I can watch when I want and skip all the commercials.  The problem is that I am a sucker for some commercials. I have definitely caught myself tearing up at the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials.  They pick the saddest little puppies to put on there!

However, the commercials that I really love for some crazy reason are the ones where animals are acting like humans and babies are acting like adults.  I find them absolutely hilarious.  

Here are some of my favorites....

The hamsters driving a Kia Soul (btw - such an ugly car)
to see hamsters dancing click here

The old jeep commercial with the singing wolf
Click here for the singing wolf

and my all time favorite...the e*trade baby.  Flipping hysterical.  Could watch these all day.
Click here or here for two of my favorites, but feel free to let yourself get lost on a little youtube adventure as they are all funny!


*photos thanks to google*